How to Get Nail Polish Out of a Carpet

Okay, so you probably know that you shouldn’t be painting your nails on a carpet. But we’re only human, right? So, if you did paint your nails on the carpet and your nail polish bottle toppled over and spilled, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

If you ever had to remove a lipstick stain from a carpet, you will know that it is easy to make a colored stain worse, even if with the best intentions.

This is especially true for cosmetics, which pretty much have the sole purpose of staining whichever surface you put them on.

For this reason, we have compiled an extensive guide on how to get nail polish out of a carpet.

We’ll look at some of the best ways to remove wet and dry stains and also provide a few home remedies for just about every type of nail polish out there.

What this article covers:

How To Get Fresh Nail Polish Out of A Carpet

how to get fingernail polish out of carpet

Step 1: Dab

If you’re dealing with a fresh stain, you’re in luck because these are much easier to remove than dried-up nail polish stains.

The first step is to act quickly (especially if you’re dealing with a quick-drying polish).

Grab a paper towel or a clean white cloth and gently dab the stain. Some people find fabric to be more efficient than paper towels for this step.

Avoid excessively rubbing the stain to remove it as this will only cause it to spread and smudge.

The point is to remove as much of the excess liquid as possible.

Using your cloth, dab and blot the area until the cloth doesn’t absorb any wet liquid anymore.

It also helps if you fold the cloth and use one spot of it at a time to avoid making the stain worse.

If you spilled an entire bottle and have a lot of excess liquid to deal with, you may want to use a spoon or dull knife to remove the excess first before starting the dabbing process.

And if the nail polish is of the quick-drying kind and it has already dried in the time you scrambled to get your paper towels ready, you may want to move on to the next section that looks at how to deal with dried stains.

Step 2: Choose A Cleaning Solution

After you have dabbed the wet spill, you should be left with the remnant of the liquid to deal with.

This means you are ready to apply a cleaning solution to the affected area. Your first and best choice is to use professional carpet cleaning chemicals, such as an oxygenated cleaner.

how to get nail polish out of a carpet

Alternatively, you can use Hydrogen Peroxide or rubbing alcohol. These are both great for getting makeup stains out of a carpet as well.

If you don’t have either of these products at home, you can also try another popular option, nail polish remover. 

This is particularly effective for removing fresh nail polish from a carpet and if you have nail polish, chances are you have a bottle of this lying around somewhere. 

Try to use an acetone-free nail polish remover if you can to avoid discoloration on the carpet. 

Also, use a clear-colored nail polish remover if you can. 

If the nail polish remover stained your carpet, scroll down to the end to learn how to remove nail polish remover from a carpet.

how to get nail polish out of a rug

Step 3: Clean The Stain

Use a cotton ball or rag and work the cleaning solution of your choice into the stain. Yes, since you are cleaning at this point you can use a bit more force.

Use different parts of the rag for each clean or rotate the cotton balls you use to avoid transferring any of the nail polish you removed back onto the carpet.

For darker carpets, rubbing alcohol works best whereas nail polish remover works best on lighter carpets.

The best way to ensure you choose the best cleaner for your carpet is to test it on an inconspicuous area of the carpet first and to see how it reacts.

This will ensure you know what is safe for use on your carpet.

Step 4: Restore Your Carpet

After you have applied your cleaning solution, it is important to restore your carpet to its original state. Dab up any leftover cleaner and fill a small bowl with water.

Mix the water with some dish soap until the soap has dissolved.

Use a sponge and wring out any excess liquid before lightly scrubbing the cleaned area.

Follow by using another sponge, dipping into clean water this time, and rinse the area again.

Alternatively, use a commercial carpet fiber rinse to finish off the process, following the instructions on the bottle.

how to get nail polish out of the carpet

How To Get Dried Nail Polish Out of a Carpet

Step 1: Scrape

If you let the stain sit for a while and now it’s dried up, or maybe it happened weeks ago and you’re only able to clean it now, don’t worry. Your carpet can still be salvaged.

For dry stains, you want to use a knife to scrape up as much of the dried nail polish off the carpet as you can.

Any dull knife will work well for this purpose. You can also invest in a tool designed specifically for this, such as a Gum Getter to ensure that you get as much of the dried residue out as possible.

how to get dried nail polish out of carpet

Step 2: Soak & Clean

For dry stains, you’ll want to apply a cleaning solution that can sit on the stain for a while. This is to ensure that the paint loosens from the carpet fibers.

