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How to Get Nail Polish Out of Clothes in 4 Steps

nail polish on its side

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There's a lot to be said about performing your own manicures and pedicures at home. The savings alone are a major perk, but also regular touch-ups are a smart way to extend the life of a professional polish. Still, as plenty of people know, DIY spa experiences also come with their fair share of risks. One all-too-common blunder? Getting a bright streak of nail polish on clothing. Since nail polish is quite literally designed to stain, getting that splotch of bright red out of your favorite blouse can indeed be tricky—but we promise it's not impossible. In fact, we've put together a clear, straightforward guide on how to get nail polish out of clothes when you're in a pinch. With a few common tools, your clothing can be back to normal in no time.

Read on to learn how to get nail polish out of clothes in four easy steps.

nail polish out of clothes
Brooke Pelczynski/Byrdie 

Step 1: Cool the Area

As with any stain-related mishap, time is of the essence. Use an ice pack to chill the area, effectively drying and containing the spill as quickly as possible. This is especially pertinent to nail polish; its liquidity is far more likely to spread and smudge. Next, lightly touch the spot with your fingertip to confirm that the polish has hardened before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Remove Excess Polish

Now that the polish is dry, it should be possible to gently peel any excess flakes off the fabric. Carefully use a set of tweezers to gently lift the polish along the edges, making sure not to tear the fabric. How much polish you're able to remove in this step will depend on the type of fabric and the size of the spill.

Step 3: Clean the Stain

Using a clean, soft cloth (microfiber works best), gently blot the area with an acetone-based nail polish remover. It's wise to test the solution on a less-conspicuous patch of fabric first, as certain fabric dyes can be negatively affected by acetone. This method is a great fix for natural fabrics such as cotton and linen, and can also work well on many synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester. However, certain delicate and high-end fabrics like silk and wool may deteriorate when they interact with nail polish remover. If you're not sure how your fabric will hold up, this is a job for your local dry cleaner.

Step 4: Wash as Usual

Once you've thoroughly dabbed the area and the stain has diminished, it's time to run it through the wash in accordance with the item's care label. Use a high-quality laundry detergent and be sure the machine is set to use cold water only. Finish up by letting the garment hang to dry. If the stain persists after washing, a professional may need to take it from here.

If Needed, Send to the Cleaners

If a particularly beloved article of clothing is at stake (or if the label includes special care instructions), the best way to get nail polish out of clothing might be as simple as heading to a trusted dry cleaner. Once the item is clean, you'll be ready in case of another nail polish emergency—just consider wearing an old T-shirt during application this time.

Up next, learn how to get nail polish out of your carpet.

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