How to Remove Nail Polish from a Painted Wall


Sandra asked: Is there a way to clean nail polish off a wall without ruining the paint? I have tried 409, bleach, magic erasers and nail polish remover. None of them have worked!

Nail polish on a wall is essentially paint on top of paint. It is difficult to remove because you’re trying to remove just one layer of the paint. It can be removed, but will take some time and scrubbing. Surprisingly, nail polish remover is not the answer in this case. It will only make the problem worse by smudging the polish and removing the paint. Here’s what to do.

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloths
  • Scrubbing sponges
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Bucket

Steps to Remove the Nail Polish:

  1. Begin by moistening the rough, scrubby side of the sponge with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Scrub the nail polish. Be careful not to scrub the paint around it too much.
  3. Apply more rubbing alcohol as needed.
  4. Continue scrubbing until all of the nail polish is removed.
  5. When the area is free of nail polish, it can be washed to remove any residue.
  6. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of soap.
  7. Moisten a soft cloth with the soapy water.
  8. Wipe down the area.
  9. Rinse with clean water.
  10. Allow the area to dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers can remove all kinds of stains from many surfaces without causing any damage or removing the paint. Simply moisten the sponge and rub it over the area. Nail polish tends to apply thickly though, so it may take a while to get through it.
  • If the nail polish cannot be removed, the area can always be painted over to hide the accident.
  • Acetone can also be used, although it is the same ingredient used in nail polish remover, to wipe away nail polish without removing the paint. Others have also recommended turpentine. We recommend you test both of these on a hidden area first to ensure that it does not damage the painted surface.


  1. Cecilia says:

    I just came back from school and I have nail polish on my bedroom wall, and I am really upset because I don’t know how to clear it up?

  2. Hope this comes through for you!

  3. Ashleigh says:

    Hi, I just tried this because I accidentally spilled pink nail polish all over the wall in my dining room. The wall is painted a tannish brown color and this stripped my wall to white. Is there anything else I can try. I still have nail polish on the wall because I only tried this in one spot, and it didn’t even take the nail polish off, just the paint. :-(

  4. Katherine says:

    Okay, this did not work at all for me. It only took off the paint on my wall. It was glittery nail polish, so it left black and silver sequin things all over the wall. I don’t know what else to do. :(

  5. Katherine,
    I know what you mean about those sparkles – I usually can’t even get them off my nails with remover; I have to scrape the polish off. The How to Remove Construction Glue from Walls article mentions using a razor blade or straight edge to scrape the glue off the walls (step 5), so you could try to do the same for the sequin things.

  6. Hey, I spilt nail polish on my wall so I tried your advice, but it didn’t work as much as the nail polish remover I have. It has vitamin E in it so if alcohol doesn’t work then use nail polish remover with vitamin E.

  7. Do not try this; it will strip your wall of its paint. Try 100% acetone instead. The paint will come off just a little bit, but it will not be noticeable. And wipe it with a cloth to smooth out the wetness.

  8. Rubbing alcohol does not work. It stripped all of the paint off the wall and left a huge mess. Don’t try this.

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