When your nail polish chips or that cherry-red shade isn’t quite right, a cotton ball soaked with nail polish remover can give you a clean slate. But did you know that the primary ingredient in most nail polish removers can dissolve scuffs, stains, and patches of grime? If your nail polish remover contains acetone, congrats! You have a versatile household solvent at your fingertips.
Most of us have this medicine cabinet staple on hand for DIY manicures, but its uses aren’t solely cosmetic. (Just make sure it’s not the acetone-free type.)
Whether you’re looking to tackle recent buildup or a blemish that’s been staring you in the face for years, that bottle of nail polish remover might be the boon you’ve been looking for.
As with any cleaning agent, it’s important to use acetone carefully. Be sure to use it only in well-ventilated areas and nowhere near an open flame or a heat source, as it’s flammable. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when using acetone, because this chemical can be harsh on skin.
Here are a few ways nail polish remover can help spiff up your home.
1. Clean your bathtub or sink
With frequent use, bathtubs and sinks can get grimy pretty quick. When your usual cleaning spray doesn’t get the job done, give nail polish remover with acetone a try.
“You can dampen a rag with nail polish remover and apply it to spots or stains on the bathtub or sink,” says Jenny Heumann Godes, a spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council. “Allow it to dry for a minute and see if the spot is lightening, and reapply as needed.”
2. Remove stains from coffee mugs and teacups
Have you been contemplating tossing out your favorite mug because it’s stained on the inside? You can revive it!
To remove those ugly brown coffee or tea stains, use at least a teaspoon of nail polish remover and start rubbing the stains away. Your cherished mug should be as good as new. Just remember to wash it in the dishwasher or with hot water and soap before drinking from it.
3. Remove paint from windows
Painting around a window takes steady hands and practice. But even when you apply painter’s tape around a window, sometimes mistakes happen.
“Applying a small amount of nail polish remover with acetone to errant strokes of paint can help dissolve it,” says Heumann Godes.
When cleaning paint off windows, Ken Fisk, director of technical services at Window Genie, says to use nail polish remover sparingly, because it can damage other surfaces.
Apply a small amount of nail polish remover to a rag, and use it to remove excess paint.
4. Remove scuffs on tile or laminate flooring
You may have a beautiful tile floor—that’s marred by one scuff that breaks the uniformity of the whole look. Consider using one part nail polish remover to three parts water to remove the marks.
“Put some nail polish remover on a cloth and rub it in to remove scuff marks from floors. Wash the floor with warm, soapy water afterward to remove any residue,” says Heumann Godes.
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for your flooring before using DIY cleaners on it.
5. Remove stubborn stickers from glass and metal
It’s not just kids who like to put stickers on everything. Sometimes newly purchased everyday items come with adhesive price tags on the bottom that just won’t budge. That’s where nail polish remover comes in.
“You can use nail polish remover to remove stickers and adhesives from glass and metal,” says Fisk.
Apply a small amount of nail polish remover on a clean, dry cloth or paper towel, and wipe away the sticker.
6. Dissolve superglue
Too many DIY projects? We’ve all been there. If you got a little glue-happy or made a few oopsies on your project, no worries. Nail polish remover is tough enough to take on even strong adhesives like superglue.
But nail polish remover shouldn’t be used on all surfaces or materials. Heumann Godes says it can remove superglue from fabric, but it may discolor the fabric. It can also remove superglue from counters and surfaces, but may harm the varnish on wood or discolor the counter material.
7. Get rid of marker and ink stains
Permanent market is especially hard to remove, but nail polish remover can do the trick.
“Soaking a cotton ball in a little bit of nail polish remover and dabbing it on marker or ink stains can help remove these sorts of stains,” says Heumann Godes.
Proceed with caution if the marker stain is on a painted wall, as the nail polish remover might remove the paint, too.
8. Dissolve melted plastic
If you’ve ever accidentally melted a part of a plastic bag onto your frying pan or stovetop, you know the frustration of trying to remove it. But nail polish remover can help.
Put some baking soda on a damp sponge to wipe as much of the plastic residue off. Then soak a paper towel with nail polish remover and leave it on the residue for a few minutes. Scrub with a soft-bristle brush. Your surface should be plastic-free.