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How Do I Remove Nail Polish from Clothes?

Clear nail polish.
Darker shades of nail polish are more likely to leave stubborn stains.
Nail polish remover.
Article Details
  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In order to remove nail polish from clothes, you will first have to determine if the item is washable: if it is, you can typically remove the stain at home, although, if it is not, a trip to the dry cleaners will be necessary. If the fabric is washable, localize the stain with a towel or rag. You can then use acetone-based nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, depending on the color of the clothes, to gently dab at the stain until it lifts. Apply a laundry stain treatment to make sure that the nail polish removing product does not stain the clothing itself and wash the item according to the directions on the tag.

Determine if your clothing is washable by checking the tag for care instructions. If no instructions are provided, then you can typically wash fabrics made of acrylic, cotton, and linen, as well as nylon, polyester, or spandex. Tags that indicate that the product is made of silk, wool, acetate, or rayon are typically not washable, and should be taken to the dry cleaners for professional stain removal. In general, these types of fabric cannot hold up to the at-home process, and can become discolored or develop holes in reaction to the chemicals used.

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For washable fabrics, it is important to separate the stained portion of the item from other areas. This will prevent it from transferring to another part of the clothing, requiring more time and effort to remove it. To do this, slide a thick towel or a rag that has been folded over several times directly underneath the portion of the clothing with the stain. The towel or rag will help to absorb the nail polish as you remove the mark.

To remove nail polish from clothes that are colored, you can use an acetone-based nail polish remover. In most cases, non-acetone nail polish remover is not strong enough to lift the polish from the fabric, especially with darker nail colors. For tougher stains or if you do not have acetone nail polish remover, you can use rubbing alcohol for most fabrics. When removing nail polish from white clothing, it is typically best to use hydrogen peroxide, as whites can become discolored when exposed to acetone or alcohol.

Place the desired stain remover on a cotton ball or square, and start dabbing at the stain from the outside in. Working in this direction helps to prevent the stain from spreading out. When removing the stain, it is important not to rub the fabric, as this can also cause the nail polish to spread. Slow, soft dabbing motions are typically all that are needed.

Once you have removed the stain, spray the area lightly with a laundry stain remover or thinned-out liquid laundry detergent and leave it to penetrate for about a half-an-hour. Then, wash the clothing according to the directions on the tag. Before putting the item in the dryer or hanging it to dry, inspect it to make sure that the stain is completely removed. Drying clothes with a stain still in place typically causes it to set, making it more difficult to remove nail polish from clothes.

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