How to Clean Nail Polish off Wood Flooring

I get asked questions about how to clean nail polish off of things all the time!  I have gathered the questions and I thought I’d try to tackle the a few of the most commonly asked questions, starting with hardwood & laminate floors.

Question:  I am wondering if you know of any way to get nail polish off laminate flooring? My twins decided one day to dump a bottle on the floor and smear it around. I found it pretty quickly, but it dries so quickly that it is just a big mess. I have to cover it with a rug. I have tried a few things and asked many many people but no one has any ideas. I am thinking we may just have to replace the floor. I thought there is no harm in asking you.

Answer:  I can honestly say that I’ve never had this problem before, I’ve had someone spill nail polish on my tile floor, but never my wood flooring.  So I started by doing a little “Googling” and came across this forum that gave me a couple ideas, then I set out testing my theories.

In order to test the theories first I had to “spill” some nail polish.  As much as I believe in what I do, I didn’t think my husband would appreciate me painting nail polish on our floors so I grabbed a piece of our leftover flooring and painted that.  I painted 3 separate spots because I wanted to try out three different ideas.

Armed with these cleaning products I set out to find the answer to this reader’s question.

#1: De-Solv-It

De-Solv-It is great for cleaning up all kinds of messes so I figured, why not try it on nail polish?  I sprayed the De-Solv-It on the nail polish and let it set for a few minutes.  Then, using a piece of felt, I attempted to scrub off the color.  I was actually surprised that a little color came off and thought, this must be the answer!  However after a few more minutes of scrubbing (and I mean really scrubbing) I gave up because the polish wasn’t really coming off.  I managed to get some of the color off but it was not a complete success.

Just for kicks I also tried the WD-40 on this same spot because it is also a greasy product, but I had no luck.  Trial #1= fail.

#2: Hydrogen Peroxide

Next I tried hydrogen peroxide.  Online I had read that a 50/50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide would work but I really hate to dilute a good thing so I thought I’d try the full strength hydrogen peroxide, and then if I worked then I would try diluting it.

First I soaked a piece of felt in the peroxide and let it sit on the nail polish for a couple minutes.  Then I scrubbed… and scrubbed… and scrubbed.

The hydrogen peroxide didn’t even touch the nail polish stain, after a couple minutes of scrubbing this is all the color it took off!  Trial #2= epic fail. 

#3: Rubbing alcohol

At this point I was beginning to think I ‘d have to write a post and say, “The answer to getting nail polish off wood flooring is… still unknown!”  But I had one more thing to try, the rubbing alcohol.

First I soaked a piece of felt in rubbing alcohol and laid it over the polish stain, just as I had done with the hydrogen peroxide.  After a couple minutes I began scrubbing and something magical happened, the polish came right off!  I barely even had to scrub and the polish came right off!!! 

I was able to get up all of the polish without even really “scrubbing” and the best part is that rubbing alcohol is also great for cleaning and sterilizing so now the wood flooring is probably cleaner than it was before!

So the answer to getting nail polish spills of hardwood and laminate flooring is: Rubbing alcohol!

About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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  1. Caitlin Read says:

    Did the rubbing alcohol take the shine/polish/lacquer off of the flooring?

    • I don’t have a shine on my floor but it shouldn’t. If you have real hardwood floors and it takes the wax layer off it would be easy to just re-wax that spot. 🙂

    • The answer is yes. It will take the finish off. Just happened when I used the rubbing alcohol.

  2. Love it! Rubbing Alcohol has saved me a number of times with permanent marker but I’ve never tried it on nail polish 🙂

  3. Anne Marie says:

    This is great to know – I would never have guessed rubbing alcohol.

  4. Deb Muth says:

    Great investigative work !!! I wanted to ask, though, if the rubbing alcohol removed any coloring of the flooring?. Your picture makes me think that the alcohol may have worked a little too well. Was that a problem?

    • Nope, not at all! I did the rubbing alcohol last so what you see it all the grease and grime from my other trials! The rubbing alcohol left it perfect and clean! 🙂

  5. what about goof-off. I cleaned dried on oil paint out of brushes with this. I am just wondering.

    • Goof-Off and De-solve-it are basically the same thing. It took the color off but it was a lot of scrubbing to get just some of the color off.

