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How To Get Nail Glue Out Of Clothes [The Best Way]

Darn. You’ve stained your clothes. That cheap nail glue in that quick and easy nail kit now doesn’t seem like all that good of an idea. But what can you now do to salvage your clothes? Is there a way to safely remove it? Thankfully there is. Here is what you need to do.

So, how do you get nail glue out of clothes? The best way to get nail glue out of clothes is by tackling it when it’s dry. Then use a toothbrush to scrub away as much as possible. If any remains, use a small amount of acetone, or rubbing alcohol, on a cotton ball and rub until it dissolves. Rinsing and washing, and applying a non-whitening stain remover may also be then required.

That’s the gist of it, but there is more to it, as we will be covering in future sections.

But thankfully, with the right approach and a little elbow grease, you can keep your clothes glue-free and in wearable condition.

Let’s continue looking at the process – starting with that all-important – does nail glue permanently ruin clothes?

Does Nail Glue Ruin Clothes?

Not always. There are many ways that you can save your clothes from being ruined by nail glue. But there is always the chance they might be stained or damaged.

If you’ve gotten nail glue on your clothes, it can be easy to just assume, in your despair, that they’re completely unsalvageable.

Ruined beyond repair. But don’t toss that shirt or those pants just yet!

There’s a good chance that you can save them.

All that it takes is a little bit of work and some supplies you likely already have lying around the house.

Most clothes are hardy enough to survive some nail glue spilling on them.

However, the cleaning process itself can be a bit much for them to handle.

Before you decide whether you should proceed or not, be sure that you know certain things about our clothes.

Because it can make the difference between clothing as good as new and ready for the rag pile.

First, what is it made out of?

What type of fabric was used in its design?

If it’s natural fabrics, such as linen, cotton, or wool, congratulations!

You’re very likely to be able to remove the glue quickly and easily.

Natural fibers will be hardier and less likely to be damaged by the chemicals involved in the process or the scrubbing that will be required.

If they’re a polyester or other synthetic fabric, stop for a moment before proceeding.

Synthetics, such as polyester, are petroleum derivatives, much like plastic.

In fact, they are a kind of plastic!

Because of this, there may be issues when you try to use acetone to break up the nail glue.

Acetone breaks down plastic.

In a pipe, that would cause the pipe to melt and leak. It can do something similar to your shirt.

What You Will Need To Remove Nail Glue From Your Clothes

You will primarily need acetone. Also on the list should be cotton balls, a stiff-bristled toothbrush, stain remover, and cotton swabs. Having a washer and everything required to wash clothes is necessary, as well.

There are few supplies that you’re going to need to save your clothes from the glue.

In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that you already have some of this at home.

These are all low-cost items, with the exception of the washing machine, of course.

But, if you lack one, don’t worry: A laundromat will suffice!

The most important thing that you need to be sure to have on hand is acetone.

This is what’s going to do most of the work, though your arm will definitely be getting a workout of its own!

Here is the one to buy, by the way, from Amazon:

When it comes to nail glue, nothing breaks it down quite like acetone.

That’s what it is designed to be removed with, so it’s an excellent option!

You’re also going to need more hands-on equipment.

Be sure that you have a new, clean toothbrush on hand before you get started.

If you have a choice, finding one that is stiff-bristled is the best option.

Don’t have access to those?

A nail brush can work, too!

Though a toothbrush is the best, you can make do without one here.

To apply the acetone (and, later, the stain remover; see below), you should have on-hand some cotton balls, cotton swabs, and some napkins or towels in case anything spills or makes a mess.

Having a liquid stain remover is something you’re going to need once you’ve removed the glue itself.

It will get rid of any lingering sign of the glue.

You can use what you’d normally prefer on your clothes.

Lastly, washers.

You don’t have to have your own, but you should have a place where you can go and do laundry.

If they have a space to scrub for a long while? Even better!

Will Acetone Ruin Clothes?

This depends on the clothing. Acetone can have negative effects on some clothes, particularly synthetics. You should always test the product by putting a drop on the fabric where it can’t be seen and judging how it reacts. If it stains or becomes holey, you cannot use acetone on the garment.

Acetone is a very harsh chemical sometimes.

We’re sure that you’re aware of that if you’ve ever had your nails done at all.

It’s the most common ingredient in nail polish remover and can strip away the paint pretty quickly.

So is it any surprise that this strong solvent may be a bit much for certain clothes?

If you’re worried about natural fibers, don’t be.

While it’s possible they could be damaged by the chemicals, it’s also not very likely.

What’s more likely is that the acetone may damage any synthetic fabrics that you might have.

These fabrics, made out of plastics, are uniquely vulnerable to the strength of acetone.

Some will come through just fine, but others just won’t be the same afterward.

Knowing what your clothes are made of before beginning the removal process is vital.

In order to know that you can safely use acetone on a fabric, you need to test it.

This is very easy to do and can be done in a way that won’t ruin the item, even if you find you cannot put acetone on it.

Start by turning the item inside-out and finding one of the interior seams.

The wider the seam, the better.

Remember: You’re trying to find a piece of the fabric that, if stained or melted, will not show!

Being very careful, apply a drop to your the seam, on the side, as far from stitching as possible.

Lay it down flat and still, out of direct sunlight, and wait half an hour. Then, check the cloth.

