How To Clean Nail Polish Off Of Pretty Much Anything (Week 4 – Nail School Journal)

There’s Nail Polish On Everything…


*This post was originally published on 8/24/2014. It has been updated and edited on 5/18/2017.


When I reached into my Blanche Macdonald tote a few days ago, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I pulled my hand out right away and it was covered with a thick layer of sticky white nail polish… my new bottle of Zoya Snow White had exploded.


My tote had fallen from a chair earlier that day but I didn’t think much of it since it wasn’t a big drop and everything inside my bag was cushioned with towels. Or so I assumed.

When I explained to my nail instructor what had happened so told me that the shape of the Zoya bottle was known to break easily. She told me to purchase a new bottle for next class or else points would be deducted.



Where can I find Zoya nail polishes?

Back to the mess. My first instinct was to wash my hands, which was a big mistake. The water made my hands feel stickier than before and the bits of polish that did wash off started sticking to the sides of the sink.

Then, I realized that I needed to use nail polish remover (duh!), which helped,  but didn’t really do the job.

Next level: Acetone… Finally my hands are clean!

Although a bit drying, it’s safe to use nail polish remover, alcohol and  acetone to remove nail polish from skin. However, this isn’t the case for other materials such as fabrics, leather and items containing plastic. I noticed  this as I started cleaning the rest of the items in my nail kit. Alcohol had no effect on some items and acetone melted others… it was a frustrating process!

From this experience and some further research, I’ve figured out some tips and tricks on removing nail polish from even the most delicate surfaces. Continue reading to find out how!


How To Clean Nail Polish Off Any Surface (Easily)



You’ve spilled your bottle of polish… don’t panic. Grab some absorbent paper towels or a rag to soak up the excess polish. Use a dabbing motion (no wiping) to avoid spreading the polish. Also, don’t leave your paper towel or rag to soak for more than 10 seconds. It will dry and harden with the polish!

Now take a deep breath. Everything’s going to be okay!

See any bits that have already dried? Chip them off with your fingernails or scrape them off with a spatula. 

Only a few more steps until your nail polish mess will be completely (and easily – I promise) removed.


Before proceeding with the rest of your cleanup, figure out what kind of surface you’re working with and read these helpful tips!


  • Always test for colorfastness before using alcohol or acetone. To do this simply soak a cotton swab with alcohol or acetone and lightly dab at an inconspicuous spot. If colour transfers, the item isn’t colourfast and applying more alcohol or acetone could cause damage or fade the colour.
  • For carpets and fabrics, use a dabbing motion instead or rubbing. Also constantly rotate your towel or cotton swab to a clean area to avoid transferring polish back onto your item.
  • For fabrics, place a thick layer of paper towels behind to absorb excess liquids.
  • Use clear and unscented alcohol and acetone. Added colours and fragrances could transfer to your item during the removal process.


How To Clean Nail Polish Off Clothes, Fabrics and Leather



Natural Fabrics (Cotton, Linen, Silk, Wool, etc.)

Apply acetone and dab with a white towel. Wash your fabric as you usually would.


Synthetic Fabrics (Nylon, Polyester, Rayon, Spandex, etc.)

Take your item to the dry cleaners. They will have the proper solvents and expertise to remove the polish without damaging your fabric. 

Do not use acetone. It may dissolve some synthetic fabrics!



For small stains, use soap and water to gently remove it. For larger or tougher polish stains try alcohol.

Alcohol can be harsh on leathers and cause damage. To control the amount you use, gently dab the area with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol.

Only use acetone if alcohol doesn’t seem to be doing the job. Acetone is even harsher on leather than alcohol so use it cautiously. 

After using alcohol or acetone, clean the area with soap and water. Pat dry and allow the leather to completely air dry before applying a leather conditioner to repair any damages.



How To Remove Nail Polish From Wood, Tile and Other Surfaces



Use a magic eraser (do a spot test first). 

Another option is to use WD-40 and wipe with a rag. Did you know that WD-40 can also remove rings that are stuck to your finger? Check it out here!

Avoid using acetone. It can remove paint and damage finishes.


Laminate, Linoleum,Vinyl and Wood

Apply alcohol and wipe until clean with a towel or rag. Use a spray bottle to control the amount of alcohol you use. You may need to apply and wipe a few times before the polish is completely removed.

Want to try something fun? Use the Sugar Method! 



Sprinkle enough sugar to cover and soak up the spilled polish. As soon as the mixture dries, it can be swept up or vacuumed. 


Cement, Ceramic, Porcelain and Tiles

Apply acetone and wipe until clean. After all the polish has been removed, wash the area with water and allow to air dry.


Grout (area between tiles)

To remove nail polish from grout, try scrubbing the area with alcohol and a soft bristled brush (or toothbrush). If that doesn’t do the job, try using acetone. You may need  to refinish your grout after using this method


How To Get Nail Polish Off Carpet

Use acetone on a white towel to remove the polish in a dabbing motion. Once the polish has been removed, clean off the acetone with water. Avoid soaking the carpet with acetone, wet your towel instead.



How To Get Nail Polish Out Of Your Hair


Got nail polish in your hair? Remove it in seconds with the steps below!


We’ve all done it before. Our hair accidentally brushes up against our wet polish or we run our nails through our hair forgetting that the polish hasn’t dried it. Luckily removal is quite easy. Simply apply a conditioner or olive oil to that area and the polish will slide right out!


How To Remove Nail Polish From Your Cell Phone or Laptop


Cell Phone

Remove excess wet polish by pushing it towards the middle of  the screen to avoid any of it from slipping into the cracks and damaging the hardware inside. Use cotton swabs soaked in alcohol to remove polish from glass surfaces. To remove polish from the out shell of your cell phone, use a slightly dampened magic eraser. Dried polish can be flaked or scraped off.

Carefully remove any residues with cotton swabs moistened with water.



Remove excess wet polish by soaking it up with paper towels. Cotton swabs are especially helpful for spilled polish between the keys. 

For the remaining nail polish, use cotton swabs soaked in nail polish remover. Once all of the polish has been removed, spray a paper towel with all-purpose cleaner and wipe your laptop. To dry everything quickly, use a blow dryer on the lowest setting at least a foot away from your laptop.

When  the correct materials and methods are used, cleaning up spilled nail polish is a breeze. Keep this guide handy!


In class this week, we worked on combining our manicure and pedicure services into one. I was fine with doing the services separately, but combining them seemed to take more time and lots of energy. I was pooped! That’s something I will have to work on.

By the way, here’s how my oval shaped nails came out! I’m liking it… getting used to the shape. What do you guys think?


French Manicure done by my lovely classmate :)

French Manicure done by my lovely classmate 🙂


❤ Catherine

Sunday Beauty Boutique is a private, luxury salon located in Vancouver, specializing in:

YUMI Lashes Lash Lifts | Eyelash Extensions | Gel Nails (Gel Polish, Extensions & Art)

Book your appointment online now!

About the Author Catherine

As a kid, I happened to discover a magazine entirely focused on intricate nail designs. This sparked an interest that has grown over the years. Though I completed a bachelor’s degree in Food, Nutrition, and Health, office work wasn’t for me. So, I focused on my dream instead. I earned my diploma from Blanche Macdonald’s Nail Technology Program in 2015. I worked in a salon and received certified training with YUMI Lashes in January 2017. Then, in March of 2017, I opened Sunday Beauty Boutique. These days, I spend my time focusing on my customers, customizing my services for each of them. I’ve created a relaxing space where they get the attention they deserve. My biggest goal is to help them to feel as good as they look. Seeing this transformation is the best part of my day!

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