You can clean your messy nail polish stains at home without damaging your clothes.

How to Get Nail Polish out of a White T-Shirt

by Mimi Abney

Nail polish plays an important role in some women’s weekly primping and pampering rituals. If you are prone to spills, and get the sticky and smelly nail polish on your favorite white T-shirt, there is no need to panic. In spite of the beauty mishap, the stubborn nail polish stain does not have to ruin the fabric permanently. Using a few expert cleaning tips, you can remove the polish from your go-to white top easily and quickly.

Place two or three paper towels down on a flat surface. Turn the T-shirt inside out. Lay it flat on the table or countertop.

Dip the edge of a clean cotton cloth or paper towel into acetone or acetone-based nail polish remover. Press the cleaning solvent into the stain.

Rinse the stain with a clean cloth dipped into cold water. Dab the damp towel into the soiled area to clean. Repeat dabbing the nail polish remover and the cold water into the T-shirt until you remove the stain completely.

Pour a liquid pre-treating product on the stained area. Allow the pre-treating product to stay on the T-shirt for 15 to 20 minutes. Launder as usual using a heavy-duty detergent, a warm water wash and a cool rinse cycle.

Hang the T-shirt on a padded hanger to dry. Do not tumble in a hot dryer. If any tiny nail polish particles remain, the dryer’s heat will set the stain.

Items you will need

  • Paper towels
  • Acetone or acetone-based nail polish remover
  • Clean cotton cloth
  • Liquid pre-treating product
  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Spray bottle
  • Padded hanger


  • If the nail polish residue remains after you’ve washed the garment, mix 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide with a 1/2 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spritz the solution on the stain. Hang the T-shirt outdoors to line dry in the sun. The rays of the sun act as a natural bleaching agent to lift the stain from the shirt.


  • If your white T-shirt has synthetic fibers such as acetate or polyester, do not use the acetone or the nail polish remover to remove the stain. Take the shirt to the dry-cleaners instead. The chemical solvent will damage the fabric permanently.


About the Author

Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images