Into every life, a little nail polish must fall. As such, that often leads to the inevitable stain, especially since most varnish formulas contain certain chemicals and solvents (like ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, or alcohol) that can strip just about any surface if it's left on there long enough. Plus, while it might be tempting to reach for the nail polish remover in every scenario, that can sometimes make matters worse.
That said, just because you accidentally spilled a little lacquer onto your skirt, desk, sofa, or carpet, that doesn't mean the stuff has to stay there for good. The faster you act, the better off you'll be, and most materials respond well to products you already have lying around the house. See our easy fixes to getting polish stains off everything — and we do mean everything — below.
How to Get Nail Polish Off Wood Surfaces
First rule: don't use nail polish remover on wood. It actually ruins finishes and leaves new, maybe even worse looking, stains. Don't panic, though, because there's actually a really easy way to fix the polish-on-wood problem. Just spritz your polish puddle down with plenty of hairspray (we like L'Oréal Elnett, but really any formula will do), let it sit for about 20 seconds, and then wipe it off. You might need to repeat the process a few times, but it's far, far preferable to having splotchy furniture.
How to Get Nail Polish Off Cloth
Probably one of the most common polish problems, this is also a tricky one. Nail polish remover can interact with some dyes and fabrics (it'll actually melt acetate), so perform a spot test before you use it. If you use remover on your fabric, make sure to launder it directly afterward. And if remover isn't an option, you can always try hairspray. Dry cleaning solvent can also usually remove polish, so if you can't get it out at home, don't be afraid to run it down to your cleaners.
How to Get Nail Polish Out of Hair
If you were in a rush and ended up both ruining your nails and painting up your hair, the fix is pretty simple. If the varnish is still wet, just grab some non-acetone polish remover and run it down the polished ends. If it's dry already, work some conditioner or oil gently through your hair until you can slide the polish bits out.
How to Get Nail Polish Out of Carpet
The first thing to consider: what colour is your carpet? If it's light or white, using a non-acetone polish remover is probably your best bet. If it's dark and you're not sure about whether the dye might interact with it, try pouring on hairspray or rubbing alcohol and then blotting the polish up with a sponge or paper towels. Don't give up if the polish just seems to keep coming — you want to get every last bit out.
How to Get Nail Polish Out of Jeans
Whatever you do, don't rub the stain — this can make it settle into the fabric and make things worse. Instead, grab something with a hard surface, like a plastic knife or expired credit card, to scoop up the excess lacquer. Once you've gotten out as much of the polish as you can, apply a dry cleaning solvent to the area (if your jeans are white, you can also use hydrogen peroxide) and gently blot with a clean cloth until dry.