How to remove nail polish from carpet, upholstered furniture, and more

Properly polished

Repeating bottles on nail polish on pastel background
(Image credit: Future)

Knocked a bottle of nail polish off a table? It happens to the best of us. You're leaning the bottle on your sofa, and with an accidental nudge of an elbow, a curious cat, or an excitable roommate, your worst nightmare turns into a messy reality.

All thoughts go through your head, and if you're really panicking, you might be searching for "how to remove nail polish from the carpet" with wet fingernails or toes (eek). And if you don't have an upholstery cleaner to hand, what's a gal to do?

So if you need to get your favorite shade of polish from those Hailey Bieber nails off your couch, cushion, or carpet, gloss over these top tips for rapid finger polish removal. You'll need to work at super speed with the latest fast-drying products. So what are you waiting for? Let's get to work.

Good to know

Time: 15 minutes 

Difficulty: Easy (for removing something so sticky, the process is fairly quick and ultra-easy) 

Helpful hints: While it is possible to remove wet or dry nail polish, for effective removal, the sooner you target the stain, the better. Don't leave the spilled polish to sit for any longer than you have to. 

Here's what you'll need

How to remove nail polish from carpet

Step 1: Pour salt onto the spilled polish  

Before you attempt to remove the stain, the first step is to soak up the spilled polish. A TikTok-approved hack for this is sprinkling salt onto the spill. Once the salt has soaked up the polish, you can then use a dustpan and brush to remove it. Don't have a dustpan and brush? This Mr. Siga dustpan and brush set from Amazon is a great buy!

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Step 2: Soak the stain with white vinegar

Soak any leftover nail polish with white vinegar (we always like to recommend this Heinz white vinegar available at Amazon). Pour the vinegar over the stain, soaking it completely, and leave it to sit for around 10 minutes. 

Step 3: Blot the stain with more vinegar 

Soak a clean microfiber cloth (this set of Mr. Siga microfiber cloths from Amazon are ideal for this) in vinegar and gently blot the stain. Be careful not to rub the stained area, as you may spread the stain. Instead, carefully pat it with the vinegar-soaked cloth. 

Step 4: Scrub the stain with a clean cloth  

Taking a clean, damp cloth scrub the stained area until all nail polish residue and color is no longer visible. 

Step 5: Allow to air dry  

Once the stain is no longer visible, blot the area with a paper towel, before allowing it to air dry.  

FAQS

Can you remove wet nail polish from hard flooring?

Got paint on your laminate flooring, real wood, or tiles? Then take a look at this sweet hack.

"If you spill nail polish on your floor, quickly sprinkle sugar all over it whilst it’s still wet. The sugar will make the nail polish clump so you can sweep or vacuum up off the floor — no scrubbing needed," says Rebecca Bebbington, content strategist at Netvouchercodes.co.uk.

Be sure to pick up every last grain of sugar though. Otherwise, you'll be reading our guide on getting rid of ants next! If you are worried about a pest infestation, we've heard that table salt can work too. Essentially, you just need a crystalized substance that can soak up the polish.

Can you remove dried-on nail polish from hard flooring?

If it has dried, you may be able to simply scrape it off with your fingers or a blunt butter knife (taking care not to scratch your flooring with the serrated edge). In some cases nail polish remover containing acetone is fine, but don't leave it to penetrate into your floor covering.

"You can use nail polish remover on your ceramic tile as long as you don’t leave it on for too long," says Fernando Garcia-Mantilla, co-owner of JDog® Carpet & Floor Care.

"Simply scrub the polish spill with your remover and dry the area. Then, wash with water or a good tile cleaner a couple of times to ensure there isn’t any lingering chemical."

Make sure to check the type of tile your flooring is made of before applying any treatments. "Like any flooring, the type of tile does matter for how you treat it. For ceramic tile, acetone nail polish remover will be okay. However, stone tiles that have not been sealed, some porcelain tiles, porous soapstone, granite tiles, and marble tiles can experience problems with the use of nail polish remover or nail polish that gets stuck in the cracks," says Garcia-Mantilla.

"For these sensitive surfaces, you can wash the area using a soft-bristled brush with a solution of washing powder or detergent and water. Then, rinse with clear water and allow to dry."

Can you remove nail polish from your upholstered couch?

In order to remove nail polish from soft fabrics, you'll need to act quickly. And the results may depend on what material your furniture is made from. For best results, create a diluted solution of dish soap (1:4 ratio) and dip your cloth into it. Slowly dab it on the stain, turning over to keep using a clean side of the cloth, until the nail polish is removed. Failing that, dip a toothbrush in the soap solution and gently work at the stain, using a clean section of cloth to remove the colored debris and soak up excess moisture. Allow to air dry, then brush the nap of the fabric in the opposite direction.

Can you remove nail polish from a leather couch?

In a word, yes. It is possible to remove nail polish from a leather sofa. For best results, remove any access wet polish with a blunt knife or spatula. (Oh, and if you have only noticed the polish after it has already dried, push down the surface of the leather and peel off the excess polish using your fingernail.) Then, mix white vinegar and olive oil (one part white vinegar and two parts olive oil) and slowly dip an old toothbrush into the mixture. Using a toothbrush, scrub the mixture gently onto the stain. The mixture should aid the nail polish remnants in flaking off, while also conditioning your leather sofa at the same time!

Can you remove nail polish from cushions and pillows?

Thankfully cushions and pillows often come with removable covers, and many of the best washing machines can tackle these stains at low temperatures, with no problem. For the machines that can't, follow the upholstery cleaning tips above.

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.


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