You can find nail paints in almost every house because it is something that almost every woman uses. It is not a part of someone’s makeup. Nail polishes are to nails, what almost salt is like to our daily food. Without it, everything seems bland. There is a plethora of brands and an infinite number of shades to choose from when it comes to nail paints, and almost every one of those colors finds a complementing match with the clothes that you wear, or the accessories you carry. And as much as easy it is to apply a perfect coat of nail paint, it is even more easy to make a mess out of those mini bottles that store them. And as if that was not enough, you can still make a mess even after you successfully replaced the cap on it. There is always a possibility that you can smear some of that anywhere if you are not too cautious. Most of you will agree to this, that nail polish looks only good on nails, not on clothes, floor or appliances. And rest is okay, but it is extremely difficult to get these stains out of clothes. And if you have got or created one yourself, and are wondering how to remove nail polish stains from clothes, you are in the right place.
But before that, we need to understand the Chemistry that goes behind painting your nails. We know that nail polishes fall into the category of Lacquer, which is a glossy chemical substance used for providing a shiny finish to different surfaces. It is in a liquid form, but after applying and giving enough time, it forms a solid, firm coating on the surface.
So the major ingredient in Nail Polish Lacquer is called Nitrocellulose, which is mostly used in explosives. Don’t worry, it is perfectly safe while on your fingernails. It is mixed with Ethyl Acetate, which is actually a chemical solvent. This keeps the Nitrocellulose in a liquid form inside the bottle. Also, Ethyl Acetate is the reason your nail paint smells the way it does, like a chemical.
After you apply the paint on your nails, the solvent evaporates slowly, leaving behind the Nitrocellulose to harden and form a thin, firm layer on the surface. The same solvent only is used to prepare non-Acetone based nail paint remover, as it dissolves the Nitrocellulose back into its liquid form, facilitating removal. Also, nail paints contain “pearl essence”, which gives it the shiny look that everyone adores.
Now that we have a somewhat working knowledge, we can go ahead and check out some easy and valuable ways to get nail paint stains out of our clothes. But before you begin to read this list out, there is one important thing you should know. When you spill or smear nail polish over your clothes or a similar surface, there is not really much that you can do. Most of the ways that people will suggest you are supposed to be working on solid surfaces. This is because to get it out of clothes is to take it out of the fibers, which is difficult, to say the least.
So, the first step in your plan of action should be to take it to the dry cleaner’s instead of taking it upon yourself to clean them, because then you are running the risk of discoloring the cloth, or worse yet, ruin them beyond repair. Do not take any step without proper knowledge or guidance. You should only make use of these remedies if there is no other way except discarding them forever.
With that said, here is a list of ways that you can use to remove nail polish stains from clothes.
How To Remove Nail Polish Stains From Clothes?
1. Ice Pack
Believe your eyes or not, this should be the very first step one should take in order to get the nail polish stain out of any fabric. Remember how we have to wait till the nail paint dries? Well, this uses the same principle to work out the stain, only, this time you can’t wait. You have to do it immediately, so the stain does not set in too deep. Take an ice pack to the stain, so that the polish hardens. This hardened state is more brittle in nature and can be easily broken. Now either you can break this stain and pick them out, or you can take a pair of tweezers and pull the blob out at once. This would help you to take out as much of the nail polish out of the fabric as possible.