Luckily, you have a couple of good options to choose from here. Let’s look at what they are below. 

Commercial Chemicals

Once again, many commercial carpet cleaning chemicals work well for this purpose.

For example, something like a targeted Super Gel will work into the stain and ensure that all remnants of paint are removed from the carpet fibers.

how to get nail polish out of rug

These types of stain removal products are also useful if you want to know how to get anything out of your carpet that tends to attach to the fibers, such as removing powdered makeup from a carpet

Dry Cleaning Solvent

Another great cleaning solution to use is a dry cleaning solvent. Dry cleaning solvent is a powder used for dry cleaning clothes and is often derived from petroleum or benzene chemicals. 

So, if you are using this for cleaning, consider wearing a mask as the fumes of this product can be overpowering. 

If you’re following this approach, use a teaspoon to measure out some of the powder and work it into the stain with a dry toothbrush. Then let it sit for ten minutes.

Then, wet the toothbrush, and brush the stain again using circular motions. At this point, you should see the stain being transferred onto the bristles.

Window Cleaner

how to get dried red nail polish out of carpet

You can also use an ammonia-based window cleaner or pure ammonia, which acts as a powerful agent to loosen and dissolve paint stains.

If you are using pure ammonia, dilute a teaspoon of it in a cup of water first.

Spray the window cleaner or ammonia onto the stain and use a clean cloth to blot up the stain as it starts to lift from your carpet and gets transferred onto the cloth.

Step 3: Rinse

If you are dealing with a dried stain, you need some potent chemicals to remove it, so it is important to rinse the affected area thoroughly to rid your carpet of any lingering smells.

If you used dry cleaning solvent, you will need to vacuum up some of the residues after the stain has dried as well.

To clean the area, mix some dish detergent and warm water and scrub the area with a sponge. Then, take a rag dipped in warm water and start blotting up some of the soap. Then, let the spot air dry.

How To Get a Nail Polish Stain Out of a Carpet

Step 1: Soak & Wet the Stain

how to get dry nail polish out of carpet

So, perhaps you are dealing with a stain that has been there so long it is practically part of the carpet.

To deal with this, you need to relubricate the area to ensure that the polish can be correctly removed from the carpet.

This is similar to the process of removing toothpaste from a carpet, especially when it has been there for a while.

And no, you will not just chuck a gallon of water at it and hope for the best. Rather, you want to lubricate the stain with either vinegar or ginger ale.

If you use the vinegar method you will soak the stain with vinegar (don’t worry about the smell, we will deal with that later).

If you are using ginger ale, put some baking soda onto the stain first, ensuring that it is completely covered (less is not more in this instance). Then, wet the stain with ginger ale.

If the smells of vinegar or the idea of pouring ginger ale on your carpet do not appeal to you, opt for a professional carpet cleaning solvent.

Something like a Citrus Solvent will work well as it is specifically designed for carpet cleaning and it will smell good while you clean the stain.

how to get nail.polish out of carpet

Step 2: Wait

After wetting the stain, allow whatever liquid you chose in the previous step to work into the stain for at least ten minutes.

If you are in a hurry, we recommend going with the professional cleaning solvent as this does not need that much time to work into the stain.

In the meantime, grab a clean white rag for the next step.

Step 3: Blot

If you use a solvent or ginger ale, blot the area with a clean white rag until the stain is removed.

If you use vinegar, you will need to use a little more force.

Use the rag to scrub the area thoroughly. If the smell is overwhelming, you can always use a rag dipped in a mixture of water and dish detergent during this step.

Step 4: Let It Dry

After wetting and removing the stain, you can allow the area to dry out completely.

If you used baking soda, you can use a vacuum to remove any remnants of it.

Finish off by rinsing the area with dish detergent and warm water and dab up the soapy solution with a clean cloth.

If you are worried about any lingering smells, you can follow this process with a carpet cleaning spray or a product designed to neutralize odors, such as Ecocide Citrus Lush.

how to get red nail polish out of carpet

How To Get Nail Polish Out of a Carpet with Sugar

Step 1: Apply Liberally

While this method will only work for fresh spills, it’s possible to use this common household item to clean up nail polish stains.

First, sprinkle the area with sugar. And don’t be shy about it., you want to coat the stain as much as possible.

The sugar acts as an absorbent for the spilled nail polish. 