  6. can you use any rubbing alcohol?
    does it make any damedges?

  7. Brittany Kelley says:

    Dear Anna- Thank the lord above for your website and post on how to get nail polish off laminate wood flooring! I have tried EVERYTHING to remove some spilled nail polish (note: do not try to paint your nails after a few glasses of wine!). Nothing could get this darn nail polish off, and my boyfriend mentioned it EVERY DAY. Finally, I tried your rubbing alcohol remedy and BOOM, GONE!! Thank you thank you thank you. As a tip, be sure to use a scrubbing brush or tool, this worked wonders when used with the rubbing alcohol!

    • Awesome!!! I’m so glad I could help! That’s good advice, I won’t try to paint my nails after wine. 🙂

  8. Thanks!! I had gotten BLACK nail polish on my bedroom dresser. My dresser is very dark so it’s not easily noticed, but still. I lost hope. Then I found your site and tried the rubbing alcohol. It worked!! And to answer peoples questions about the finish; maybe try in a place on your furniture that wont be noticed to see what happens. My finish DID get dulled but it didnt come off completely, in fact I just used some furniture polish on the dulled area and it was almost as though the nail polish accident had never happened! Thanks!

  9. I LOVE YOU!!

  10. Cecilia says:

    At last!! Thank you so much!! I was desperate since my cat throw to the floor my make up bag with lots of nail polish in it and one broke and spill all over the wooden floor, I’ve tried different stuff and nothing worked, but this was simple and effective. The only thing I had to rubbed a little since it was a big stain!
    Thanks a lot!

  11. Katherine Mundt says:

    I spilled top coat all over my floor and I haven’t told my parents yet because they are going to kill me! I don’t know how long it’s been there because I found the bottle open on the floor and my chapped stick was stuck to the floor. I tried getting it off with running alcohol but nothing has happened! Should I try again? I used paper towels to try to scrub it so should I use something slightly rougher?

  12. I know this post is almost a year old, but it saved me today! My absolutely wonderful two year old little boy dropped a brand new bottle of glittery nail polish on our kitchen floor today, and I was contemplating how much it would cost to replace about 8 planks of flooring when I came across your post. I had already tried all-purpose cleaner, WD-40, and scraping up what I could with a (gasp) butter knife. While it didn’t get everything that was in the grain, it’s about 90% better and I plan on doing one more pass later today. I plan on posting about this little “adventure” on my blog soon, and will definitely link back. Thanks again!

  13. anna hudson says:

    hey do you know how to get stained hairdye off walls and white tile floor? thank you

  14. Oh my. Just tried this on my antique wood floors and it took all the finish off as well as some of the stain :\ Just a word of warning to anyone out there with older flooring. Now I have to figure out how to fix this without letting the hubs know!

  15. We just tried your rubbing alcohol method to clean up a bottle of nail polish that had spilled on my daughter’s laminate floor. I don’t know if different nail polishes contain different ingredients, but this method didn’t do anything. Not a speck of it came off. Going to try polish remover now. Wish us luck!

  16. Thanks so much for this!!! It works Great!!

  17. Hi anna,

    Firstly what a great post!! I am having real drama getting off plaster from laminate floor? it looks clean then dries cloudy white? any ideas please?

  18. It wont get the glitter up though

  19. 100% acetone also gets finger nail polish off laminate wood flooring

  20. I tryed this on the floor in my daughters room and it did not remove any of the nail polish but then again those stains have been there atleast for 6 months i have yet to find anything that will get it up

  21. Just tried this and thought I had hit pay-dirt. It was bringing it up slowly then all of a sudden the entire finish of the hardwood including stain came off in one rub. I think that the alcohol softened it all up.. I think the nail polish was a better look.

  22. I tried this but it took forever to get off. After an hour and a half of scrubbing off my entire bottle of nail polish off of the hardwood floor and wood table, I switched the Goof Off. All came off in 10 minutes. Definitely recommend that instead.

  23. S Godbold says:

    We tried all of the above and none of them worked. My husband finally tried using Bug and Tar remover for use on auto. (It is made so as not to harm the clear coat on autos so we figured it would not harm the finish on our hardwood floor). After spraying the foam on the nail polish and letting it set for and hour the polish came right off!

