How to Remove Nail Polish Stains

Nail polish might give you the extra color you want, but if you've ever spilled or slipped while attempting an at-home manicure, you know just how challenging it can seem to remove these stains. But, with these tips from Tide, you can tackle nail polish stains safely. First of all, don't panic! Keep reading to learn how to handle nail polish stains easily using Tide detergent, nail polish remover, or even rubbing alcohol.

A person removing excess stain from a white shirt with a toothbrush
Step 1

Remove Excess

Scrape off any excess from the garment before rinsing under cold, running water. The higher the water pressure, the easier it will be to remove.

Step 1

Remove Excess

Scrape off any excess from the garment before rinsing under cold, running water. The higher the water pressure, the easier it will be to remove.

A person pretreating a denim jacket with Tide liquid laundry detergent and water
Step 2

Pre-treat

Using a bucket, a sink or a bowl, create a soaking solution by adding 1 ounce or 1 tablespoons of Tide Ultra OXI Liquid. Allow the garment to soak for up to 5 minutes, weighting the item with a white towel to keep it totally submerged.

Step 2

Pre-treat

Using a bucket, a sink or a bowl, create a soaking solution by adding 1 ounce or 1 tablespoons of Tide Ultra OXI Liquid. Allow the garment to soak for up to 5 minutes, weighting the item with a white towel to keep it totally submerged.

A person pouring Tide liquid detergent into the detergent dispenser
Step 3

Dose

You can use the cap to ensure you use the right amount of detergent. Just fill it with the correct dose of detergent, and pour it into the detergent dispenser if you have an HE machine, or directly into the drum before loading the clothes if you have a non-HE machine.

Step 3

Dose

You can use the cap to ensure you use the right amount of detergent. Just fill it with the correct dose of detergent, and pour it into the detergent dispenser if you have an HE machine, or directly into the drum before loading the clothes if you have a non-HE machine.

A person loading white clothes into the washing machine drum
Step 4

Load

Without rinsing off the detergent, place the garment into the washer with other items. Leaving the detergent on the stain will give your wash that extra boost of cleaning power.

Step 4

Load

Without rinsing off the detergent, place the garment into the washer with other items. Leaving the detergent on the stain will give your wash that extra boost of cleaning power.

Select the wash cycle and water temperature on your washing machine
Step 5

Wash

Wash on the usual cycle, on the hottest wash temperature indicated. Always check the instructions on the garment’s care label.

Step 5

Wash

Wash on the usual cycle, on the hottest wash temperature indicated. Always check the instructions on the garment’s care label.

A laundry basket full of neatly folded, colored gaments
Step 6

Unload

When the cycle is complete, unload the garments immediately.

If the stain persists after washing, repeat the previous steps before tossing in the dryer, as drying will set the stain.

Step 6

Unload

When the cycle is complete, unload the garments immediately.

If the stain persists after washing, repeat the previous steps before tossing in the dryer, as drying will set the stain.

You can also try nail polish remover to help get rid of stubborn polish stains. Make sure your polish remover is acetone-based or just plain acetone, as some conditioners can leave an oily residue on fabrics. It’s also a good idea to make sure there are no dyes in your nail polish remover as these may stain your garments. First, though, check your garment’s fabric content and care label. If your garment is made from acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic, do not try to pre-treat with nail polish remover! Otherwise, grab an absorbent white cloth or paper towels and follow the steps below.

  1. Do not rub the stain into the fabric, as this will only spread the nail polish into the garment’s fibers.

  2. Soak the white cloth or the paper towel in your solvent, and test for colorfastness on an inconspicuous part of the garment. If no color comes off on the towel, continue to pre-treat.

  3. Rub the stain with the cloth in a circular motion, from the outside in, to keep the stain from spreading. Use dabbing motions to transfer the nail polish from your garment to the cleaning cloth.

  4. Machine wash as usual with Tide detergent.

Extra Tips for Dealing with Nail Polish Stains

  • You can also pre-treat stains using rubbing alcohol or dry cleaning solvent, if you have it.

  • Always check the fabric content label first before attempting to remove any stains. If the item's material contains acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic, or if it's a delicate or dry-clean-only item, do not try to pre-treat with solvents, and take it to the dry cleaner as soon as possible.

  • If you are using any solvent for stain removal, always test for colorfastness first.

Treat nail polish stains as soon as possible, as nail polish dries quickly on fabrics – great for an at-home manicure, but not ideal for stain removal.