4 ways I use nail polish remover to get rid of marks and stains around my home

Rather than endlessly scrubbing at marks on surfaces, using nail polish remover helps remove them quickly and easily

chequered floor in a small bathroom
(Image credit: BC Designs)

I was delighted with the results when I recently had a new bathroom fitted, which felt light, bright, and sparkling clean. However, the plumber's heavy-duty boots had left a few small black marks on the new floor tiles which, despite my best efforts, just wouldn't budge.

I tried various different cleaning tips to try to remove the stains left from his rubber soles, being careful not to cause any damage to the color and pattern on the bathroom flooring, and nothing seemed to be working. 

My friend popped around to see the results of the room makeover, as she was after some bathroom ideas for her own project, and when I pointed out my annoyance about the marks, she advised me to try using nail polish remover. 

'That should get rid of those,' she said. 'It's not just for nail polish.' 

And she was right. She also let me in on some other nifty uses for nail polish remover around the home. It was a revelation that I'm very happy to share.

Using nail polish for home cleaning

Before you try my tips, let me just advise you: always, always do a patch test somewhere unseen first since nail polish remover is strong stuff and could damage your surfaces.

1. I use nail polish remover to clean tiles

With my friend's advice, I tried this unusual way to clean tile floor. I wet a paper towel with some nail polish remover and then gently rubbed the black marks on the floor and they quickly disappeared, when before no amount of scrubbing had any effect. 

I then wiped this over with a sponge dampened with water to remove any residue. I've since tried both acetone and acetone-free nail polish remover for the task and found they work equally as well. 

This method could be used for cleaning marks on various floor tiles, including stone and vinyl tiles, although I wouldn't advise it for wooden flooring as the polish may discolor it. 

Walk-in shower with graphic tiles and brass shower

(Image credit: Gunter & Co.)

2. I use nail polish remover on sticky residue

The new shower enclosure in my bathroom was covered in various different stickers and when I peeled these off some had left sticky residue marks. I know how to clean shower doors so they are streak free, but couldn't remove these annoying little sticky spots. Here was another ingenious use for nail polish remover that my friend let me in on.

Again, I soaked a bit of cotton wool with nail polish remover and gently rubbed at the sticky residue, which came away in seconds, leaving the glass beautifully mark-free. Here I did find that an acetone-based nail polish worked best. 

There is endless advice available for ways to clean a bathroom, but I had never before heard about my friend's tip for using nail polish remover in this way.

I have also found this method works well for removing sticky residue from metal surfaces, such as taps and door knobs.

3. I use nail polish remover to get rid of permanent ink stains

Like many other parents, I am always a little nervous when my children get out the permanent markers for drawing or school projects as I worry about what other surfaces might unintentionally become indelibly marked by pen. 

Once more, in the event that the worse happens and some marker pen makes it onto a wall or other surface, nail polish remover can come to the rescue, advised my friend.

Soak a cotton wool ball in the remover and gently dab at the mark and it should soon disappear.

Morris & Co x Spode tableware collection

(Image credit: Morris & Co)

4. I use nail polish remover to clean tea or coffee stains off china

It's annoying when your favorite – and much used – cups or mugs become marked by unsightly tea or coffee stains. My friend's tip was to wipe the inside of the cups with a cotton wool ball soaked in nail polish remover to remove the marks and get them back to pearly white. Make sure you then wash the cups thoroughly in soapy warm water before using them again.

So keep hold of your bottle of nail polish remover as it can have multiple uses.

Rachel is senior content editor, and writes and commissions gardening content for homesandgardens.com, Homes & Gardens magazine, and its sister titles Period Living Magazine and Country Homes & Interiors. She has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on gardening, historic houses and arts and crafts, but started out her journalism career in BBC radio, where she enjoyed reporting on and writing programme scripts for all manner of stories. Rachel then moved into regional lifestyle magazines, where the topics she wrote about, and people she interviewed, were as varied and eclectic as they were on radio. Always harboring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, then the wider Homes & Gardens team, specializing in gardens.