No holes, stains, or other signs of damage? You should be good to go!

Stains? Attempt to remove the stain with your stain remover.

If it works, you may be able to use acetone, but only in strict moderation.

If there are holes, or the fabric seems to be coming apart or “melting,” you can’t use acetone at all.

How To Get Nail Glue Off Your Clothes – Step By Step

Know whether you can use acetone on your garment or not. Wait for the glue to dry. Scrub away dried glue as much as possible with a toothbrush. Using a cotton ball, apply acetone to the area with the glue. Rub it in until the majority of the glue “lump” is gone. Rinse in cold water, ring out. Apply a non-bleach, non-whitening stain remover to the clothes. Wash on warm and line-dry. If any residue remains, repeat instructions.

Step One – Test The Garment

Before you even begin, you need to know whether your clothes can withstand coming into contact with acetone.

Because it’s such a big part of this process, we recommend that you begin by testing the garment, as we outlined above.

If you can use it, you can proceed using these instructions.

Step Two – Wait For The Nail Glue To Dry

You don’t want to attempt to remove the glue when it’s wet.

Instead, wait for it to dry. It sounds counterproductive, but it’s actually easier to remove dry glue than wet glue.

If you even attempt at a wet removal, you’re more likely to just spread it all over the place rather than clean it up.

This can take twenty minutes or longer.

Step Three – Scrub With A Toothbrush

Once it’s dry, scrub the area with a stiff-bristled toothbrush.

Doing so can help roughen the surface of the glue, making it more susceptible to acetone later.

If your fabric is delicate, don’t do this step. Be careful not to go over the glue more than twelve times.

This could lead to tears or other damage to the fabric.

Step Four – Acetone Cotton Ball

Take a cotton ball, and soak it in your acetone.

Make sure to shake it out a little, as it shouldn’t be dripping. Use the cotton ball to spread out the acetone over what is left of the glue.

Continue wiping until the glue itself, not just the stain, has disappeared.

This may take some time, as you can only work at dissolving a single layer at a time.

Step Five – Apply Stain Remover

Rinse your garment in cold water, ring it out, then apply your stain remover of choice.

This should be something that isn’t a bleach and that isn’t formulated for whitening.

You can use your cotton swab to apply this. It’s best to follow the directions that come with the product.

Step Six – Wash On Warm

Finally, wash your garment on “warm” and allow it to line-dry.

When it’s warm out, twelve hours should be enough. Otherwise, you may need a full 24-hour drying cycle.

If any stain remains, repeat this process.

What To Do If You Can’t Use Acetone

If you can’t use acetone for whatever reason, you can also attempt to use methanol or even rubbing alcohol.

So, you find out the hard way that you can’t use acetone to save your clothes.

Now what?

Don’t give up so soon!

There may be other solutions to your problem. Some may even be in your medicine cabinet or first aid kit.

Rubbing alcohol is something most of us have at home. It’s a common medical supply, and you can find it in many drugstores or even on Amazon.

While possibly being harsh on certain fabrics, it does have the ability to get nail glue out of your clothing.

As always, you need to be sure that your clothes can handle it.

Be sure to test on a hidden seam, as we did with the acetone above.

On the same note, methanol, sometimes called wood alcohol, is widely used by carpenters and other professionals who use heavy-duty glue.

It can get glue out of many fabrics, including polyester. That makes it a great choice for glue on synthetics.

Always do a hidden test to see how your clothes react to it, though.

How To Keep Nail Glue Off Your Clothes

Keep yourself covered with a smock or an apron when using nail glue. Use a tube of glue, not a bottle with a paintbrush applicator. Always keep your glue on a level work surface. If all else fails, apply nail glue with no clothes on!

There are plenty of ways that you can go about preventing nail glue from ruining your clothes.

Some precautions are more traditional than others, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t sometimes find a silly solution that is stupid – but works.

If you’re worried about getting nail glue on your clothes, you can trust that these tips will keep your clothes safe from harm.

Wear Protection 

Not that kind of protection.

First, consider wearing a smock, apron, or even a poncho when you apply nail glue.

Depending on the length and style, this can protect either most of your clothes or all of them.

That way, should a spill happen, you’ll only have it on the material making up your protective clothing, not your good clothes.

Consider The Glue 

You may also choose to use a tube of glue rather than a bottle that uses a paintbrush to apply it.

Tubes are normally easier to control, making spills less likely.

Work On A Steady Surface

On that note, you should also be sure that you always work on a steady surface.

That will dramatically lower your chance of spilling, believe me

Take Your Clothes Off

Don’t feel like putting on a poncho and want to do your nails while you’re home alone, anyway?

We’ll let you in on a secret: If you don’t wear clothes while doing your nails, you can’t get nail glue on your clothes!

Just be careful not to get the glue on your skin!

Or just put a change of clothes on – ones you don’t mind perhaps accidentally getting ruined!


So there you have it – how to remove nail glue out of clothes.

Hopefully, this helps, but if I could suggest one thing, let it be this.

Be very careful with your clothes.

Consider the fabric, and be sure to test it first before using any chemicals or products.

You should be okay, but there is remember no going back!

And if you are wondering how to get nail product out of other things, or even off yourself, check out my other guides below: