How to Get Fingernail Polish Out of Carpet

Before panic sets in, check out these tips that’ll save the day when someone (obviously not you) accidentally spills nail polish on the carpet.

Nail Polish Stain

Nail Polish Stain on Carpet

Removing a nail polish stain is easier than you think with our simple tips and tricks.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

No need to cry over spilled nail polish! The most important thing to remember in your moment of terror is that you must not rub at the spot without first pre-treating it. Avoid temptation, because scrubbing at wet nail polish with a cloth or paper towel will just distribute the polish across the surface and massage it further into the carpet fibers, forcing it to set in faster. Keep your cool and follow these tricks to treat the unfortunate spill.

How to Remove Carpet Stains 04:54

Remove impossible stains like nail polish, grease, ink and wine from carpet with these step-by-step instructions.

Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Attempt this first: Soak a cotton ball with non-acetone nail polish remover and use it to lightly dab at the nail polish spill while it’s still wet. Alternate dabbing the stain with the cotton ball and a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb the remover and the loosening stain. Never saturate the fibers completely with the nail polish remover; only apply enough to dampen the spot, repeatedly dabbing with fresh cotton balls and clean cloths until the stain has lifted. If the stain has already dried, use the nail polish remover as a pre-treating solution to wet the stain, and then supplement with hairspray or dry cleaning solvents to provide extra power.

Never use acetone remover for cleaning nail polish off of carpet that contains acetate, triacetate or modacrylic. If you don’t know what your carpet is made from, don’t risk it. Acetone can be harmful and cause more damage, including deterioration.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol works in a similar way as nail polish remover, so if you don’t have non-acetone nail polish remover, try rubbing alcohol to quickly dissolve the fresh stain before it dries. Be sure not to oversaturate your carpet fibers, and always rotate in new alcohol-covered cotton balls and clean cloths to avoid transferring any of the nail polish you removed back onto the carpet.



Nail polish stain cleaning with special chemical liquid. Carpet cleaning. Early spring cleaning or regular clean up. Inscriptions from the bottle is removed.

Photo by: GettyImages/FotoDuets



Hairspray’s so good to us stain-makers, but as you’re scanning your hair care cabinet, make note that the most effective hairspray has a higher ratio of alcohol as an ingredient. Alcohol-free hairsprays aren’t going to cut through stains.



Macro photogaph of generic aerosol can spraying against dark background; could be cosmetic or spray paint; copy space on and around can

Photo by: GettyImages/shorrocks


If you do have a product that fits the bill, moisten the nail polish stain with a little bit of water and then spritz the hairspray directly onto the stained area. Blot with a clean cloth and repeat to wipe and lift the stain.

Ammonia-Based Window Cleaner

Window cleaning spray is helpful at loosening and dissolving a number of stains, including nail polish, but it’s important to note that you must use a product that’s ammonia based. Spray the stain and use a clean cloth to blot it up as the stain begins to loosen and lift from the carpet fibers.

Carpet Cleaning Guide

How to Get Stains Out of Carpet

A good quality carpet could last for many years with proper care and maintenance. Learn how to remove stains from wine, nail polish, coffee and more.

If what you have available is pure ammonia, work more cautiously and dilute a teaspoon into in a cup of water before dabbing it onto your carpet.

Dry Cleaning Solvent

Spot treat dry nail polish stains on a carpet using dry cleaning cleanser. The compound cleaning agents that make up store-bought dry carpet cleaners come as a powder, so work a teaspoon of the cleaner into the stain with an old toothbrush. Let it set in for 10 minutes or so, and then rub in circles at the stain with the same toothbrush, but this time wet the brush with water to further spot-treat the spilled nail polish. The bristles will begin to remove the stain. Wipe the area down with a clean, dry cloth, and once the nail polish is removed, vacuum the rug to remove any remaining dry carpet cleaning granules.

Tricks to Clean Carpet Stains 01:00

Save the day with these tricks to remove common carpet stains.

Trim the Spot With Scissors

On shaggy carpets and rugs with varied textures and fibers, it’s more likely that you can give your carpet a “haircut” without it being obvious. If the nail polish has remained on the ends of the carpet fibers, let the polish fully air dry, and then use sharp scissors to trim the tips of the carpet. Some carpets are shaggy enough that it’s easy to separate the threads by hand and trim only the affected pieces of carpet. For low pile carpets, use your best judgment – you don’t want to accidentally create a “bald spot.”



Brown doormat carpet

Photo by: GettyImages/IltonRogerio


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