How To Remove Nail Polish From Car Paint? (Helpful Tips)

The ideal method you can use to remove nail polish from car paint will depend on how big the stains are and how long they have been there.

If you have just noticed some nail polish drips on your car paint, your first instinct will be to touch it. This will give you a feel of how long it has been there.

Even though you may be tempted to scratch it off with your fingernails, we would advise against doing that as you may chip off some paint in the process.

There are several ways on how you can remove nail polish from car paint. We are going to list all of them and explain which is best, its pros and the cons.

how to remove nail polish from car paint

1. Nail Polish Remover

What’s better than nail polish remover if you want to remove nail polish drips on your car? However, before you head to your or your wife’s makeup cabinet and grab some nail polish remover, you need to read the following.

Nail polish removers comprise methyl ethyl ketone and isopropyl acetone as the main ingredients.

These solvents are very corrosive and will eat through your car’s clear coat if not handled with care. Despite being very effective at removing nail polish from car paint, these removers can damage the paint in the process.

So, should I use nail polish remover? Only if you are willing to risk removal of the clear coat. We recommend the use of nail polish remover on small stains of nail polish on car paint.

And if you do use it, soak some in a microfiber cloth. Press the cloth on the stain for a minute or two before wiping it off. Don’t let nail polish remover run on car paint or sit for too long as it will damage it.

2. Acetone

Being one of the main ingredients found in nail polish remover, acetone is a very strong solvent. It immediately gets rid of nail polish stains but you ought to be very cautious with it.

For a fact, acetone will eat through the car’s clear coat. And if you are not careful, it will remove some paint as well.

If you intend to use acetone, we recommend that you use the procedure listed above. And if it is possible, perform a spot test first and note the effects.

3. Scratch Remover

According to the experiences of some DIY car owners, scratch removers can also remove nail polish.

These work in the same manner as rubbing compounds only that they are not as abrasive and require less elbow grease. You can find a scratch remover at your nearest auto store.

4. Rubbing Compound

A rubbing compound also does a great job at removing nail polish from car paint. The problem is that rubbing compounds need a lot of time and dedication.

The abrasive material in the rubbing compound removes the nail polish from the car paint. You should polish the car once you are done.

5. Claying

Are you looking for the safest way on how you can remove nail polish from car paint? A clay bar is the safest bet. Claying a car can be tiresome but it will remove all impurities that bond to the surface of your paint.

In this case, if you have got nail polish stains on some parts, you will have to clay bar the entire car to get a more uniform look. Claying is a lengthy process, therefore set aside some time for this detailing job.

Above we have listed some of the best ways on how to remove nail polish from car paint. We have started with the methods that work in a short time frame to the more time-consuming methods such as claying.

You will have to decide to either choose risk over time. Because the likes of acetone will get the job done much faster but there is a risk of damaging the clear coat and paint.

Don’t forget that you can always hire a professional to remove the nail polish for you.

They too will use the above methods but because they have more experience and use advanced tools, the final results will be pleasant and your car paint won’t be damaged in the process.

Should I Tip Nail Polish from Car Paint Using My Fingers?

When you touch nail polish that has hardened on car paint, it should feel very soft and easy to chip off using fingers. You can definitely chip or scratch it off with your fingernails but this should only be done on small stains.

On large drips of nail polish on car paint, when you scratch it off it will leave a huge mess behind. In this case, refer to either of the above methods.

Can I Use Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover?

For those of you who may be afraid of using acetone or a nail polish remover that contains acetone, you may be wondering whether it’s okay to use a non-acetone nail polish remover.

Acetone-free nail polish removers are made using ethyl acetate which is a solvent that is derived from ethanol.

Other than chemical composition, when it comes to the effect of using both acetone and acetone-free nail polish removers, the impact is almost the same.

These nail polish removers will eat through car clear coat and paint. That’s why you have to soak it on a microfiber cloth and hold it against the nail polish stain till it is completely removed.

Will a Car Wash Shampoo Remove Nail Polish from Car Paint?

If the nail polish paint is fresh then we would recommend a simple car wash. However, if the nail polish has hardened on the paint, then you will need something stronger than that such as a clay bar.

Car wash shampoo is only capable of getting rid of surface dirt. However, it isn’t strong enough to remove nail polish.

Using warm water can help soften the polish and make it easier to remove. But the chances of succeeding when using this method are very low.

Can Sandpaper Remove Nail Polish from Car Paint?

If you care about your car paint, keep sandpaper away from it no matter how fine it is. Sanding of car paint should only be involved when you are giving the car a new paint job.

However, if that’s not the case then don’t use it as it will remove the nail polish, paint, and clear coat in one go.

What about Kerosene, Vinegar, and Rubbing Alcohol?

For years, kerosene is a popular solvent. A lot of car owners have used it to remove tree sap residue, but can it be used on nail polish?

Kerosene will dissolve the nail polish but what we don’t like about this solvent is that it eats through the clear coat and leaves behind a dull stain that will have to be washed thoroughly or even buffed so that it can be removed completely.

We don’t recommend it as an appropriate method of removing nail polish from car paint.

Vinegar on the other hand is a great cleaning agent, the problem is that when used at full strength, it will leave etch spots on the car paint.

If you must use vinegar, dilute it with water. Regarding alcohol, we would advise you to keep off it because it becomes a little bit ineffective when diluted with water.

And when used at full strength, it will eat through the clear coat and paint. Before we can move on to another product you can use to remove nail polish from car paint, also avoid paint thinners and mineral spirits.

These two are as strong as rubbing alcohol and will eat through the clear coat and leave etch spots. We are not even going to talk about bleach as it is far much worse than the above. Brake fluid also belongs in this category.

Using WD-40 to Remove Nail Polish from Car Paint

WD-40 can remove tree sap, tar, and even adhesive residue. It is also strong enough to remove nail polish on car paint.

Unlike acetone, WD-40 is considered safe to use on car paint. And if you have got some in your home, feel free to use it to remove nail polish drips or stains.