how to remove nail polish from clothes
Laundry

How to remove nail varnish from clothes

Accidentally spilt nail polish on an item of clothing? Discover how to remove it in a flash with this step-by-step guide!

Nail polish is the perfect way to complete any outfit and there truly is a style and finish to suit any occasion. From glossy orange and matte pink to sparkling silver and deep red, the range of colours is endless – but while they look good on your nails, you don’t want to see it on your clothing! If you’ve spilled nail polish on your clothes, you’ll need to know how to remove nail polish from clothes in order to keep the finished look both sleek and stylish.

Although there are plenty of quick-dry polishes now available, applying nail polish will always be a fiddly business. The most important thing to remember when you experience a little spillage is to act fast – the quicker you attack a stain, the more likely you will be able to remove it. Here we show you how removing nail varnish from clothes can be easy and effective:

How to Remove Nail Varnish from Clothes

  1. First, if the stain is fresh, gently remove as much excess nail polish as possible. Do not rub, but gently dab the nail polish stain with a clean cloth.
  2. Examine the label on your stained clothing item. If the fabric contains acetate, triacetate or modacrylic, do not attempt to remove the polish with nail polish remover as it contains an ingredient called acetone. Acetone is a clear and highly flammable liquid solvent that will only melt the fabric you’re trying to clean. If a fabric is listed as dry-clean only, take your item to a professional dry cleaner immediately. Only if the fabric is washable and does not contain acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic, can you attempt to take action at home.
  3. Prepare a space to clean your item of clothing – place the garment on top of an old, clean towel or rag.
  4. Test the nail polish remover (use one with acetone, if possible) on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first, like the inside of a cuff or edge of the hem.
  5. If it is safe to do so, gently apply a small amount of nail polish remover to the stain with a clean sponge or cloth.
  6. Carefully dab at the polish in a blotting motion to prevent the nail polish from embedding deeper into the fabric fibres. Work from the outside in, continually moving to a clean area of the towel underneath as it soaks up the stain.
  7. Repeat until the stain is no longer transferring to the white towel or kitchen paper.
  8. Rinse the fabric in cold water.
  9. Launder as usual according to the instructions on the washing label using OMO ULTRA liquid detergent.
remove nail polish from clothes

Advice for Removing Nail Polish Stains

  • Products like hairspray can often perform as a good alternative to nail polish remover. Always remember to try on a test patch first and, if in doubt, take the item to a professional dry cleaner first.
  • Not all nail polish removers contain acetone, and you can buy non-acetone nail polish remover. However, the main active ingredient in non-acetone removers is ethyl acetate, which is also a highly flammable solvent, so always be careful when using it.
  • Surgical Spirits is a surprisingly useful household ingredient and can be used to help remove nail polish from clothes. Test it on a small area of the garment first, and then gently apply with cotton buds and blot away the polish as before, using a clean white towel or kitchen paper to help soak up the stain.

Top Tip


If you’ve spilled nail polish on your clothing, speed is of the essence! Quickly remove any excess nail polish with a clean cloth without rubbing it into the garment, and then check the care label – nail polish remover with acetone can be used to remove stains from clothes, but you need to be careful when using it and always test it in a small area first.