How to Remove Varnish From Skin

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If you are applying wood varnish to a house project or applying varnish to your nails, things can get messy when you're using an oil-based product. While traditional varnish used to be made from resin, today most varnish is polyurethane. It is used to provide a hard, protective coating over paint or stain. A commercial varnish is also applied to nails. If you get varnish on your skin during your project, don't despair when soap and water won't remove the sticky substance. Solve the problem quickly by using products found in your pantry or at the hardware store.

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Remove Oil-Based Varnish With Pantry Supplies

Things You'll Need

  • Creamy peanut butter

  • Wash cloth

  • Mild dish detergent

  • Warm water

Step 1

Dip the corner of a washcloth into the peanut butter and scoop out enough to cover the varnish on your skin. The oil of the peanut butter will help remove the sticky substance.

Step 2

Dab peanut butter onto the varnish and gently rub. The oil in the spread will remove varnish and also sooth your skin. Continue rubbing until the varnish has been removed.

Step 3

Squirt a small amount of mild dish detergent directly onto the affected skin. Work the detergent into the peanut butter with your fingers until suds form. Place the area under warm, running water and rinse the skin until it's clean.

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If peanut butter isn't in your pantry, try substituting vinegar or cooking oil. Dish detergent is recommended because it cuts through grease and oil effectively.

Warning

Don't use this method if the person is allergic to nuts. It can cause a serious allergic reaction in sensitive patients requiring urgent medical care.

Commercial Products to Remove Oil-Based Varnish

Things You'll Need

  • Paint thinner

  • Clean rag

  • Mild dish detergent

  • Warm, running water

Step 1

Open the can of paint thinner in a well-ventilated area due to its strong odor. Place the rag on the opening of the container. Tip the container to apply solution to the rag.

Warning

Paint thinner can contain one of several toxic chemicals that can damage lungs and airways. Prolonged contact with the skin can cause burns, making it crucial to remove the solution quickly.

Step 2

Using light pressure, stoke the affected skin with the paint thinner. It will dissolve the varnish effectively and quickly.

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Step 3

Pour a small amount of dish detergent onto the treated area. Rub the soap with your fingers until you see the varnish dissolving. This might take a minute or two.

Step 4

Place the soapy skin under warm, running water. Continue rubbing with your fingers to produce suds. Rinse the paint thinner and soap from the skin thoroughly.

Tip

Substitute turpenoid, which is an odorless substitute for turpentine. If you prefer, use mineral spirits or denatured alcohol.

Warning

Turpentine has a strong odor. Use it a well-ventilated area.

Nail Polish Varnish

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial nail polish remover

  • Cotton swabs

  • Mild dish detergent

  • Warm, running water

Step 1

Open the bottle of nail polish remover. Insert the cotton swab into the bottle and saturate it. The swab, however, shouldn't be dripping with the solution.

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Step 2

Swab the varnish with the soaked cotton swab. See how quickly the varnish dissolves.

Warning

Some nail polish removers contain acetone, which has a strong odor. Apply it in a well-ventilated area. Other removers don't contain acetone, so read the label carefully.

Step 3

Place a small amount of dish detergent onto the treated skin. Using your fingers, rub the soap into the acetone. This will dissolve the remover and varnish.

Step 4

Rinse the skin under warm, running water. Create soapy suds by rubbing it with your fingers.

Tip

  • Regardless of which method you use to remove oil-based varnish from skin, condition skin with a moisturizer after cleansing it. This will help rehydrate and sooth irritation that might have resulted from the chemicals and soap.
  • Remove water-based varnish from your skin with soap and water. Choose this type of varnish for your project if you want easy cleanup.

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references

Mary Love

In 1982, Mary Love's first book, "Shakespeare Garden," was published. She also authored professional brochures. Love was the subject of a PBS special profiling Northwestern Pennsylvania artists, highlighting her botanicals and birds. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in art education from Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.