How to Get Nail Polish out of Carpet and Other Fabrics

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Nail polish looks great on our nails, but the same can’t be said for nail polish on clothes or carpet. You’ve probably been there, painting your nails in a hurry because Friday night just snuck up on you, and you want to look your best for girls’ night out. One wrong move and that bottle of red nail polish lands right on the carpet. Suddenly you aren’t so worried about what you’re going to wear tonight, instead you’re fully consumed with answering one question: how to remove nail polish from carpet? We hate to break it to you, but it’s not as easy as you’d hope. Trust us, we wish it was.

We went to our chemists here at BISSELL to get some answers. The first thing they told us was nail polish is one of the toughest things to get out of carpet. It’s because of the ingredients in nail polish. Nail polish contains pigments, also known as dyes, which are intended to change the color of whatever you put on them, carpet included. The same goes fo whatever other fabric the stuff finds itself on. Even though nail polish is such a tough stain, all hope isn’t lost. Our chemists recommend taking the following steps to try and remove nail polish from carpet.

When the spill happens, it’s important to act fast because nail polish sets up quickly on whatever it gets dumped on. Which we find ironic because it never seems to dry that fast on our nails, but that’s another rant for another day! To remove nail polish from carpet you’ll need the following things:

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Non-acetone nail polish remover*
  • Warm water for mixture
  • Warm water for rinsing
  • Clean, dry white towels or paper towels
  • Flat object (like a cutting board)
  • Heavy object (like a gallon of water)

*It’s very important you get non-acetone, because the acetone could cause damage to the backing of your carpet, actually melting the backing. So, you’d end up with what looks like a divot in your carpet, drawing even more attention to the stained area.

Stain Removal Steps

  • Blot the non-acetone nail polish remover on your paper towel. Don’t dump the nail polish remover directly on the stain.
  • Pick up any nail polish that is still wet or loosened by the nail polish remover. Push towards the center of the stain instead of outwards. This keeps the stain from spreading any more.
  • Repeat the steps above a few times, removing a layer of nail polish with each round. Don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking a long time, being thorough is important because it helps avoid damaging your carpet.
  • Mix ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing soap with 1 cup of warm water.
  • Pull the solution on a white cloth or paper towel. (Make sure it’s white, otherwise you run the risk of transferring dye from the towel to your carpet, making the stain even more noticeable.)
  • Blot the towel or cloth on the stain. Don't rub or scrub.
  • Grab a clean towel and put a little bit of warm water on the stain to remove the soapy mixture.
  • Repeat the steps if the stain remains.
  • Once the stain is rinsed, grab a thick stack of clean towels and place it on the stain. Put your cutting board on top of the stack and then the water jug (or whatever other heavy object you selected) on top of the cutting board.

Our chemists say this home remedy is great in a pinch, but in an ideal situation you’d be better armed with our specially made formulas. A stain like nail polish calls for BISSELL Tough Stain & Pretreat for Carpet & Upholstery. Spray this directly on the stain to penetrate deep into your carpet’s fibers before using a carpet cleaner or portable carpet cleaner to remove the stain. After you pretreat, use our Professional Spot & Stain + Oxy Formula with a portable deep cleaner like Pet Stain Eraser Deluxe or SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner to scrub and remove the stain.

What if you spill nail polish somewhere besides carpet? If you’re looking for steps on how to get nail polish out of clothes or how to get nail polish out of fabric, we can help with that too. Make sure to check the tag on whatever you’re cleaning to ensure it’s not dry clean only. Place a towel under the stain so it doesn’t bleed through and blot up what nail polish you can. Soak the fabric in detergent and warm water for about an hour. Rinse around the stain with warm water. Then put some laundry pretreat on it and toss it in the wash. Woolite® InstaClean is our favorite pretreat. It’s removes tons of other stains like mud, vomit and feces, not just nail polish.

While it is an admittingly tough stain, we hope this post helps you clean up that nail polish spill, and maybe even save your carpet or clothing from being permanently dyed. If you’ve learned anything from your nail polish spill, let it be this: it’s best to paint your nails in the bathroom where there’s hard floor. Or, better yet, treat yourself to a professional manicure – you deserve it.