2. Nail Polish Remover
Like we discussed before, nail polishes have Nitrocellulose that forms the firm thin coat of paint that we see. It is stored in the bottle with the help of a solvent so it remains in a liquid form and usable. So, if you accidentally spilled or smeared some nail paint on your favorite pillow, carpet or piece of clothing, there is no need to worry. You can easily use nail polish remover to get rid of these stains. Nail polish removers contain Acetone, which is a chemical solvent and can be used for removing these stains. Though, you should avoid using it if the fabric that you are treating is made of Acetate or any such artificial fiber (1). This is because Acetone, as a solvent, will dissolve the Acetate and you will end up ruining your cloth. Also, if you are trying to get the stain out of a piece of clothing, it is advisable to test the nail polish remover on a hidden seam, so you can check that it will not harm the fabric or fade the color on it. This is because Acetone is not the only ingredient in nail polish remover. (2) Begin by reading the label on the fabric. Check that it does not contain Acetate or Triacetate. Therefore, this method works best with cotton, linen, silk, denim and other such fabrics. Spread a few paper towels and put the portion of the fabric that is stained on them, making sure that the spot is in contact with the towels. Using a cotton ball, Q-tip or paper towel, soaked in Acetone, and blot the backside of the stain with it. This will transfer the stain onto the paper towels. Rinse the stained area and repeat the action. Follow this by laundering the clothing as per the instructions on the label.
3. Rubbing Alcohol
Nail polish stains are a little difficult to work on, that much can be mutually agreed upon. A major portion of it is owed to the chemistry behind nail paints. We need to introduce a solvent to dissolve the stain again, in order to properly get it out. Apart from the regular nail polish remover, we can also use rubbing alcohol to remove nail polish stains. This is a particularly effective method if you spilled nail polish on your precious carpet. Requirements for this are rather simple; blunt knife, rubbing alcohol and detergent. Let us show you how to remove dried nail polish from carpet. Using the knife (make sure it is dull, so you don’t cut yourself or the carpet), scrape off as much of other material and dried residual nail polish from the carpet. Apply some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth, preferably white, or a cotton ball. Blot the stain with this until the color stops to be transferred. The alcohol should not get too deep into the carpet or it can harm the latex. Avoid working on the stain in a circular motion, or you will affect the texture in a bad way. As soon as the spot is removed, stop the procedure and rinse with normal water from a spray bottle (3).
4. Commercial Solvent
Commercial solvents are very easily and abundantly available in the market. Solvents make it easy for us to tackle certain stains, like nail polish. They are less corrosive to human skin, being the reason that they are so openly sold in the market. If you have stained something that is made up of fibers of blended material, and you have no idea what to do, you can use a combination solvent like Magic, or Spray n’ Wash, to take on the stain. A combination solvent is a homogeneous mix of an oil solvent, glycerin, soap, and/or water. This is used because it has no toxicity in it. How to remove nail polish from clothes made of synthetic fibers? Here is how; soak a cleaning cloth in this combination solvent, and place it over the stain. Put some pressure but remember not to rub the cloth on the stain. Keep bloating the middle of the stain with the solvent, meanwhile rotating to the newer areas of the cleaning cloth. When all of the stain is gone, rinse the area with a damp sponge (4). Although the solvent is not toxic, it is always necessary to take proper precautions. Do not forget to test the solution somewhere inconspicuous before trying it out on the actual fabric.
5. Ethyl Acetate
Yes, the substance that they use to keep nail polish in a liquid form inside the bottle, can also be used for removing the stains of nail polish from various surfaces. Ethyl Acetate is commercially sold as a non-Acetone based nail polish remover (5). If you are thinking how to remove nail polish from fabric that has Acetate in it, it is not at all strenuous. The process of stain removal using Ethyl Acetate is the same as that with normal nail polish remover. Lay down some paper towels and put the stain, facing down, over these towels. Now on the back side of the fabric, blot the stain using a cloth or cotton ball soaked in the nail polish remover. Wait for the stain to be dissolved in the solvent and the stain to be transferred to the towels. Keep on changing the towels at regular intervals with fresh towels. After the stain has been removed, gently rinse the area with a damp sponge. Again, if you are uncertain, try the nail paint remover over a hidden part of the fabric to check if it affects or discolors the area.
