It happens, fingernail polish spills by accident and then you have an ugly stain on your pristine carpet. Many people don’t think it is possible to get fingernail polish out of the carpet. Well, it is and there are many tricks to lift the polish out of the rug- even if you don’t have scotch guard protection.

There are two main rules when it comes to fingernail polish on either carpet or hardwood floors. The first rule is not to panic. The second rule is not to rub. Rubbing will always make any spill, especially fingernail polish, worse.

Start out by putting either an old towel or paper towels on the spill. You want to press and blot, not rub, to soak up any excess fingernail polish that hasn’t been absorbed. Now for the hard part, let the fingernail polish air-dry. Yes, leave it alone. Walk away- as hard as this is- and let the stain dry. Never rub or try to scrub the stain. And don’t add chemicals or products to wet fingernail polish. You could cause a chemical reaction.

Once the fingernail polish has dried onto the carpet, tile, or hardwood floor surface, consider what method appeals to you- and there are several:

The first method is to cut the stain loose. For some people with higher carpets, this is both a blessing and a curse. Depending on how deep the stain is, cutting the carpet may cause an uneven shift in its height. If the stain isn’t too deep then cutting a small area away from the carpet isn’t going to be too noticeable and it presents an easy and cost-effective solution.

Now- before we get to the chemical methods, please consider the type of flooring you have. Different carpets have different types of treatments. You don’t want to put a chemical on a small fingernail polish stain only to cause a big reaction and more severe stain. So, to avoid this from happening, patch test any of the options below on a small and hidden part of your non-stained carpet first.


A concoction of hairspray and rubbing alcohol works wonders. It doesn’t smell that great, but it is a small price to pay for the miracle it will work on your carpet. What you want to do is first wet the stain with cold water. Do not use warm water as it can further the fusion of the nail polish to the floor fibers.

Next, spray hairspray on the stain. It’s hard to find aerosol cans of hairspray these days but , if you can, this type of spray works the best. You also want to dab a cotton ball full of rubbing alcohol or eight proof (or higher) vodka on the stain. Grab yourself an old toothbrush or tiny scrubbing brush and now (and only now) do you rub and scrub the stain.

If you need to, add more water to the stain as you’re rubbing it until the stain is lifted. Keep pets and small children away from this area as it air dries. Pets tend to walk on and smell new and wet areas of carpet. You don’t want them licking the area or their paws after they walk on the area.

Another surefire way to remove nail polish from the carpet is with acetone nail polish remover. It makes sense, right?! The downside to this is that acetone nail polish remove tends to not do well on coloured carpet. It bleaches it out or causes a bigger mess, which is why the patch test noted above is so important. If you have white or really light coloured carpet, this option is probably OK for you to consider. Any dark or multi-coloured carpets should not receive this method of treatment as a discoloured , yet nail polish free, patch will be your end result.
If you do go with this method, follow the following instructions. First, dab the dried stain with a plain and old towel. Next, pour a small amount of acetone nail polish remover directly on the stain and continue to dab until the stain fades. Rinse the carpet thoroughly with water and soap once the stain is lifted. Keep children and pets away from the area until it is completely air-dried.

Window cleaner is a great option if you don’t have lighter coloured carpet or if you decide to use the clear window cleaner products. Window cleaner has a chemical compound mix that is equivalent to that of acetone nail polish remover, hairspray, and alcohol. This said, never mix those three components together. It will chemically cause a reaction and you can end up in the hospital. Instead, be safe and use the window cleaner (already mixed) powerhouse on your carpet instead.

Again, make sure you are using the blue-coloured window cleaner on dark coloured carpet only, otherwise the blue cleaner will stain your light coloured carpet and you will end up with a bigger problem. Spray the window cleaner directly on the stain. Dab it with an old town or cloth until the stain starts to break up. Repeat this action several times. Once the stain is gone, let the carpet air-dry and then vacuum up the dried residue from the window cleaner. Don’t let pets or children near this area until after you have vacuumed it.


Some people swear that certain canned carpet cleaning products work wonders. We have not found this to be the case. In fact, they tend to really let the nail polish stain set within the carpet. We’re sure there are a few good products out there, but we are really hesitant to recommend this as an option. If you don’t want to attempt to use any of our recommendations, which all really do work, then you can always seek the assistance of a professional carpet cleaning company. Or, you can call the carpet stain removal product manufacturer and ask them specifically about the type of carpet you have.

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