How to clean nail polish out of carpet is probably the question I dread the most from my readers, which is why I’m just now getting to it. I’m totally confident in my ability to get most things out of carpet but nail polish is the one thing I’ve never had experience with. However after figuring out how to get nail polish off hardwood floors, I was feeling a little more confident and I thought I’d give it a try!
I decided painting nail polish on the carpet in the house wasn’t a great idea so I cut a piece from the left over carpet in the garage. Because I have white carpets I thought, “why not paint them with bright pink, professional-quality nail polish?” I painted 3 stripes and then “spilled” it on one section to really let the polish get deep into the fibers.
After letting the polish completely dry on the carpet I tested 2 of my favorite carpet cleaners: Woolite Pet + Oxygen and Oreck Stain Remover. Both took a lot of the color off but required a lot of scrubbing. I didn’t want to scrub too hard because I didn’t want to make the carpet look shaggy and worn. Next I tried De-Solv-It since it had taken a lot of the color off the wood flooring, however it’s pretty greasy so I’m not sure if I’d really want to put this on my carpet. Here are the results after testing those three products. Good, but not great.
Next I decided to try rubbing alcohol because it was the magic product that got the fingernail polish off the wood flooring. I poured a very small amount of rubbing alcohol over the spot where I had “spilled’ the polish and right away I noticed a difference. With a bit of scrubbing, with a wet rag, the rubbing alcohol took most of the color out of the carpet, however there was still some color in the deep fibers of the carpet. I sprayed it with a little Woolite Pet+Oxygen and scrubbed a little more and these were the results.
Not perfect but pretty dang good, much better than the other 3 products!
I tried adding a little more rubbing alcohol, and a bit more scrubbing but the remaining color wouldn’t budge. There were only a few carpet fibers that were still stained so I took the piece of carpet in the house and did what any OCD person would do, I cut them out. Yep, that’s right, I cut the remaining pink fibers out of the carpet. There weren’t a lot, just a few but it’s what made the difference between a slightly pink spot on my carpet and a perfectly white corner of carpet!
When I cut them out I made sure to cut each piece at a different length so that the missing pieces would still blend with the remaining fibers around the spot. I tried to cut right under where the pink stain stopped. Here are the results.
Perfect. You can’t even tell there was ever nail polish there! I’m sure many of you are thinking “I could never cut my carpet!” but to calm your fears I want to reassure you that you’ll never notice. After cutting the pieces out I ruffled the carpet with my finger and couldn’t even see where I had cut them out. If it’s not obvious on a small scrap of carpet like this one, I promise you’ll never see it in a large room.
Not that I want anyone to spill nail polish on my carpet but I will say that I feel more confident now that I know how to get it out!
I’m curious why you didn’t try acetone nail polish remover?
I didn’t have any. 🙂
Only one problem. I have berber carpet, so cutting is not an option. To be real honest I had a giant streak of red polish on my white berber years ago, and after trying everything else I did end up cutting. There is a definite “indention” now in my carpet, but I decided it looked better than the red stain… (Most people probably never notice.)
Delina Wille says
My 2 year old just spilled nail polish on the carpet a couple of days ago- I poured a bunch of nail polish remover on it but it really smeared it out. Using a baby wipe my 2 year spend the next 10 minutes cleaning it and it came out!! Amazing what a little elbow grease will do- and it was so sweet to see him cleaning up his own mess!
Annie B says
When my daughter dripped nail polish on my living room carpet, I soaked a Q-tip in acetone nail-polish remover and dabbed, dabbed, dabbed. It removed the stain completely. I would dab with the Q-tip, then blot with a clean white towel. Once it was gone, I used a fresh white towel with water to rinse out the acetone. Worked perfectly!
Amanda @ The Fun Mommy says
I’ll be trying this out tomorrow! I wonder how it will work on older stains? My three year old decided to paint his toenails last month…..I have a nice big pink spot on my carpet.
In reference to the earlier commenter, I tried acetone and it got quite a bit of the color out, but it’s still very noticeable. I’m hoping the rubbing alcohol will help fade it further!
