How to Get Nail Polish Out of Carpet Fast and Easy

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get nail polish out of carpet

Applying nail polish at home can be an enjoyable, but messy experience. Unless you have a steady hand, you are bound to miss and possibly get nail polish on the surrounding surface. This surface may be a carpet and removing nail polish from a carpet can be tough.

If you happened to spill an entire container of nail polish on your carpet and it already dried, the task is that much more difficult.

You don’t have to worry, even though it might be a tough job to get nail polish out of carpet – it’s not impossible. There are a few straightforward methods for doing this using everyday household products.

Key Takeaways:

To remove fresh nail polish from a carpet, get a spoon or a knife and scoop up as much as possible. Then, use a paper towel and dab the area to soak up as much wet nail polish as possible. For whatever is left, use hairspray and dab it out until there is nothing left. 

You could also cover the stain with water and hairspray. Then, use a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and scrub the carpet until the stain has gone. 

For dried polish, try scraping it up with a straight-edge razor or knife. Then, vacuum the area. Spray any remaining nail polish with hairspray and a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. Leave the mixture, then scrub it out gently. Pat it dry with a paper towel, and repeat the process if necessary. To remove dried nail polish, you can also use window cleaner and the abrasive side of a wet sponge in some warm water. 

Only use acetone-free nail polish remover where possible – and never rub these stains in. Your hairspray should also be non-tea tree oil to avoid staining.

Here are a few strategies to help ease your nerves:

clean fresh nail polish spills

1. Fresh Spills

Method A – If you just spilled the nail polish and you’re panicking to clean it up before it dries, here’s a quick and easy method you can use. Take a dull knife and scrape up whatever nail polish spilled. (for large spills use a spoon)

Once you got the majority of the substantial spill up off the carpet, take a dry paper towel and soak up as much of remainder as possible. Gently pat the stained area and continue this with new areas of the cloth until you have soaked up as much as possible.

Next, spray the affected area with a bit of hairspray and pat the wet area with a clean rag or towel. Repeat this process until the nail polish stain is completely gone.

Method B – Another way to remove fresh nail polish from the carpet is to cover the stained area with water and spray a liberal amount of hairspray onto the area. Use about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol on the stain and then scrub the carpet with a gentle brush for about one minute.

As you are scrubbing, keep adding more water as needed until the stain starts to release from the carpet. Repeat this until the carpet is entirely free of the stain.

clean dried nail polish spills2. Dried Nail Polish Spills

This spill is the tougher of the two. If you spilled some and forgot about it, or maybe your kid or pet knocked the bottle over, and now you are stuck with a dried-up mess on your carpet. These methods will help release that tough spill from the carpet.

Method A – Start by scraping up the dried nail polish from the carpet and get as much of it as possible. A straight edge razor is also useful when working on a denser carpet like an area rug.

Clean up all the excess nail polish chunks with a vacuum. This strategy will prevent you from re-creating a mess later on.

Once you have removed the excess nail polish, spray the area down with hairspray and a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. (If you have a light carpet you can also use baking soda or salt to help remove the stain, the abrasive texture will make scrubbing faster)

Let the mixture sit for a minute and scrub the area using a small gentle brush, like a toothbrush. After a few minutes of brushing, pat the area gently with a cloth or paper towel and see how much nail polish you removed out of the carpet. Continue this process until the entire stain is gone.

Method B – Using the same strategy as before, remove as much of the excess nail polish as possible using a dull knife or spoon if the spill is substantial. Contain the nail polish chunks to one area and vacuum them up when you are finished.

Take a standard window cleaner like Windex and wet a sponge with the cleaner. Scrub the stain with the abrasive side of the wet sponge and periodically rinse with warm water. Gently pat the area dry and then follow the process again until the stain is gone.

Here is a step by step video on how to remove dried nail polish from a carpet.

Using a Portable Carpet Cleaner

The quickest way to clean nail polish from carpet is by using a portable carpet cleaning machine. The use of carpet cleaning solution, and sometimes heat, will help you get rid of most tough stains.

See our list here of the best portable carpet cleaners

Things to Remember About Nail Polish Spills

This kind of stain is unique, and there are a few things to remember when trying to clean it up.
  • Be sure to use only acetone free nail polish remover
  • Make sure the hairspray you use does not contain tea tree oil because it can stain colored carpets.
  • Never use any products that contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide on dark carpets because it bleaches the colors.
  • Do not rub wet nail polish stains because it only spreads the stain further along the carpet.

Click Here for a list of things to NEVER use on your carpet.

If you paint your nails, chances are you have had a spill before. If this is your first time cleaning up a nail polish spill, these methods to remove nail polish out of a carpet provide you with everything you need to quickly clean up the mess and get back to enjoying yourself.

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Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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