How to Remove Nail Polish from Leather Upholstery


Brenda asked: How do I get nail polish off my leather furniture? While painting my nails, I dropped my nail polish brush. It landed on my dark, brown leather recliner. The nail polish color is a light, pearl pink. I tried to wipe it up right away, but it didn’t come up. Thanks for your help.

Whether it’s a small bump or an entire bottle spilled, removing nail polish from leather can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, with a few simple items, the nail polish can be removed in no time. The best part is, the leather will not be damaged in the process.

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Nail Polish:

  1. Moisten a cotton swab with non-acetone nail polish remover.
  2. Use the cotton swab to carefully wipe the polish away.
  3. When all of the polish is removed, clean the leather as usual.
  4. If the leather is dry, apply a leather conditioner.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Some colors may be affected by nail polish removers. Test a small hidden area first to ensure no color is removed from the leather upholstery.


  1. What if the non-acetone polish remover takes the color from the leather?

  2. How do you remove chewing gum from leather car seats?

  3. That’s what happened to my brown leather couch when I used nail polish remover too. Any suggestions?

  4. Susan,
    Fill a sandwich bag with ice, place the ice pack on the gum and allow the gum to freeze or rub the gum with an ice cube until frozen. Once frozen, scrape off the gum carefully so as not to damage the leather. You can use tape or a toothbrush to remove any remaining bits of gum, and then wipe the leather clean with a mild dish soap and water mixture.

    Source: wikiHow – How to remove Chewing Gum from a Car Seat
    Source: – How to Remove Gum

  5. Kathy,
    It may have been the acetone in the nail polish remover that removed the dye (color) from your couch. Try using diluted liquid dish soap to scrub out the stain. You could also make a homemade leather cleaner and conditioner; a 1:2 mix of white vinegar and linseed oil or olive oil. If the stain can not be cleaned, you may need to dye the spots.

    Source: Good Housekeeping – Stain Buster – Nail-Polish Remover
    Source: eHow – How to Repair an Acetone Stain on Leather
    Source: Do It Yourself – How to Remove Nail Polish Stains from Leather
    Source: Fibrenew – Debunking Myths: Frequently recommended leather remedies that ruin leather
    Source: National Geographic – How to Make Natural Upholstery Cleaner

  6. HELP!!!
    I spilled red nail polish on my mom’s black leather sofa.
    I cleaned it up right after, but it still looks somewhat red. I spilled it three days ago and no one has seen it yet. Please someone help me! I have tried everything!
    P.S. I don’t have any leather conditioner.

  7. Liliana,
    When you say that you have tried everything, I’m guessing that means that you already tried non-acetone nail polish remover on a cotton ball and scrubbing with dish soap and water. You could try using an artgum eraser. You may need to try something harsher, such as rubbing alcohol or acetone nail polish remover. Definitely test these on a hidden area of the couch first and use as little as possible when cleaning the stain. You can make a leather cleaner and conditioner by mixing 1:2 white vinegar and olive oil, which will assist with repairing any damage or dryness caused by the alcohol or acetone. As a last resort, you can attempt to cover the stain with leather dye. Be sure to use the dye for upholstery leather and not shoe leather, as they are different. I would make the same recommendations to your mom.

    Source: HowStuffWorks – How to Remove Nail Polish Stains
    Source: Do It Yourself – How to Remove Nail Polish Stains from Leather
    Source: National Geographic – How to Make Natural Upholstery Cleaner

  8. Thanks; you saved my brown leather suite. Did it right away.

  9. Non-acetone worked like a treat on the black leather seat of my car! Thank you SO much!

  10. Ok, so I tried a small part on the back of the couch with the non-acetone nail polish remover and it discolored leather. Anything else I can use to get off the nail polish?

  11. Keith,
    The How to Remove Nail Polish from Carpet article recommends trying hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. The peroxide is more likely to stain the leather than the alcohol.
    WikiHow says that spray deodorant and body spray can be used to remove nail polish from nails. For those, you would want to choose one that is free of leather damaging ingredients, such as silicone, waxes, any alkaline products, etc.
    Another idea is to paint the nail polish with a clear top coat and then wipe away all the polish (the top coat could soften/liquefy the old polish briefly).
    Both articles also mention hair spray, likely due to the alcohol content.
    You could also try peeling/picking off the nail polish or rubbing the dried polish with an artgum eraser.

    Source: wikiHow – How to Remove Nail Polish Without Using Remover
    Source: wikiHow – How to Remove Nail Polish from Leather
    Source: – How to Clean Leather Upholstery
    Source: HowStuffWorks – How to Remove Nail Polish Stains

  12. Thank you! I did this very carefully on my dark leather lounge, and it worked! Hurray!

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