6. Acetone and Hydrogen Peroxide
While clothes, pillow covers, table cloth etc are all that you can easily clean in a washing machine, it is an entirely different story to clean upholstery fabric. Mainly because there is no way that you can take it out and dump it in the washing machine. So, to employ an alternative means of stain removal, begin with blotting up the excess polish. Using a simple dropper, pour a small amount of Acetone on the stain and blot it immediately. Keep doing this part till no more of the stain gets separated from the surface. After this, sponge some dry cleaning solvent onto the stain with the help of a clean white cloth. We advise white to avoid any color transfer. Blot the stain until it absorbs the solvent. Now with the help of an eye dropper, pour Hydrogen Peroxide directly on the stain. Sponge this area with some cold water and blot to dry and remove the Hydrogen Peroxide (6)
7. Amyl Acetate
Amyl Acetate is another Lacquer solvent and is sometimes used as a nail polish remover. It is used as a non-Acetone based nail paint remover. But its uses are not limited to just nails as it can also be used in place of Acetone for removing nail polish stains from clothes and fabrics. It is particularly useful in the case of clothes that would be otherwise damaged or dissolved by Acetone. But we can only use the pure chemical form of Amyl Acetate, because the industrial grade of the solvent will have the same effect as Acetone (7). You can use Amyl Acetate not only on natural and synthetic fibers, but on wool too. Begin by scraping or blotting of the excess of the stain, and do it immediately, so you avoid making the stain worse than what it currently is. Next, pour some Amyl Acetate on the stain and cover with a cloth that is damp with the same. The cloth should be absorbent enough to soak the stain. Keep these moist for a total of about 15 minutes with occasional blotting to the cloth surface. After that, scrape the surface with the cloth or pad so as to loosen the stain from the fibers. Now, spread some commercial spot remover over the stain and allow for it dry out before washing it. Try to use a spot remover with Hydrocarbons in it. (8)
Things To Remember While Cleaning Nail Polish Stains
We can’t stress on this enough that nail polish stains are not as easy to get rid of as is the case of removing nail paint from your nails. Hard surfaces do not have the trouble of stains seeping inside the layers. But clothes and fabrics have this tendency.
Time is of the essence in such cases. If you happen to spill some on a carpet, you have only a few minutes before the stain sets in and becomes a little more difficult to get rid of. A few hours, and you might just have to give it to the dry cleaners. And a few days delay can cost you a good piece of clothing or upholstery. So the quicker you act on the stain, the easier it will be to get the stain out. The earlier you decide to act, the better it will be for that piece of clothing.
Also, if you are in doubt of what you should do in such cases, then instead of taking things in your hands and trying to get the stain out by yourself, it will be more in your interests to take a tour to the dry cleaners, because they have access to solvents and cleaners that we will probably take years to search for. Another reason to take the stain to the dry cleaners is that they will help you better identify the stain, so you can act accordingly. Also, if your cloth is made of a fabric that uses Acetate or Triacetate in it, then instead of treating it yourself and running the risk of converting it to froth, you should hand it over to the dry cleaner.
Before you go ahead and try the nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol on any of your possessions to remove nail polish stains, it is highly advised that you try out the solvent on an inconspicuous corner or hidden seam of the clothing. This is because just in case there is any reaction between the cloth and the solvent, or any chances of discoloration, it will act as a red flag to you. This may persuade you in choosing to go to the dry cleaners.
Moreover, most of the solvents that are used in these tips are all highly flammable. So it is, therefore, advised that you carry out all these activities in a well-ventilated area. Also, do not sit anywhere near a fire because the fumes of these substances can catch fire. Solvents like Acetone, Acetate, rubbing alcohol are all flammable and so, you must undertake all precautions before deciding to go further with these. It may be a disaster in waiting which should be avoided.
It will not happen every time that things go as planned. A little something out of the ordinary happens every now and then. Well, it is okay if you spilled or smeared something like nail polish on your clothes, carpet, covers, or upholstery. So instead of giving yourself a hard time over what happened, you should get to work immediately. Do not forget to take necessary caution when it comes to using chemicals and flammable liquids. And if you have even a single shred of doubt prevailing in your mind, just drop everything and take a trip to the dry cleaners. They are, after all, in the business of handling such delicate situations. In the end, no one wants to lose a favorite pair of jeans or have a bright colored smear on a lovely pillow cover.
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