Some people also use table salt instead of sugar, which works just as well. This is because the granules of table salt will soak up the nail polish just as well as the sugar will. 

Step 2: Wait & Wipe

After applying the sugar, wait two minutes before wiping it up with a damp paper towel.

You can also use a cloth but don’t attempt to vacuum it up because the polish and sugar mixture may damage your machine.

Step 3: Apply Cleaning Solution

how to get nail polish out of carpet with sugar

After removing any sugar residue, you are ready to apply a cleaning solution of your choosing. This can be acetone, window cleaner, or a commercial solvent.

Apply it directly onto the stain or spray it on with a spray bottle. Then, use a clean white cloth to blot up the stain.

After the stain has been completely removed, rinse the area with a mixture of dish detergent and warm water.

How To Get Nail Polish Out Of A Carpet With Hairspray

Step 1: Scrape The Residue

if you have a bottle of hairspray lying around and you want to use it to remove nail polish from your carpet, you should know that it works best on dried stains.

If you are dealing with a wet stain, consider the sugar method or use nail polish remover as described above.

Before applying the hairspray, start by scraping up as much of the residue of the dried nail polish as possible. You can use a spoon or a dull knife for this.

Step 2: Wet Stain

After you have removed as much of the dried residue as possible, wet the stain with cold water.

You can apply a liberal amount of water to ensure the area is thoroughly saturated.

how to get black nail polish out of carpet

Step 3: Apply Hairspray

After the stain has been wetted you are ready to apply your hairspray. Make sure you use hairspray with a high alcohol content. For this method, alcohol-free hairspray just won’t cut it.

In fact, if you use an alcohol-free hairspray you might make the stain even stickier because the alcohol is not there to react with the nail polish and loosen it from the carpet fibers. 

You want to pump at the stain at least 15 times to ensure that enough of the hairspray penetrates the stain.

You might also want to add a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol to the area, especially if you’re dealing with a tougher stain.

Step 4: Scrub

After applying the hairspray, grab a brush. Any cleaning brush with soft bristles will do. You can even use a toothbrush in a pinch.

Use your brush to scrub the affected area for at least one minute. As you scrub, pour clean cold water onto the stain.

You should see the stain starting to disappear. Repeat as often as is necessary to make the stain disappear.

Let the affected area air dry out.

How To Get Gel Nail Polish Out of a Carpet

how to get nail polish remover out of carpet

Step 1: Dab

If you are a fan of having your nails done properly, you will know that gel nail polish is far harder to remove than regular nail polish. But there is some good news.

The main difference between gel polish and regular nail polish is that gel polish does not dry naturally.

Gel polish only dries when it is cured under a UV lamp.

So, when you spill gel polish, you will be dealing with a wet stain which is a bit easier to remove than a dried nail polish stain.

So, the process for removing a gel nail polish stain is almost similar to the process for how to get liquid eyeliner out of a carpet.

And luckily, dealing with the liquid version of a stain is far easier than having to clean it after it has dried.

The first thing you will want to do is start dabbing the area with a clean cloth.

Dab until most of the excess wet polish is removed from the carpet and transferred onto your cloth.

Step 2: Apply Cleaning Solution & Blot

For gel nail polish, your best bet at getting rid of the stain completely will be an ammonia-based window cleaner or Hydrogen Peroxide.

In short, you will need something strong.

If you are looking at using professional cleaning chemicals, opt for something like an Acidic Power Rinse.

how to get polish out of carpet

Spray either onto the stain and let it sit for ten minutes.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide if you are working on a light carpet as it may have a bleaching effect.

Blot the area with a clean white cloth, towel, or paper towel. Repeat the blotting process until the stain disappears.

Then, use a damp sponge and clean up any residual cleaning solution that remains.

Allow the affected area to dry.

How To Get Red Nail Polish Out of a Carpet

Step 1: Scrape or Dab

Don’t worry if you spilled red nail polish on your white carpet. There is still a way to get it out and restore your carpet to its original state.

If the stain is still fresh and wet, grab a paper towel or a cloth and start dabbing the red polish until no more red color is transferred from the carpet onto your cloth.

If the stain has dried, use a blunt knife or spoon and scrape off as much of the dried polish from the carpet as you can.

Step 2: Test Your Cleaning Solution

There is a myriad of cleaning solutions you can apply to remove the red nail polish from your carpet. We highly recommend investing in something like Red Action, which deals with red stains specifically.

remove nail polish carpet

If you want to try a home remedy you can use nail polish remover to deal with the stain.

