nail polish on carpet

How to Get Nail Polish Out of Carpet

If you are like me, it doesn’t matter how careful you are when painting your toenails because a rogue blob of nail varnish almost always finds its way onto the carpet!

Oh, and the splodge in question is only ever in one vivid shade, too – red! And to cap it off, the carpet is usually light-coloured, so the blob-infested zone is glaringly obvious…

But instead of racing around the house, hopping from one back foot to another, trying to find a solution to the problem, check out the cleaning tips below. They’ve been a lifesaver for me.

You’ll also be surprised to learn how easy it is to remove nail polish from a carpet!

Note: You must do a patch test with all of the products below before you use them to clean nail polish off a carpet.

Some chemicals listed below may discolour a carpet, especially dark-coloured ones. Avoid acetone and bleach, as they will damage the carpeted surface.


Getting Fresh Nail Polish Off a Carpet

Option 1: Hairspray (for dark carpets)

remove nail polish from carpet with hairspray

Steps to follow:

  1. Grab a teaspoon and some kitchen roll.
  2. Scoop up as much nail varnish as you can off the carpet – be careful when doing this because you don’t want to drive the varnish deeper into the carpet’s fibres.
  3. Scrape the varnish off the surface, and wipe the excess off your tool with a piece of kitchen roll.
  4. Repeat Step 3 so you’re only left with a colourful stain on the carpet.
  5. Grab a piece of kitchen roll and blot the stained patch to absorb even more varnish from the surface – do this gently.
  6. Repeat Step 5 multiple times – remember to use a new patch of kitchen roll each time you blot.
  7. Stop blotting when the kitchen roll doesn’t lift any more varnish off the floor.
  8. Press a damp cloth onto the stained area to moisten it a little.
  9. Spray a generous amount of hairspray onto the stained patch (you must use one with a high alcohol content).
  10. Wait a minute or two.
  11. Grab a neutral-coloured microfibre cloth – squirt some cold water onto it to moisten it if need be.
  12. Blot at the area.
  13. Repeat Steps 8-12 until the stain has been removed from the surface – use a new patch of cloth each time you blot so that you don’t reapply the dirt.

Tip: Always wear gloves when handling/using cleaning products!


Option 2: Rubbing alcohol (may discolour some dark carpets)

clean carpet with rubbing alcohol

Need something stronger? Just follow the steps outlined in Option 1 above, but dab the stain with rubbing alcohol instead of squirting it with hairspray.

  1. Dab a little rubbing alcohol onto the stained area and continuously blot at it/use a soft toothbrush to work the solution in.
  2. Repeat Step 1 until the stain vanishes.
  3. Rinse the area clean with a new neutral-coloured cloth that’s been dipped in some soapy water (washing-up liquid and water).
  4. Open the window to allow plenty of fresh air into the room and to dry the carpet.


Option 3: Acetone-free nail varnish remover (for light carpets)

cleaning carpet with commercial cleaner

Steps to follow:

  1. Scrape as much nail polish as you can off the carpeted surface – use a blunt tool to do this.
  2. Blot the stained patch with some kitchen towels to soak up any wet polish.
  3. Pour a small amount of acetone-free nail varnish onto a neutral-coloured cloth.
  4. Gently blot the cloth onto the varnished area.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 to 4 until the stain has been removed from the surface.
  6. Blot the area with a damp, soapy cloth to remove excess product from the surface.
  7. Grab a dry towel and use it to remove excess liquid from the carpeted surface.
  8. Allow the area to dry naturally.


Option 4: Distilled white vinegar (for light carpets)

spraying vinegar on carpet

Steps to follow:

  1. Open some windows to leave fresh air into the room.
  2. Remove as much polish as you can from the carpet using a blunt tool like a teaspoon.
  3. Pat the carpet with some kitchen roll to remove wet varnish from it.
  4. Pop some white vinegar directly onto the stain.
  5. Soak a cloth in some white vinegar and rest this on top of the polish stain.
  6. Wait about 10 minutes.
  7. Grab the cloth off the floor and repeatedly blot the stain with it – use a new patch of cloth each time you blot.
  8. If you need to, rub the area with a soft toothbrush and a blob of washing-up liquid.
  9. When the stain has gone, rinse the area clean using a cloth that’s been soaked in some warm water.
  10. Blot the surface with a dry towel to remove excess moisture from it.
  11. Allow the surface to air dry naturally.


Option 5: Ginger ale and bicarbonate of soda (for dark carpets)

ginger ale and baking soda for nail polish on carpet

Steps to follow:

  1. Remove as much nail polish as you can from the carpeted surface – use a teaspoon or plastic spatula.
  2. Dab the area with some kitchen roll to remove the excess varnish.
  3. Grab your bicarbonate of soda and pour an even layer of powder over the stained area.
  4. Pop a little ginger ale in a spray bottle.
  5. Squirt the ginger ale onto the bicarb.
  6. Wait about ten minutes.
  7. Grab a neutral-coloured cloth.
  8. Soak it in cool water and wring it out.
  9. Blot the stained area clean – continuously rinse the cloth to remove grime from it.
  10. Repeat Steps 8 and 9 until the stain disappears.
  11. Grab a dry neutral-coloured towel and blot the wet patch of carpet with it – extract moisture from the floor.
  12. Leave the carpet to air dry naturally.

Note: Don’t soak your carpet because it’ll take ages to dry! Always pat your carpet with a neutral-coloured cloth to remove excess liquid from it when you’re done treating it.


Option 6: Professional carpet cleaning (all types of carpet)

professional carpet cleaner

If you’re not having much luck with the methods above, or you’ve got a major varnish issue on your hands, perhaps you’d better call a professional carpet cleaner in to wash the carpet for you.

You can find a carpet cleaner in your local area by doing an online search.

Just remember:

  • Choose a reputable company.
  • Read reviews.
  • Check price lists (look out for hidden costs, for example).
  • Ask questions (“What cleaning products will be used?” for example).
  • Find out if you need to do anything beforehand (move furniture, for example).


Getting Dried Nail Polish Off a Carpet

dried nail polish on carpet

Getting dried nail varnish off a carpet can be tricky and may take a little longer. But it’s not impossible to remove the blemish from your carpeted surface!

Follow the advice below:

  • You’ll need to scrape off as much nail varnish as possible from the surface. To do this, you can use blunt tools like teaspoons and spatulas. But for longer piled carpets, a nit comb might come in handy.
  • The hairspray method above generally works well. But you may have to repeat the process multiple times. This, of course, does bring about some issues, including wear and tear-related trouble, and the surface may start to discolour. So use it with caution!
  • Rubbing alcohol also works well when it comes to old nail varnish stains on a carpet. But as with hairspray, you may need to apply this treatment multiple times to see significant results. So, you might notice some discolouration on your carpet.
  • If you have several blobs of nail varnish on your carpet, perhaps it would be easier to call a professional out to help you. In addition to cleaning the polish-related blemishes, they’ll also be able to clean the rest of the carpet for you as a bonus.


Does Nail Polish Stain?

nail polish stain on carpet

If you act really quickly, you should be able to remove nail varnish from your carpet.

However, nail polish is quick drying and comes in a bunch of fanciful colours that can stain carpets, especially light ones.

So, there is always a risk that you’ll end up with a nail varnish blemish on your carpeted surface.

Old nail polish, in particular, loves to leave marks on carpets and rugs and is normally quite difficult to remove.

Tip: Don’t paint your nails near a carpet if you’re concerned about getting nail varnish on the surface. Or, at the very least, cover the surface so if you drop a blob of polish, it won’t matter as much.