How to Remove Nail Varnish From Cotton Clothing

Updated April 17, 2017

There's nothing worse than getting nail polish on your cotton clothing. You feel like you're doomed, especially if it's on white clothes. But you don't throw out your clothing just yet. There is a simple way to get rid of that dreaded nail polish stain. It may seem obvious, but acetone will take the stain out. After all, it removes the nail polish from your fingers. Plus, it's safe to use on cotton, including cotton clothing. Just follow these tips and to effectively remove the stain. This may help you now or the next time it happens.

Scrape some of the nail polish stain off with a butter knife or scraper. This helps get rid of any excess nail polish, which will make the removal easier. If the nail polish is still wet, blot the stain with rags or paper towels.

Read the tag on your clothing. Make sure that your cotton clothing doesn't contain triacetate or acetate. Using nail polish on this type of clothing will cause it to dissolve.

Test the spot with a drop of nail polish remover. Observe it for any colour changes. If there are no changes, then continue using the nail polish remover.

Dampen an old rag with nail polish remover. Wipe the stain with the rag gently. Don't rub it in; this will set the stain.

Place an absorbent pad underneath your clothing. This way you can let the acetone soak through the stain on your clothes. A white pad would be best. Continue doing this until you don't see any more colour.

Wait for the nail polish remover to completely dry. Once it's dry, wash your clothes twice in the washer with bleach-free detergent. Use a stain remover if there's still a stain.


Use hairspray as a stain remover if you don't have any stain removal products in your home.


Remove the stain in a well-ventilated area. If not, you're likely to inhale the nail polish, which will make you light headed and nauseous.

Things You'll Need

  • Scraper or butter knife
  • Old rags
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Absorbent pads
  • Stain remover
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About the Author

Based in Massachusetts, Chanel Adams has been writing since 2009. Her work has been published by the "Lowell Sun,", Coed Media and other print and online publications. She has knowledge in fashion, careers, health, education, computers and electronics. Adams has an Associate of Science in administrative medical assisting from San Joaquin Valley College.