How Do I Get Fingernail Polish Out of Jeans?

Fingernail polish mishaps occur frequently. Nail polish may spill or rub off onto any number of surfaces, including jeans. The mishap often leaves items stained. Owners may be tempted to throw the jeans away. There is no reason to throw away an otherwise perfectly decent pair of jeans; stain removal tips can apply to fingernail polish stains, too.

Painting fingernails with nail polish
credit: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Stain Removal

For fresh nail polish spills, wipe away excess polish. Use a plastic spoon or knife, if any are available, to scoop the polish off the jeans. Do not rub at the stain; rubbing will force the polish further into the fabric and smear it into surrounding areas of the jeans. Nail polish remover takes polish out of clothing. A non-acetone remover is less harsh on material than acetone remover is. Test an inconspicuous area of the jeans by applying a small amount to the spot and observing for any signs of damage. If there are no signs of damage, dab a cotton ball, paper towel or facial tissue with a small amount of the nail polish remover. Place a towel under the stain. Gently dab the stain, do not rub. Work in a circular motion from the outside of the stained area toward the center of the stain. Move the towel as the stain transfers onto it, keeping a clean area of the towel under the stain as much as possible. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Launder the jeans as usual. Hang the jeans to dry. If there is any doubt that the stain is gone, do not put the jeans in a dryer. The heat from the dryer will set the stain and make further stain removal attempts more difficult.

If nail polish remover does not work, try hairspray or even bug spray to assist in stain removal efforts. Place a towel under the stain, spray with clean water, then saturate the stain with hair spray. Use an old toothbrush and gently scrub the stain away. Use circular motions, working toward the center of the stain. Move the towel as the stain transfers onto it. Keep a clean area of the towel under the stain. Once the stain is gone, launder the jeans as usual.

Other available commercial products include Spray N' Wash, Goo Gone Extreme Remover, Goof Off and Off Skintastic have been known to work.