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How to Remove Dried Nail Polish Stains From Clothes

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Nothing is as frustrating as nail polish spilling on your favorite dress. Maybe you’re in a hurry, or your hands are just unsteady. Whatever the cause, what follows next is the setting off of panic alarms. And you’ve good reason to be worried.

Nail polish stains are some of the most stubborn because their chemical ingredients are easily set into the cloth fiber. But the good news is, with the tips we’re about to share, you can remove the stains instantly and restore the garment to its original state.

The surest way to remove dried nail varnish stain is to pretreat it with acetone or rubbing alcohol. To use either of the two cleaning agents, dab the stain with a white piece of cloth or cotton swab continuously till the stain is gone.

Removing Dried Nail Polish Using Acetone

Before embarking on the process, you need to know a few things. First, the cleaning chemical, acetone, is a toxic substance. For that reason, make sufficient protection measures. 

Work in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask and gloves.

Secondly, read the care instruction label of your garment well. The reason is that this garment is not compatible with all fabric types. For instance, you should avoid using acetate or triacetate-based fabric because it reacts with them. 

If unsure of the compatibility, test the garment on an inconspicuous part by applying a small drop on it and observing how it reacts. That could be an inside part of a seam.

Next, scrape off the dried fingernail polish from the stain. You can use a butter knife, an edge of a spoon, or an old credit card. The point is to use a tool that will cleanly remove the polish without damaging the clothing fiber

Be careful while removing the nail polish material to avoid contaminating the rest of the garment. You can gently put them into a paper towel or a paper plate for easy disposal.

Blotting the Stain

With the garment on a flat surface, place some cardboard or paper towels to separate the stained part from the rest of the garment to avoid contamination. Then, repeatedly blot the stain with a piece of cloth or cotton swabs dipped in acetone. 

After doing this several times, the polish gets transferred from the garment to the cleaning material saturating the cleaning material. Therefore it is advisable to have several pieces for purposes of replacing the used ones.

Additionally, squeeze out the excess fluid from the cleaning cloth piece to avoid oversaturating the spot and spreading the stain. Doing this several times is enough to lift the stain from the garment completely.

Other Methods of Removing Dried Nail Polish

Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a great alternative to acetone in removing dried nail varnish stains. Unlike acetone, hydrogen peroxide does not react with acetate or other delicate clothes.

One thing to note, though, is hydrogen peroxide can bleach some clothes. Using hydrogen peroxide is only recommended for white clothes or colorfast ones. As usual, if unsure, the rule of thumb is to test on an inside part of the garment.

If it is compatible with your garment, proceed by applying a few drops of the cleaning agent to the stain, spread it uniformly, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Thereafter, the stain spot will have softened and will be ready for blotting out. Using a clean piece of cloth, dab on the stain repeatedly until the stain is removed.

Finally, toss the garment into the washer and wash normally to remove the residues of hydrogen peroxide and stains off the clothes.

Using commercial stain removers

Commercial stain removers are also a great option when it comes to removing dried nail polish stains. The thing with store-bought stain removers is they are professionally formulated with specific active ingredients.

Furthermore, a lot of research, blending, and regulation goes into this process before the final product hits the market. So, its quality and efficacy are assured.

In this regard, there are several terrific nail polish stain removers. One popular example is Amodex stain remover. Amodex is best used as a pretreatment agent before washing with your detergent. 

Having removed the dry nail polish as with other cleaning methods, you can apply a few drops to the stain and spread it uniformly. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes before washing normally.

Rubbing Alcohol

Keep in mind, for the dry clean type of garments, the stains are better handled by the professional at drycleaning outlets. But if you decide to go at it on your own, then rubbing alcohol is one of the best solutions for removing nail polish stains on any of those dry-clean-only items; hats, suedes, suits, etc.

Before you start, remove the dry nail polish material to make the cleaning easier. Then soaking a section of microfiber, or a white piece of cloth, dab the stain. Be sure to replace the microfiber with a fresh one, as it gets saturated with the transferred polish color.

If satisfied with the results, allow the alcohol to evaporate fully before using or storing the item.

Using Bug Spray

Apparently, other than eliminating pesky bugs in your house, bug spray also removes dried nail polish stains. Before proceeding, prepare the stain by removing the dry materials to make it easier to clean.

Next, spray some bug spray on the stain and on an old toothbrush. Then gently scrub on the stain until the stain is lifted. You can then rinse the stain spot to remove the cleaning solution before running a normal cycle with your favorite detergent.

Remove Dried Nail Polish With Hairspray

Few people know hairspray can do more than condition hair. But hairspray is great in removing nail polish stains as well, especially when used in combination with other stain removers. For example, using it in combination with dishwashing detergent makes it even more effective in clearing stains.

First, apply hair spray on the spot, followed by a few drops of dish soap. Then using a toothbrush, scrub the spot in a circular motion, to work up a lather. Then with a microfiber, wipe off the lather, and inspect whether the stain has been removed. 

If not, repeat the process until it is removed. Then rinse the spot before laundering normally with a standard laundry detergent. 

Removing Nail Polish Stains With Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

For the exceptionally tough nail varnish stains, you might want combinations of stain removers. This is especially true for some of the dried nail varnish stains that might have set into the fabric. Using lemon juice in combination with baking soda can stamp out polish stains quite fast. 

Both separately being authoritative stain removers, you can only expect the combined effect to be even much higher. Plus, baking soda has the ability to kill any lingering nail polish stain odor residues.

To use this recipe, add ½ cup of baking soda to 1 cup of lemon juice and stir to make a paste. You can adjust the thickness of the paste to fit the type of fabric you are cleaning, as different fabrics soak in the paste differently. 

Next, apply this paste to the stain and work it up with an old toothbrush before allowing it to settle for 30 minutes, then rinse. Afterward, load in the washing machine and launder with the usual washing detergent dosage, wash, rinse and dry.

How to Remove Nail Polish From Upholstery

Removing dried nail polish stains on upholstery can be tricky, but it is doable. The problem is probably it is already set into the fabric, making it more tasking.

Nonetheless, the starting point is to do the usual test for compatibility with the cleaning agents by spot testing or other methods such as reading care label instructions. Then use the appropriate one depending on the upholstery fabric. Below are some of the cleaning methods for select upholstery types.

Suede Upholstery

Removing nail polish on a suede upholstery requires tact as the use of water is not recommended to avoid spoiling it. For that reason, we use non-water cleaners like rubbing alcohol. Before starting, be sure to remove the dried nail polish material to make your work easier.

Once done, soak a white piece of cloth or paper towel with the rubbing alcohol and use it to dab the spot. Continue blotting, and the cloth piece will soak in the nail polish stain from the upholstery. Eventually, enough of it will be soaked by the cloth. 

At this point, you want to use another clean corner of the cloth or replace it altogether. Once you’re satisfied with the results, air-dry the spot, and thereafter brush it with a suede brush to restore its sheen.

Leather Upholstery

Removing nail polish stains from leather upholstery might not be as hard as the suede one. The reason is in most instances, nail polish may not penetrate deeper into the hard leather surface. 

But for dried nail polish, this might be different as it might have seeped deeper over time. However, using rubbing alcohol and some dish soap can still clean it off. To start off, place a few drops of rubbing alcohol on the leather surface, and a few more on the cleaning cloth and work on the leather surface.

Continue blotting the stain until it is completely removed. Meanwhile, do not forget to replace the saturated blotting cotton balls or the cloth pieces if need be. If you’re satisfied with the level of cleaning, you can finish it off with dishwashing soap. 

Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to a small basin with ½ liter of water, and stir to make a solution. Finally, use this solution to wipe the spot in a circular motion, to remove any residue nail polish stains. Thereafter air thorough to avoid mold development.

Removing Dried Nail Polish Stain From Carpet

As we found out above, not all fabric materials are compatible with every cleaning agent. Therefore, the rule of first testing before cleaning applies to carpet fabric as well.

First, use a suitable item to remove the excess nail polish material. Depending on the carpet fabric, you can opt for any of the several cleaning agents to remove nail polish stains. You can use vinegar, acetone, or rubbing alcohol.

If you opt for rubbing alcohol, you can pour a few drops on the stain spot and then soak a cotton ball or clean white cloth to blot out the stain. Repeat the blotting, and have the nail polish get soaked up by the cloth until it is completely removed.

Finally, use a dish detergent water solution to remove any residue. A few drops of dishwashing detergent in ½ liter of cool water should be enough. Thereafter, vacuum and air sufficiently to avoid molding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Acetone Bleach?

Acetone has a bleaching effect, though this doesn’t affect every type of fabric. The use of acetone is discouraged, especially on delicate fabrics such as wool, acrylic, acetate, and triacetate. Therefore, the best way to know if it is safe for your fabric is to test or read the garment care label.

Does Dried Nail Polish Come Out of Clothes?

Dried nail polish stains can be removed from clothes. Although as with most stains, the earliest you remove it, the easier it becomes. Overstayed stains are set on the fabrics and are generally harder to clean. 

Various solutions that can be used include hydrogen peroxide, acetone, hair spray, and rubbing alcohol. However, avoid mixing multiple cleaning agents as this might result in vigorous fume-producing reactions or render them inert.

Does Clear Nail Polish Stain Clothes?

Just like the other type of nail polish, clear nail polish can stain clothes and even become permanent. However, with some interventions, you can remove even the toughest clear nail polish stain. To remove the stain on any surface, you can use rubbing alcohol or acetone on a cotton wool ball or piece of cloth. Then blot until it’s completely removed.

Next, you can check out my complete guide to removing all makeup stains.

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