Apply the nail polish remover or cleaning solution onto an inconspicuous part of the carpet and check that it doesn’t bleach or damage your carpet in any way.

Step 3: Apply Solution

If your cleaning solution is safe for use on your carpet, apply it directly onto the stain.

If none of the above solutions work for your carpet, you can also pour vinegar directly onto the stain and cover the stain in a vinegar-soaked rag. The smell may be pungent though.

Then, let the cleaning solution sit on the stain for a while (10 minutes should do the trick).

Step 4: Blot

Once the waiting time has elapsed, you can use a cloth and gently start blotting the red nail polish stain until it disappears from the carpet.

Use gentle motions and work from the outside of the stain, inwards.

Step 5: Rinse

Rinse the affected area with a mixture of dish detergent (1 teaspoon) and warm water (1 cup).

Follow by rinsing with clean cold water to ensure any remnants of the cleaning solutions are removed. 

How to Get Black Nail Polish Out of a Carpet

Step 1: Remove Excess

Black cosmetics can leave a nasty stain behind when spilled on your carpet. Ask anyone who has had to get black eyeshadow out of a carpet.

If your black nail polish has spilled, try to deal with the stain as quickly as you can. When it is still fresh, you can dab up the excess black liquid using a cloth or paper towel.

For dried black nail polish, use a spoon or blunt knife and scrape off as much of the dried-up black bits as you can.

Step 2: Apply A Cleaning Solution

Once you have moved as much of the excess black nail polish as you can, it is time to apply a cleaning solution.

Luckily, there are many cleaning products specifically designed for darker stains, such as X Brown Premium.

how to get dried fingernail polish out of carpet

Because black stains are stubborn, specifically on lighter carpets, you can also opt for a strong stain removal product that is designed to deal with paint and ink stains, such as Pig Out.

how to get nail polish out of your carpet

Nail polish remover or Hydrogen Peroxide will also work well for a black stain on a light carpet because of the bleaching properties.

For a darker carpet, you can opt for rubbing alcohol, which will easily remove the stain without bleaching your dark carpet.

Apply the cleaning solution of your choice and let it sit for ten minutes. Then blot the area with a clean rag until the stain disappears.

Step 3: Rinse

Finish off the process by rinsing out any remaining cleaning solution from your carpet. Use warm water and dish detergent and rinse the affected area. Then follow by rinsing with cold clean water.

You can also use Alkaline Power Rinse to rinse your carpet as an after-measure, especially for more stubborn stains.

how to get dry fingernail polish out of carpet

How to Get Nail Polish Remover Out of a Carpet

Step 1: Blot

The first thing you want to do is use a towel or absorbent cloth and blot up as much of the acetone as possible. If you only had a small spill, you can skip this step entirely.

The purpose of this is to remove the residual liquid so that the stain can be adequately dealt with.

Step 2: Sponge The Stain

After removing the excess, you need to mix a tablespoon of dish detergent with two cups of warm water.

Use a cloth to soak up some of this cleaning solution and sponge the stain with this solution.

Step 3: Dab

Grab a new cloth and dab the affected area until the nail polish liquid is completely absorbed and continue until the stain is no longer visible.

Be sure to use a white cloth to avoid any discoloration.

Try to work from the outside of the stain, inwards, and avoid rubbing the area too aggressively.

Repeat this process until the nail polish remover stops transferring onto the cloth.

Step 4: Finish Off

how to get gel nail polish out of carpet

Finish off the process by sponging the area with cold water.

You can do this as many times as necessary to completely remove any residual remover or cleaning liquid.

Use a towel to blot the area dry.

Remember to wash all cloths or towels used to clean nail polish remover from a carpet because these may be flammable.

Also, take note that acetone is a powerful solvent that may damage the underpad of your carpet. If this happens, you might need to call in the help of a professional to re-attach the under pad to the carpet again. 


After reading this, it should be clear that any type of nail polish spill on a carpet can be dealt with, No matter how long it has been there.

But it is in your best interest to act as soon as the stain appears to make your life a little easier.

You also don’t need specific know-how to deal with nail polish stains. 

There are many home remedies and specific carpet cleaning products that can assist you in ridding your carpet of the consequences of your painting accident.

So don’t worry too much the next time you want to paint your nails on a carpet. It turns out a little spillage is not the end of the world after all.

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