Comprehensive List of Uses of Nail Polish Remover (and the Science Behind it)

by Roxanne C.

Any manicure addict will know what nail polish remover is. That magic solution that erases all mistakes with the swipe of a cotton pad. The miracle start-over-from-scratch beauty product that allows us to have a new colour as and when we like it. What many people don’t know are the other very practical uses of nail polish remover. Before I get started on what these are, you need to know that it’s the important ingredient, acetone, that’s doing all the work here.


Uses of Nail Polish Remover

Acetone – the miracle ingredient in nail polish removers.


Having worked in a laboratory for several years, I can safely say that every scientist will admit that acetone is a God-send. Have you heard of the joke about how a researcher relabelled his acetone as “dimethyl ketone” and it never got stolen again? The reason acetone is so potent is the fact that it has 6  electron-deficient (and therefore reactive) alpha hydrogens. Because of this, acetone can react with almost everything that has electron-rich components (or “groups”), save for materials like metals and wood. Why this reaction is important is because only when two things react can they each be changed into something else altogether. For example, when we want to remove some types of plastic from oven grills, we can add acetone because they react with each other.


However, I wouldn’t recommend adding nail polish remover for that because they usually don’t contain as high a percentage of acetone as in the labs (at least 99.5%). A good amount of acetone in removers would be about 30% – 60% so that the skin on your fingers don’t sting that badly, if at all. That being said, here are some uses of nail polish removers that you might find helpful!


1) Remove marker stains.

Nail polish removers work wonders on stains from permanent markers. Scientists use these to write very often on fume hoods, beakers and flasks and acetone removes everything in one wipe.


2) Clean those patent shoes.

Use nail polish remover to get rid of dark scuff marks on your patent shoes. Scuff marks are the dark marks you get when your shoe glides or slides against another object. Just pour some onto a piece of cloth and wipe away!


Uses of Nail Polish Remover

Get rid of ugly scuffs on your patent shoes.


3) Clean scratches on glass surfaces.

These can be any glass surface, such as your watch face, picture frames, brush holders and windows. Acetone does not react with glass so it stays intact, while the dirt gets removed.


4) Remove ink stains on clothes.

Now I’m not sure this can be said for all ink stains, but before using nail polish remover, you should first try removing them with detergent and then alcohol. Only after that should you try nail polish remover. Do note that this could damage your fabric, so carry out a spot test first. You might like to read this article on removing different types of ink stains.


5) Clean your computer’s keyboard.

Just put some remover onto a piece of cleaning cloth and wipe your keyboard. You’ll be surprised just how much dirt gets stuck there!


6) Remove stickers (or remnants of price tags) off glass and metal surfaces.

The adhesive on stickers can be corroded by acetone in nail polish remover. This tip should come in handy when you get a gift for someone!


7) BONUS: Remove leeches!

I found this tip off the internet and actually, I have no idea why people would bring a bottle of nail polish remover when they go hiking. Oh, wait. Of course. An alternative? Table salt works just as well.





Image creditS: Rio Beauty, Shoe Doctor, PhD and Yes Missy!