Close up of bright red nail polish on light colored carpet

Unfortunately I discovered how to get fingernail polish out of carpet the hard way. My polish spilled on light-colored carpet. So I did a lot of research — and found plenty of information out there, but here’s the thing: There’s lots of how-tos that don’t actually work, so it took a lot of trial and error to get the job done. The upside, I’m here to tell you what doesn’t work and what does work. Here’s what you need to know about how to get fingernail polish out of carpet.

What doesn’t work:

  • Treating the stain immediately before it dries. (A lot of tutorials on how to get fingernail polish out of carpet advise this methodology, but it just made the stain worse for me.)
  • Don’t rub the stain.
  • Don’t use nail polish remover on dark carpet.

What worked best for me:

  • First, let the stain dry.
  • Using a putty knife or similar tool, try to chip off as much of the dried polish as possible.
  • Wet the stain with cold water.
  • If your carpet is dark, spray hairspray on the stain.
  • Next (still for dark carpet) dab a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a white cloth or rag and blot the stain. Repeat until it is gone. Remember: blot, don’t rub!
  • If you have light colored carpet, put an acetone or non-acetone nail polish remover on a white rag or cloth (after wetting stain with cold water) and then blot. Repeat until stain is gone.

I hope that works for you if you find yourself dealing with a nail polish stain on your carpet. And next time, maybe keep it in the bathroom.