Durable, chip-resistant and quick drying; they’re the attributes that make for a quality nail polish. Flip the script though and it’s a recipe for a brutal stain. And not just any stain – a vibrantly coloured one. When it comes to removing nail polish spills from clothes or upholstery, the (literal) solution is a familiar one: acetone-based nail polish remover. The good news? If you’re painting your nails, it probably means you have it within reach.
What you'll need to remove nail polish stains
- An old towel or paper towel
- Cotton swabs
- Acetone-based nail polish remover
- Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips
- Optional: rubbing alcohol & cotton balls
How to remove nail polish stains from clothing in 8 easy steps
Step 1: Check the fabric type by inspecting the garment care label.
Dry clean only items should be taken to a professional, but this also includes any clothing that is not made from a colourfast textile. (In other words, materials that do not hold dye.) This includes acetate, triacetate, modacrylic and naturally-derived fibres such as wool and silk. If you’ve spilled nail polish on a machine-washable garment, proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Perform a test for colourfastness using acetone-based nail polish remover. Find a small test area inside the clothing item and apply a cotton swab wetted with polish remover. Then, blot with a paper towel, napkin or tissue. If any pigment transfers to the tissue, take the item to a dry cleaner. If no dye transfers, proceed.
Step 3: (Optional) Scrape up excess polish. If you’ve spilled a dollop of nail polish, use a dull knife or a card in your wallet to lift the excess away. Do not rub; this will only set the stain deeper.
Step 4: If needed, fold a square of paper towel or an old rag and place it behind the nail polish stain (so the nail polish remover does not transfer diluted polish to the other side of the garment). Wet a cotton swab with nail polish remover. Starting at the outer edge of the spill, begin dabbing the spill, moving inward. Change the swab for a new one as it becomes saturated in paint. Continue until the blemish has been effectively reduced. For the best results, it is better to work slowly and be meticulous than hasty.
Step 5: Rinse the acetone-treated stain with water. If some pigment still remains, you could dab the stain with a cotton ball wetted with rubbing alcohol and then rinse with water.
Step 6: Wash the item on its typical wash setting using a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip. If you’re concerned about any lingering acetone interacting with other clothes in the hamper, try hand washing the item or running through on the small load.
Step 7: Hang-dry. Do not resume machine-drying until you are finished stain treating. The dryer will only serve to permanently “set” the stain.
Step 8: Inspect the stain site. Return to step four if needed. Alternatively, you can perform a stain treatment before washing once again in a wash cycle.
How to create a concentrated stain remover with Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips: First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the residues from the fabric. Allow it to sit for an hour and then rinse.
What if the stain is still visible?
If pigment from the nail polish still stubbornly persists, consider bringing it to your local dry cleaner.