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How to Remove Nail Polish Without Remover

Updated on June 19, 2013

I am stranded in the middle of nowhere.

No seriously, I really am. My housing community is in the middle of the woods. The only way out is by vehicle as we are right off of a highway. There are no sidewalks for miles. As I do not have a driver's license, and under these circumstances, I cannot walk anywhere--I am stranded.

That being said, from time to time I run out of things that I must wait for my husband to come home for me to get. Usually it's something not so urgent, like paper towels or juice. Sometimes it's devastating--like diapers and wipes.

Recently it was nail polish remover.

In these situations, chipping away nail polish seems like the only option--but as I am concerned about the health of my nails that didn't seem like a very good option. So I decided to do what I always do when I'm curious about something and browsed the internet for alternative methods of removing nail polish.

Here are the methods I came across and how they worked for me.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Apply nail polish generously.Wipe nail polish off after a few seconds.  Reapply nail polish.Repeat until all nail polish is removed.
Apply nail polish generously.
Apply nail polish generously.
Wipe nail polish off after a few seconds.
Wipe nail polish off after a few seconds.
Reapply nail polish.
Reapply nail polish.
Repeat until all nail polish is removed.
Repeat until all nail polish is removed.

Wet Nail Polish Method

Apply a thick coat of nail polish to the dried nail polish you want to remove. I would suggest using a clear or light coloured nail polish so that it doesn't stain your nails. I used black nail polish for the sake of demonstrating this process, but as you can see dark nail polish really isn't such a great idea.

Anyway, before your glob of nail polish dries wipe it off! I waiting about 10 seconds before wiping.

Repeat the process as needed until all of the nail polish is removed.

I'd say that this is a really great method to remove nail polish when you're in a pinch! It's quick, easy, and doesn't take much product to complete.

Other Products You Can Use

  • Hairspray
  • Perfume
  • Spray Deodorant
  • Hand Sanitizer

Body Spray Method

This is a method I read about that you could try with a couple different products (listed to the right). Since I don't have any of the other products to work with (except hand sanitizer, which I'd rather save since this flu season has been ridiculous), I could only test out this method with body spray. Apparently, the ingredients that make this process work are found in all these products--so if it works with one it should work with others.

However, when I tried this with the body spray I have on hand it did not work. It took off a little colour, but after about 15 minutes of rubbing and not getting any noticeable results--I lost interest in this method.

Despite my failure, I know that this process works with the right product since it's demonstrated in a wikihow on How to Remove Nail Polish Without Using Remover. So, I may try this again with some of the other products on the list, but for now this will not be my go-to way of removing unwanted nail polish.

Citrus Fruits

For this technique, mix citrus fruit juice (like from a lemon, lime, or orange) with white vinegar then apply to old nail polish with a Q-tip.

As with the body spray, when I tried this method I did not get very great results. However, it did a wonderful job of removing the black nail polish that had gotten on my skin from trying the wet polish method. So, the two processes may work well together as an alternative to nail polish remover.


I tried this by apply toothpaste to the polish and rubbing it with a Q-tip as I would brush my teeth with a toothbrush. After my first attempt the polish on my nail actually seemed smoother and shinier...

Probably not going to ever use this as a way to remove my nail polish, but to smooth bumps I might!

The Results

Whenever I run out of nail polish remover and need to get rid of some crusty polish I now know that I can successfully and quickly use wet nail polish to remove the dry and a citrus fruit/white vinegar mixture to clean up any mess the nail polish makes on my skin.

If you have any tips, tricks, alternative methods, or successes/failures with the techniques I've listed here--please share in teh comments below!

For more on nails, check out my Pinterest board full of nail art designs and nail care tips!


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    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 

      5 years ago from North Florida

      I did buy some "unscented" polish remover once. I have asthma and the fumes still aggravated me. You are right about the quick drying polishes. I use Sally Hansen Quick Dry (Fast Dry? FasDri? Something like that.) on my toenails and it doesn't stink nearly as bad as some of the other stuff. Thanks for the tip!

    • followthestray profile imageAUTHOR

      Samantha Harris 

      5 years ago from New York

      Your comment reminded me of something I came across some time ago, and I'll probably add this to my hub. I haven't had the pleasure of using this stuff, but from what this article says it's pretty good: Odorless organic nail polish remover! Now that you've reminded me of it, I'm going to have to add it to my list of things to try. As for stinky nail polish, I have heard fast drying nail polish has less of an odor than regular nail polish--but I have also heard it doesn't last as long so I haven't tried it. Maybe I will give it a go to find out for sure.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 

      5 years ago from North Florida

      This is awesome. I don't use nail polish a lot because the chemical fumes really wig me out. I may try a couple of your suggestions the next time, because the stink from the nail polish remover is even worse!

    • followthestray profile imageAUTHOR

      Samantha Harris 

      5 years ago from New York

      The wet polish method is definitely going to work no matter what. The other methods may have worked better for me had I different products to use. But yes, the wet polish method comes with my highest recommendation. I did end up using clear nail polish to remove the rest of the polish from my nails and it was almost as good as if I had remover.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      So then, you only recommend the wet nail polish method? Thanks for also telling us what doesn't work. Voted Useful!


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