There’s only an hour left before your hot dinner date, and old, chipped nail polish simply won’t do. You reach for the remover, only to find an empty bottle — or no bottle at all. Don’t panic — household items ranging from deodorant to fruit can be your nails’ saving grace.


Hairspray or Spray Deodorant

Grab a bottle of hairspray or deodorant from your vanity table and get to spraying. The chemicals in both of these aerosol products have the ability to remove a variety of stains, and the same principle works for removing the remains of your last manicure. Look for ingredients such as isopropyl alcohol and propylene carbonate, which both act as solvents, to ensure the hairspray or deodorant’s efficacy. Spray each nail over the sink to catch any drips, then rub with a cotton pad or ball. Repeat a few times until all traces of polish are gone.

Citrus Soak

Squeeze the juice from any citrus fruit — think lemons, limes or grapefruits — and mix with equal parts vinegar to cover your nails. All varieties of vinegar consists mainly of acetic acid, making any vinegar a non-toxic option for dissolving stubborn polish. Dip your tips into a bowl with this citrus-vinegar mixture for a few minutes, then firmly swipe each nail with a cotton ball. If the lacquer remains, try dipping the cotton into the mixture and hold directly on the nail — it may require several attempts before all the polish is removed.

Top Coat

Find a bottle of clear top coat — or any nail polish you have on hand — and use it to paint two nails at a time. Immediately take a cotton pad or wet wipe and firmly rub over the newly polished nails; both the new coat and your lingering manicure should rub right off. Continue the process until you’ve painted and swiped each nail; repeat if needed until clean.

Tips for Your Tips

If a few specks of lacquer still linger, employ your trusty nail file to gently buff away any stubborn bits of lingering color; a fine-grit file is both gentle and effective on natural nails. After employing any polish-removing method, it’s a good idea to soak your nails in a mixture of warm water and mild soap to get rid of any residue or chemicals left behind. Once clean and fully dry, apply your new shade of nail polish for a fresh set of digits.