How to Get Fingernail Polish Out With Turpentine

Considering how quickly it seems to disappear from fingernails, it's amazing how "durable" nail polish is when it becomes affixed to other surfaces around your home. If you've looked around your garage and found turpentine, you've probably found a reliable removal solution. Turpentine is strong solvent that many people still use to thin oil-based paint and clean paintbrushes. Be patient as you gently work at that fingernail polish stain.

Be patient when using turpentine on nail polish stains. (Image: Barry Austin Photography/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free cloths

  • Brush

  • Breathing mask

  • Latex gloves

  • Turpentine

  • Linseed oil

  • Water

  • Bucket

Step 1

Moisten a lint-free cloth with warm water. Thoroughly wet the fingernail polish stain.

Step 2

Remove or disintegrate as much of the fingernail polish "puddle" as you can with a brush small enough to be concentrated only on the polish itself, not on the surrounding area. Old toothbrushes work well for this job.

Step 3

Open the windows or work outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Put on the breathing mask and latex gloves.

Step 4

Mix a solution of 1 cup turpentine to 1 quart of water or 3 cups linseed oil to 1 cup turpentine in a bucket.

Step 5

Apply a small amount of the turpentine mixture on another lint-free cloth. Dab it on the fingernail polish stain and rub gently. Do not apply the turpentine directly to the fingernail polish stain. Repeat, if necessary.

Step 6

Apply a small amount of straight turpentine on a lint-free cloth. Dab it on the stain if the fingernail polish remains. Take the small brush and rub the stain. Repeat, if necessary.

Step 7

Wipe the area first with cool water and a paper towel, then wash the area thoroughly with warm, soapy water.

Step 8

Nail polish accidents can occur anywhere in your home. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Let the area dry completely. Depending on what the fingernail spilled on, the surface below it might require a touch-up or repair.

Tip

Try an “odorless” variety of turpentine as you remove the polish.

Warning

Turpentine is highly toxic if swallowed, moderately toxic if absorbed through the skin and also moderately toxic if inhaled. Get medical assistance immediately if any of these incidents occur.

Turpentine vapors can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and cause dizziness, headache, coughing and chest pain, among other symptoms. If you feel light-headed from the turpentine, go immediately to a place with cool, fresh air.

Keep children away from turpentine while you work.

References & Resources