0330 113 4909

Help and Advice Centre


How To Get Nail Varnish Out Of Your Rug

There are few better feelings than a relaxing night in; imagine putting up your feet after a long day and taking the time to pamper yourself a little bit and paint your nails. But that’s when disaster can strike! We’ve all been there. You get distracted by the TV (or the offer of a cup of tea) and suddenly the open nail polish hits the ground and you watch the slow-mo stain form as your favourite Candy Red splashes down on your new cream or beige rug.

It’s almost inevitable this will happen at some point in your life. It’s also a fact that your husband/partner/parents will not understand how you could be so clumsy. So instead, we believe it’s best to make a start at hiding the evidence. Here’s our top advice on removing nail varnish stains from a rug or carpet.

Step 1: Blot and Dry

First thing’s first, you want to remove all of the wet polish which remains on the rug, before it gets the chance to dry and harden. Remember that what you use to remove the polish is likely to be ruined so pick an old tea towel or t-shirt to carefully blot the stain. It’s essential you keep rotating the blotting material to a clean section in order to remove the risk of adding more colour or spreading the surface area of the stain. This is really just to aid the drying and remove the excess, so there’s no time constraint here which means you should work slowly and carefully.

Step 2: The Scrape

Whilst nail polish is frustrating as the cause of so many household stains, it does have the benefit of hardening quickly onto the fibres of the carpet. This means often clean-up doesn’t require the addition of too many harsh chemicals, and a lot of progress can be made from simply scraping the area gently. Locate a blunt, solid implement which you can use as a scraping device; we’d recommend the end of a spoon, or if you’re extra careful (or stuck for supplies) then a credit card works just as well. The aim here is to pick at the dried polish with your chosen implement, unsticking the hardened colour from the rug fibres. If you scrub too hard you risk damaging the rug, so leave the stubborn parts until step 3!

Step 3: Nail Polish Remover (It does what it says on the tin)

It’s a mistake to jump straight to step 3 despite the temptation to just douse the stain in nail polish remover and scrub away. Instead, once as much dry polish is removed as possible you should use acetone (found in most nail polish removers) to gently blot the stain.

Remember that acetone is quite a harsh chemical so be careful and use it sparingly. If there’s a part of the rug which isn’t always on show, you could test the acetone on a small section to check if there’s a colour change or the fibres look damaged after. To be extra careful, look at the percentages of acetone in various polish removers and you’ll see they vary in strength – one for damaged nails is much more likely to take it easy on your rug.

Find a white cotton cloth and dip it in the nail polish remover, rather than applying directly to the rug. Then simply blot the stain again, in the same way you did in step 1. You should find you start to see some of the spilled colour appearing on the white cloth; this is a sign of success!

When you have blotted the whole area, use a dry tea towel to blot again and soak up any of the remaining acetone/varnish which is on the carpet. By now, the situation is hopefully starting to look a lot better.

Step 4: Finish with Detergent

The final stage is to spray the stain down with a detergent – make sure it’s bleach free to avoid the risk of a colour change though. You want the detergent solution to be very weak as your rug has already had a lot of cleaning for the day to it. One way to do this is to fill your spray bottle as normal with detergent and water, then empty it out and refill with water. It sounds a bit silly but it will ensure that only a hint of it remains.

Then all you have to do is spray down the stain and dampen the whole area around it too. It’s best to leave it for a few minutes and then you do the final blotting of the rug. To do this, find another clean tea towel and just press down on the damp area of the rug. It’s important to not use anything like paper towels to blot as these can disintegrate and cause even more problems with the rug.

And it’s as simple as that! This four-step process should help to rectify all your nail polish mishaps; of course, if your stain is particularly severe then it might be worth speaking to a professional cleaning service too or even try our risk-free methods for removing stains from any rug too.


Disclaimer:  Although these tips are tried and tested, they may not remove every stain from every rug and carpet. If you are in any doubt then call up a professional carpet cleaner for advice. Rugs Direct takes no responsiibility for trying any of our ideas