How to Get Nail Polish Off Hardwood Floors

little girl applying nail polish

When you decide that it is time for a fresh color on your nails, the last thing that you want is for your nail polish to wind up running across your beautiful hardwood floors. Unfortunately, nail polish has a tendency to drip or spill where you do not want it, and this includes your lovely flooring. You may initially panic with the assumption that the flooring is ruined, but this is not necessarily the case. There are a few approaches that you can take to remove the nail polish and to save your flooring.



  • A Word of Caution




Some of the products that are effective at removing nail polish from hardwood flooring can damage the finish on the floor. Because finishes vary across the full product line, you should always test a cleaning product on a small, discrete area before you apply it to a larger area in a more visible part of the room. If any portion of the floor’s finish is removed, you should test other methods until you find one that is safe to use on your floor.



  • Start with White Sugar

The sugar removal method may be used on all types of wood floors because it will not affect the finish. When the nail polish is wet, you may be inclined to wipe up as much of the mess as you can, but avoid doing so. Wood floors may have moderate to deep graining.


In the process of wiping away the nail polish, you can actually embed the polish deeper into the grain. A better idea is to pour an ample amount of white sugar on the spill or droplets. The sugar should completely cover the nail polish. It will accumulate with the nail polish into a congealed clump. After the clump is completely dry and hard, use a soft brush to remove the clump.



  • Use Rubbing Alcohol


The sugaring method should remove most of the nail polish, but it may not remove the nail polish stain entirely. Whether you are dealing with the remnants of polish in the grain or you did not notice the stain until the polish was dried onto the wood, you can try the rubbing alcohol method. After ensuring that the rubbing alcohol will not strip the wood’s finish, you can dab a modest amount of the rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball or a soft brush.


Gently scrub the rubbing alcohol with the grain of the wood. Blot the mess dry to see how much of the nail polish remains, and repeat this process as needed until the mess is gone. Avoid scrubbing harshly. Also, do not pour rubbing alcohol across a large surface area of the floor.



  • Try Mineral Spirits


Mineral spirits are stronger than rubbing alcohol, but they may be safer to use on the wood flooring than acetone. Apply the same cleaning instructions for the rubbing alcohol method to the mineral spirits method.



  • What to Avoid


Even the most durable hardwood floors with a thick layer of polyurethane or other topcoat material can be damaged using some of these cleaning methods. Some substances, such as acetone nail polish remover, can strip away the finish and damage the wood quickly when even a small amount of the acetone hits the wood flooring.


Other substances can be damaging when they remain on the floor for too long or when they are scrubbed into the floor. With this in mind, any effort to remove nail polish from wood flooring should be done with great care.




In most cases, nail polish can be removed from wood floors. However, the last thing that you want is to cause permanent damage in an attempt to salvage your floors. When you test these methods in an out-of-the-way area, you may discover that all methods remove the finish from the floor. Perhaps you are not confident in your ability to remove the nail polish yourself without damaging the flooring. Regardless of your concerns, you can salvage your flooring without stress or concern when you call a professional for assistance.




At Cleanzen, our experienced home cleaners deal with tough messes every day. Rest assured that we know how to handle issues like nail polish of wood floors and many other challenges. Whether you need a one-time cleaning service for a special issue like this or you want to take advantage of our maids’ efforts on a regular basis, now is a great time to contact our team and to schedule an appointment for the cleaning service you need.


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