How to Get Nail Polish Out of Clothes Naturally
By Marilee Nelson |
Few messes induce panic like spilling a big dab of nail polish on your favorite clothes!
Fortunately, with a little patience, some technique, and the right non-toxic stain removers, even nail polish can be safely removed from most clothing.
Tools You’ll Need to Remove Nail Polish From Clothes
The great thing about non-toxic stain removal is you typically don’t need a fancy stain remover to do the job.
Like many of our non-toxic cleaning hacks, removing nail polish from most fabrics* can be accomplished using Branch Basics and everyday household items.
*Removing nail polish from wool, silk, or dry clean only fabrics should be left to the professionals. See our article on How To Wash Dry-Clean-Only Clothing At Home for helpful tips on reducing dry cleaning chemical exposure.
Here’s what you’ll need to remove nail polish naturally:
- A spoon, business card, or piece of paper
- Branch Basics Concentrate
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Less-toxic nail polish remover (there is no perfect non-toxic option)
- Microfiber cloth or towels
- Branch Basics Laundry or your favorite non-toxic laundry detergent
Tips for Removing Nail Polish From Clothing
The sight of a cherry red or pink splotch on a favorite blouse or pair of jeans is enough to make most people distressed.
However, successful removal of nail polish from clothing takes a steady hand and some patience.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, scrubbing is not your friend when it comes to nail polish stains.
That’s because scrubbing or aggressive rubbing will only drive the polish deeper into the clothing fibers, making it harder to remove.
Here’s what to do instead.
Remove Excess Polish Before Cleaning
To remove excess polish, use a blunt object like a spoon, business card, or folded piece of paper to scrape off as much polish as possible gently.
Again, do not scrub or rub vigorously.
Gently scrape off the excess and move on to the next step.
Let Polish Dry
Although most non-toxic stain removal techniques work best on fresh wet stains, nail polish is the exception.
That’s because agitating wet nail polish can drive it deeper into the fabric, creating a much more stubborn stain.
If you’re anxious to get to work, place the garment outside or apply an ice pack to speed up the drying process.
We do not recommend using a blow dryer as heat could worsen the stain.
Before using any of these non-toxic methods, test an inconspicuous portion of the garment, such as an inner seam.
If no discoloration or damage is detectable, it’s safe to use on the rest of the garment.
Now that you’ve removed the excess polish and let the stain dry, it’s time to remove that stain and get on with your life.
Note: These techniques generally work best on washable vs. dry-clean-only clothing, so bear that in mind as you approach the stain-removal process.
Here are some non-toxic stain removal methods to try.
Branch Basics Method
Branch Basics Concentrate is our weapon of choice for removing nail polish from clothes naturally.
This 100% non-toxic soap contains natural oils that can gently pull nail polish out of most fabrics.
Concentrate is typically diluted with water for various cleaning purposes, including laundry. However, for nail polish stains, it works best undiluted.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Apply a squirt of Branch Basics Concentrate to a cotton ball or swab.
Step 2: Gently work the Concentrate into the nail polish stain using a gentle sweeping motion (the cotton ball/swab should help you avoid over-scrubbing). You should see the nail polish starting to come off on the cotton ball.
Step 3: Replace the Concentrate-soaked cotton ball or swab with a fresh one as it picks up more color (this will avoid spreading the stain).
Step 4: Once all (or nearly all) of the polish has come off, rinse the stain in very warm water to remove the soap and any remaining polish
Step 5: Repeat if necessary until all the stain is gone.
Step 6: Launder, as usual, using Branch Basics Laundry.
If this method does not remove all the nail polish, or if you don’t have Branch Basics Concentrate on hand, move on to the next step.
H3: Hydrogen Peroxide Method
Hydrogen Peroxide is a fantastic non-toxic nail polish stain remover, brightener, and bleach alternative for clothing if the fabric is white
You can use this method as a follow-up to the Branch Basics method or alone to remove polish.
Note: Since Hydrogen Peroxide has a bleaching effect, use it confidently on white clothing.
