How to Get Nail Polish Out of Phones Without Nail Polish Remover

By Irene A. Blake

Many people accidentally spill nail polish on a phone or use it to paint decorative designs on phone surfaces. Although nail polish remover quickly removes nail polish from surfaces, chemical ingredients in commercial nail polish removers can dissolve paint and eat through certain plastics. As a result, to remove nail polish from your phone’s housing or screen, you must use gentler tools and cleaning methods to return your phone to its pre-nail-polish state.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free microfiber cloths
  • Cotton swabs
  • Melamine resin foam eraser
  • Razor blade (optional)
  • 70-percent solution rubbing alcohol

Step 1

Blot and wipe the nail polish from your phone as soon as a spill occurs with lint-free microfiber cloths or cotton swabs. Wipe from the stain edge to the stain center to prevent smearing the polish to other areas of the phone. If you’re not dealing with wet polish, skip this step.

Step 2

Wear away a hardened nail polish stain gently from the surface. If you’re dealing with the phone’s housing, rub the stain with a lightly damp, almost dry to the touch melamine resin foam eraser until the stain is gone from the surface. If you’re dealing with glass or another non-painted hard surface, scrape the stain away carefully with your fingernail or a razor blade.

Step 3

Remove any remaining polish and residues with 70 percent solution rubbing alcohol. Dip a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol when you’re finished removing the bulk of the stain. Squeeze excess rubbing alcohol from the tip and then wipe the stained area.

Step 4

Dip another swab in water, squeeze out the excess liquid from the tip and wipe the area again. Dry your phone with a lint-free microfiber cloth.

Tips & Warnings

  • If nail polish gets inside of a phone through gaps in the phone’s housing such as the microphone, speakers or around the keys or screen, turn off your phone immediately and remove the battery, SIM card and any external storage such as a microSD card. Contact the manufacturer about getting a replacement phone.
  • If you’re dealing with nail polish on a soft phone screen, contact the phone manufacturer for directions on the best method to remove the nail polish based on the phone model and screen material.
  • Never use a phone that has nail polish inside the phone. Ingredients in most nail polishes are flammable and can burn as the phone heats up when powered on, putting off toxic vapors and damaging phone components.
  • Always test your cleaning method on a small spot on the phone’s surface to make certain you won’t damage the phone when cleaning. If you’re using a razor blade you can accidentally scrape away the soft plastic and paint.