  24. Thank you for telling me that alcohol is the ansewer i am so happy that my mom do not have to pay to get it up

  25. What brand of rubbing alcohol did you use? I tried Isocol and it isn’t working

    • Hey Chelsea,
      this is Monique, Anna’s assistant. It looks like she just used the up and up brand which is Target’s off brand!It is 91% too! Hope this helps!

  26. I Tried the rubbing alcohol. It ruined my wood furniture. Had to sand and stain.

  27. Just got through cleaning up a nail polish spill on my beautiful satin finish hardwood floors with the rubbing alcohol as you suggested. It was amazing, cleaned up like a dream and did not hurt the satin finish one little bit! I am so relieved….thank you so much for doing the research !

  28. I tried the Rubbing Alcohol, but it was 70% & it did not work. I am going to buy 90% & see if the strength makes the difference.

  29. Jenna Rickard says:

    Hey Im Jenna, and I let my ex bff come over and she spilt all my nail polish on the floor. And broke my glasses. So I told her to look it up and she did and we found you can also use conditioner but it takes like five minutes. So then I did another search the bight after when she spent the night again and spilt it, and it said to use nail polish remover and paper towels, it didnt work. So then I JUST dound your sight and found the alcohol thing and Im about to tryit wish me luck!

  30. Just did this on my hard wood floor after a whole bottle of nail polish fell on the floor and broke! It worked great!!! Nothing happened to the floor! Thank you so much!

  31. Rubbing alcohol will also completely remove fresh ballpoint ink. I was on a plane flight a few years ago and my ballpoint pen got a blob of ink on the cuff of my oxford cloth shirt 🙁 The only solvent I had with me were Purell alcohol hand-wipes, so I tried one and with a couple of minutes’ blotting and scrubbing with it, the ink was *gone*! I was amazed.

  32. I just about freaked out when I saw a big circle of bring red nail polish on my hardwood floor! I ran to the computer & searched for a way to remove it. I stumbled on your page and Ta Da! Rubbing alcohol removed the polish without harming the floors in minutes. Thank you!

  33. Amanda Savage says:

    Thank you! I just had a panic attack when my daughter dripped black nail polish on my wood floor! I never would have thought of rubbing alcohol.

  34. I also tried rubbing alcohol but I’m prett . Impatient and didn’t want to scrub so I thought of the trick we All used when we were young and I got some clear polish painted the spilt red polish on my floor and wiped it right up after I got all red up I mopped with Lysol and bam no sign at all that my two year old daughter slung red polish all over my new hardwoo . Hope this helps some one

  35. Abby Troutman says:

    No offense, but I tried it and nothing came off at all! I used nail polish remover and it worked really well!

  36. Stephanie says:

    Just used the rubbing alcohol! Thanks so much! (My almost 4yo son tried to paint his nails while in time out!)

  37. Thank you!!!

  38. My daughter was painting her nails and splattered pink polish on the my salons laminate flooring… Eeek. Found this site and decided to use a little hairspray & a sponge. Davines’ More Inside product, ‘This is a
    Strong HairSpray’. Has extra moisturizing factor. Worked great and quick! #donewithdavines #styleslanger

  39. Christine Coltman says:

    I really did’nt know where to turn when I saw the Nail viarnishw. ooden floor. I knew Acetone was a no no, bbut what else?………Then I googled it and now I have the answer. ” rubbing alcohol”. Thankyou Anna for you’re time and hard work in the making of this web page.

  40. I used Coconut Oil and a soft rag. Worked with little effort and no damage to the floors. BONUS: Beautiful shiny floors.

  41. how can I take nail polish glitter off of hardwood floor?

    • Bethany Davis says:

      Hi Deirdre! I’m Anna’s assistant, Bethany. I sent you an e-mail with the answer to your question, so be on the look out for it. 🙂

      • Missy bonaguide says:

        Hi! Could I get the answer regarding glitter nail polish off hardwood floors? I’m heartbroken over my daughter’s spill!

      • Bethany Davis says:

        Hi, Missy! I sent you an e-mail. Hope this helps! -Bethany 🙂

  42. Help