Melissa Murray says
Most of us don’t have white carpet 🙂 Would the rubbing alcohol take color out of colored carpet?
Nope! You’re good to go, even with colored carpet. 🙂
I spilled bright red nail polish on my very light colored carpet this morning. First tried using acetone, and that made it a lot worse! After reading this I went out and bought rubbing alcohol and Woolite, and I also bought Lestoil which my mom always used on tough stains. I put rubbing alcohol and scrubbed. Then I tried the Lestoil (because I am more familiar with it, also it is cheaper). I let it sit for a few minutes, and then really scrubbed, and the stain is nearly gone. My carpets are almost white, and you can only detect the stain if you get really close and know where to look.
just used this technique (rubbing alcohol) on a dried nail polish stain. though I’m an adult, apparently I can’t paint my nails without spills…haha. And in a rental apartment? it needed to come out. and it did!! thanks!
My son broke a bottle of red nail polish and it went all over my white carpet. I used nail polish remover and my “Little Green Machine” to remove it. I saturated the spot with nail polish remover and then sucked it and the polish out with the machine. After two or three saturations and “sucking”, it all came out. I also did the same thing when my son’s dog chewed up a ball point pen and ink was all over the carpet. I used a spray spot remover (HotShot) and the “Little Green Machine” and finally got it all removed.
Barbara Eylers says
I am glad to learn about Woolite pet cleaner. All of your cleaners work so well. thank you
I have a rag rug on kitchen floor and the dishwasher leaked, got the rug wet, the dye from the fibers have stained the white vinyl floor, any ideas on how to remove? I have tried vinegar, salt, bleach, ammonia, alcohol., oops. HELP it’s a rental! yikes!
This is Monique, Anna’s assistant. Unfortunately Anna does not know a solution for this question. She is really sorry. She actually had the same thing happen to her in a previous house and she wasn’t able to get it out! If you ever figure out a solution, please email us and let us know. Anna would love to know the answer!! Sorry we could not be more help!
I used a product called “Spot Shot” to get dark purple, almost black nail polish out of my white carpet..I got the polish right after it was spilled. This product worked great.
I’ll have to check it out, thank you!
What is the best product to take the pet urine smell out of carpets? I have tried everything!
Anna has written a post on that very topic! You can find it here: https://askannamoseley.com/2012/12/how-to-remove-urine-smell-from-carpet/
Hope this helps!
-Monique (Ask Anna Assistant)
Three words. Barbasol. Shaving. Cream. I was a nail blogger (website is being Unhacked as we speak) for a long time and crushed a bottle of red under a drawer in white rental carpet. Acetone just spread it. Barbasol removed it.
Mimi Moseley says
Anna, thank you for the post on getting nail polish out of carpet. I’ve done all of the steps except the cutting. My carpet is berber and can’t be cut, and the stain is on the lip of a stair so it would be very noticeable. What do you recommend in this situation? The stain is noticeable mostly if you know it is there. Would professional carpet cleaning help?
I’m sorry, berber carpet does make it harder to clean. I think a professional carpet cleaning would definitley help and then I’d take the time to scotch guard it after it’s been cleaned, that will help prevent future stains.
I just tried to sign up for your blog, but it isn’t letting me. Says Mad Mimi is having a moment!
Haha, I guess we all need a moment every once in a while. I can sign you up if you’d like, just let me know. 🙂
Judy Snodgrass says
Hopefully, you or your readers can help.
My dogs, bless their hearts, knocked over my “Sentsy” and now I have red wax up my wall and on pale beige carpet. I have COPD and have problems breathing, so I am not into scrubbing on my knees. Any fairly easy ways to get at this. PLEASE.
Oh no, I’m sorry Judy! Here’s a post I wrote about how to get wax off of fabric but the same concept works for carpet, hard floors, clothes, etc. – https://askannamoseley.com/2014/06/how-to-remove-wax-from-fabric/. Hopefully the wax won’t have dyed your carpet, and the color will come up with the wax, but if there’s still color left, after removing the wax, let me know.