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How To Get Nail Polish Off Carpet

by | May 28, 2023 | Carpet Cleaning

It’s a big fear when we’re painting our nails – one wrong move and you spill nail polish onto the carpet. You try to catch the bottle but it’s too late, there’s a nail polish stain on the fibres. And now your pristine carpet is ruined forever.

Or not.

Worry not – you can remove nail polish stains from a carpet. Use a nail polish remover such as hair spray and rubbing alcohol, acetone-free polish remover, white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. Blot the stain first (don’t rub!), then take a soft cloth or paper towels dipped in your chosen cleaning solution. Clean the carpet afterwards.

Accidents happen, so there’s no need to panic. If you experience a nail polish spill, here’s how to get nail polish off carpet.


ways to get nail polish out of carpet


Does the Type of Carpet Matter?

Yes, it does. Your stain removal method will depend on the type of carpet fibres and the colour of your carpet.

Avoid acidic cleaners if you have a dark carpet, since this could cause discolouration. Meanwhile, if your carpet is dry-clean only, you may need to leave the cleaning to the professionals.

(BTW – besides your carpet, are you cleaning the rest of your living room? If not, an expert cleaning team can help you there!)



Removing Wet Nail Polish from Carpet

red nail polish spill on light colored carpet

For fresh nail polish spills, it’s essential to act quickly. Removing dried nail polish is harder, although not impossible (we’ll teach you that too).

You can redo your nails later – right now it’s important to get that fingernail polish out of carpet, ASAP.


1. Remove excess nail polish

Start by scooping or blotting excess polish from the carpet fibres. You can use a spoon or butter knife and wipe it off on a paper towel in between scoops. Remove as much nail polish as possible.


2. Blot the stained area

Take an old towel or paper towel and gently blot the nail polish stain. Don’t rub – that’ll drive the stain in deeper.

Instead, fold the towel over and dab using one spot at a time, changing to a new area of cloth after each dab.

Check to see how much nail polish the towel absorbs each time. When there’s barely any colour staining, the stain is almost clean.


3. Patch test your carpet cleaner

You have a range of choices to remove nail polish, depending on the colour of your carpet. But two things to avoid are acetone and bleach, since these can damage and discolour the carpet fibres.

To remove nail polish from carpet, try one of the following:

  • Hair spray
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Acetone-free nail polish remover
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Plain vinegar

Again, if your rug has a dark colour, do not use acidic cleaners. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is excellent for light carpets. Always patch test first before starting to clean.

Some people may recommend window cleaner, but we feel it’s better to avoid this since it could be harsh on your carpet and your nose.


non acetone polish remover


4. Get polish out of the carpet

Dip a clean cloth in your chosen carpet cleaner, or spray it on carefully.

Again, gently dab the stain, changing sections each time. Reapply your carpet cleaning solution as necessary.

You can combine hair spray and rubbing alcohol as well for a more effective solution. Just spritz hair spray on, then follow with a dab of alcohol.

Keep going until the stain has lifted out of the carpet completely.


5. Clean the area

Lastly, use a clean section of cloth or more paper towels to absorb any remaining residue from the cleaning liquid. You can opt to clean and refresh your carpet afterwards.


Removing Dry Nail Polish from Carpet

Nail polish stain cleaning

Removing a dried nail polish stain is more difficult, but not impossible. It’ll just need a bit more effort and elbow grease.


1. Scrape and vacuum dried polish

Use a dull knife or rubber blade to scrape at the fingernail polish. Work in the same direction as the carpet fibres so you don’t tug any out or otherwise damage them.

You can use scissors to snip off small bits of fibre for tough stains, but do note that this could create a noticeable patch on your carpet.

Take a vacuum with an upholstery attachment and vacuum any loose flecks and pieces of polish out of the carpet.


2. Do a spot removal test

Again, test your chosen polish remover on a small area to ensure it won’t damage the carpet fibres.


3. Blot the stain

Dab a cloth repeatedly on the area to lightly apply your nail polish remover. Change sections of cloth and apply more carpet cleaner as you go. Repeat until the stain has lifted.

If a stain is particularly stubborn, you can try using a small scrub brush to gently scrub the area.


Cleaning a Carpet After Removing Nail Polish

Books, smartphone and laptop lying on white carpet in modern luxury living room interior

Once you’ve removed the nail polish stain, you can clean the carpet to restore its look. This doesn’t mean cleaning the whole thing, though – just the affected area!

Fill a bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish soap or liquid carpet cleaner. Mix well.

Take a clean sponge and dip it in the water, then wring out the excess liquid so it’s only damp.

Wipe the previously-stained carpet area to remove any leftover residue. This will help remove any remaining polish and the scent of your cleaner.

Once that’s done, empty the bowl and refill it with clean water. Use a cloth or a different sponge to rinse the area.

Lastly, dry the carpet to avoid mould or mildew developing due to excess moisture. Pat the area dry with a clean towel.

You can turn on an electric fan to speed up the process. Never use a hairdryer since the heat could damage the fibres and backing.

And that’s it for how to get nail polish off carpet. Next time you’re having a spa day at home and accidentally spill your polish, don’t panic.

But maybe spread some newspapers or cardboard to avoid stains in the first place – just a tip!

About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.