How to Get Nail Polish Out of Carpet: Top 5 Methods

You were painting your nails, and the bottle spilled. Now you’re left trying to figure out how to get nail polish out of carpet.

There are many strategies for removing nail polish from carpet, and you probably have the supplies on hand for at least one or two of these methods. 

If the spill is fresh, removing the polish will be easy. If the polish is dry, you’ll have to do extra work.

Here’s what to try.

Do This First When You Notice a Nail Polish Spill

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If the nail polish is still wet, grab a paper towel and dab as much as you can. Avoid rubbing, or you’ll work the polish deeper into the carpet.

If the spill is dry, get a butter knife, scrape out as much as possible, and then vacuum.

You can then use one of the methods below to remove the remaining color.

Top Ways to Get Nail Polish Out of Carpet

The methods you can use to get nail polish out depend on the carpet’s color. Some methods (like vinegar) are safe for most carpet. Others, like nail polish remover, are for light carpet only.

No matter the method you choose, spot test first. The last thing you want is a more noticeable stain to crop up.


For White Carpet: Use Clear Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover

You can use a non-acetone nail polish remover if you have white or light carpet. But make sure it’s clear. Pink or purple-dyed nail polish remover may leave behind discoloration.

Wet a cotton ball or paper towel with the nail polish remover. Dab the stain to lift the nail polish. Repeat this step until you no longer see color on your paper towel. If the carpet is still discolored, pour a little nail polish remover on the stain and scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Dab the area with a paper towel.

Repeat until the stain is gone. Soak up excess liquid with a towel and wash the area with dish soap and water.


For Dried Stains: Use Hair Spray and Rubbing Alcohol

After scraping as much nail polish from the carpet as possible, spray the stain with hairspray. (The hairspray must contain alcohol. Alcohol-free varieties won’t work.)

After spraying the stain, dump a splash of rubbing alcohol on it, followed by cold water. Then use an old toothbrush and scrub the area. Next, blot the stain with a paper towel to soak up the color and continue to scrub and scrape until the nail polish disappears.


For Dark Carpet: Use Baking Soda and Ginger Ale

If you have dark carpet, using products like rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover can leave it discolored. Ginger Ale and baking soda are a safer bet, but still, spot test in an inconspicuous area first.

To remove a nail polish stain, follow these steps:

  • Coat the stain with a thick layer of baking soda
  • Pour ginger ale over the baking soda
  • After ten minutes, blot the stain to soak up the color
  • Allow the patch to air dry and then vacuum

Natural Option: Soak the Stain in Vinegar

If you don’t have any of the above products but have white distilled vinegar, you can use it. (Vinegar works best on fresh nail polish stains.)

Here’s what to do:

Pour vinegar over the stain – it should be wet but be cautious of using so much that it penetrates the carpet. Next, dampen a rag with vinegar and place it over the stain. 

After ten minutes, use your rag to blot up the nail polish. If all of it doesn’t come out, add a drop of dish soap to an old toothbrush and scrub the area, dabbing as you go. Afterward, rinse with fresh water and allow it to air dry.


For Light, Fresh Spills: Use Foaming Shaving Cream

If you have a small fresh spill from light-colored nail polish, a foam shaving cream like Barbasol may do the trick.

Start by blotting the nail polish with a paper towel. Then spray the area with white shaving foam and work it into the stain. After a minute, scrub with a soft-bristled brush and dab up the foam and nail polish with a paper towel.

Shaving cream doesn’t work as well as the other methods, but if it’s all you have on hand, it’s worth a try.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Will W-D 40 remove nail polish?

W-D 40 will remove nail polish from carpet, but be careful not to overuse it. Spray a little on the stain, wait 30 seconds, and blot it with a damp paper towel. Rinse with water afterward. Because of its strong smell, use WD-40 as a last resort.

How do you use sugar to remove nail polish stains?

Sugar can soak up excess nail polish, making it helpful for fresh spills. To try this method, sprinkle sugar over top of the polish, wait a minute and wipe it with a damp paper towel. Then, follow up with another stain removal method.

What's the best way to get nail polish remover out of carpet?

If you’ve spilled nail polish remover on your carpet, grab a cotton ball or paper towel and blot up as much as possible. Next, dab the area with a damp rag. Follow this by cleaning with dish soap and water and rinsing with a wet rag.

Final Thoughts

You can remove fresh nail polish spills from your carpet with any of the methods above. If the stain is dry, you’ll need to put in more elbow grease. Remember to test all these methods in an inconspicuous corner or under a piece of furniture to ensure they don’t cause discoloration.

If you have shag carpet and can’t remove the entire stain, consider cutting the areas that won’t come clean, so they blend in.