Step 1: Dip a microfiber cloth into hydrogen peroxide.
Step 2: Gently and patiently blot the area to remove the nail polish.
Step 3: Rinse well under warm water and apply the Branch Basics Method again if needed.
Step 4: Launder as usual.
Even though hydrogen peroxide can typically be used safely on colored clothing, special care should be used.* Follow steps above keeping in mind the tips below.
*Tips for Colored Clothing
- Check to see if the dye in the fabric has been set. Dip a cotton swab into hydrogen peroxide and rub it on the hem or inconspicuous area of the garment to see if any dye rubs off. If you see color coming off onto the swab, do not proceed with the process.
- Dilute the hydrogen peroxide with water
- Do not leave the hydrogen peroxide on the fabric to dwell
Less-Toxic Nail Polish Remover Method
This method can work well on wet or dry stains—especially if followed up with the Branch Basics Concentrate Method and a good laundering. Unfortunately, there are no truly non-toxic and effective nail polish removers on the market (and if there are, we haven’t heard about them).
That said, there are safer options, such as Acquarella Polish Remover or Honeybee Gardens Nail Polish Remover Gel, that are free from acetone and other toxic ingredients. As such, we recommend this method as a last resort and definitely recommend testing the remover on an inconspicuous place first.
Step 1: Apply the polish remover using a cotton ball or cotton swab, dabbing up as much polish as you can. It’s a good idea to wear gloves if you’re concerned about ingredients in the polish remover.
Step 2: Replace the cotton ball or swab as it becomes colored to avoid redistributing the stain.
Step 3: Rinse and follow up with the Branch Basics method to soak up the last of the polish.
Step 4: Rinse well and launder as usual.
Step 5: If you didn’t wear gloves, wash your hands to remove any excess polish remover.
Learn more about safer beauty and personal care products in: Our Favorite Non-Toxic Personal Care Products.
Nail Polish Cleaning FAQs
Looking for more information on getting nail polish out of clothing naturally? Check out these FAQs below.
Q: How Long Does it Take for Nail Polish Stains to Fade?
A: This depends on the stain's severity and the methods you used to remove it.
If you got most of the stain out, you could speed fading by sunning.
We recommend sunning as a natural bleaching alternative for stains and to help outgas/offgas new clothing and household items.
All you have to do is place your garment in the sunshine for a few hours daily and let the sun’s rays do their magic.
Keep in mind the sun will also fade the color of the clothes, so be sure to monitor this process with darker clothing.
Learn more in: Sunning: How To Take Advantage Of The Summer Sun By Outgassing (AKA: Offgassing)
Q: Is Nail Polish Remover Toxic?
A: Yes, chemical-based nail polish removers are toxic; even more natural options still contain potentially harmful ingredients.
As previously mentioned, we're aware of no completely non-toxic and effective brands of polish remover
The best you can do is to look for brands that are free from:
- Methyl Acetate
- Petrochemical solvents
- Propylene Glycol
Does that mean you should never ever wear nail polish or use nail polish remover?
We recommend using the least toxic brands of nail polish when you feel you must wear nail polish. Most people can use a less toxic brand without an issue. We discuss less toxic brands in: Our Favorite Non-Toxic Personal Care Products.
Q: When Should I Seek Professional Help for Nail Polish Removal?
A: Nail polish stains on dry clean-only clothing are best left to the professionals
Also, if you’re unsuccessful in removing the polish on your wash-at-home clothing using these methods, you may wish to consult a professional cleaner to see if they can save your garment.
If you do, follow the steps in How To Wash Dry-Clean-Only Clothing At Home to reduce your exposure to dry cleaning chemicals at pick up and at home.
Remove Your Tough Stains With Branch Basics
Whether you consulted this article during a nail polish crisis or proactively, you now have the knowledge and tools to remove nail polish from clothing naturally.
Are you interested in trying Branch Basics for stain removal?
Check out our Stain Master Guide here, and consider our $5.00 trial kit to test out our Concentrate on your clothes, surfaces, bathrooms, kitchen, stains, and much more.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.