Using Nail Polish to Identify Keys

Category Simple Living
If you have keys that are difficult to tell apart, use nail polish to mark them. You can just add a dot in the middle or you can try to get fancy if you wish.


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Use brightly colored nail polish as a frugal way to distinguish one or two of your most needed keys on your keyring.

By Teresa from Vine Grove, KY

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September 14, 20110 found this helpful
Top Comment

I file notches on the heads of all my keys. A small triangle file or Dremel tool will quickly put a notch in the soft metal. One notch for the front door, 2 for the back, etc. I also put the notch on the side that will face up. This allows me to get the key into the lock without my glasses and even in the dark if I forgot to leave the porch light on.

If you don't have a triangle file just ask your favorite handyman or handywoman. I guarantee they have one and would be happy to file a few notches for you.

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I use bright colored nail polish to identify my keys on my key ring. I have a lot of keys, but only certain ones that I use daily.

For instance: My car has one of those black things that you use to lock and unlock it with, plus the car key has a big black top. So I painted the top portion of my gas cap key (I started locking it when gas started going sky high) black to go with them.


My front door key, the one that locks the door knob, I painted hot pink. The one that locks the dead bolt on the front door is painted half pink and half bright blue. Not front and back but the lower half of the top portion pink, then the top half blue. This way the keys are easily visible on my cluttered ring and the knob and deadbolt keys are also easily distinguishable from each other.

By doing this it's made searching for the right key with an arm full of bags so much easier. Plus finding the gas cap key is a lot easier too.

I had thought about putting just a dab of polish on each key but in my jumble of keys, it wouldn't be easily seen. This way the colors are very easily seen.

By Cricket from Parkton, NC

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April 30, 20100 found this helpful
Top Comment

Excellent and very practical thinking. And no one has to know your system, for safety's sake. Thanks for the idea!

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November 12, 2011

For remembering what keys go with what, use the best invention ever, nail polish. Color code the keys red for house, pink for garden shed, etc. Then place them in plastic baggies or on key chains that are color coded as well. The bagged ones can go into the drawer and the key rings can be hung up.


By cj from Minot, ND

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August 22, 20180 found this helpful
Top Comment

I had a lot of small padlocks on cabinets and drawers when was a foster mom. I labeled not only keys but with small dots of craft paint I labeled locks to match the keys.

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If some of the keys on your key ring look very similar, take just 10 to 15 minutes of your time to paint some of them with nail varnish. This will save you hassle and stress trying to find the right key, especially at the end of a hard day when all you want is to get in and put your feet up

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 1

November 13, 2011

My hubby and I have two similar cars, and we have both sets of car keys on our key chains. He worked for a company that gave him a car to use, and he was first in line to buy it after so many miles.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 8, 2010

Since the key to my front door is the same style as the key to my back door, I decorate one of them, usually the front door key. Using a brightly colored nail polish, I paint a thick line on both sides so it is easily recognized as the front door key. However, I thought that if I haven't left my front porch light on, I may have a hard time seeing the painted portion of the key.


Therefore, I took a toothpick, dabbed it in the nail polish (you could use a different color for something unique) and placed dots over the already existing polish. This way I can feel the bumps rather than trying to see the color.

By sooz from Toronto, ON

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April 28, 2010

If you carry a lot of keys, put a drop of bright pink or red nail polish on the key you use the most, so that you can spot it quickly.

By Momof1 from Wilkesboro, NC


Mark Keys with Nail Polish

What a bright idea. (09/28/2007)

By Sandra

Mark Keys with Nail Polish

If additional I.D. is needed I put a tiny piece of tape on the key and write on each key what it is used for. This works well when there are a number of vehicles. Thanks! (04/21/2010)


By sue wilson

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

April 28, 2010

To distinguish keys on a keyring that are similar, paint each with a different color of fingernail polish.

By rda1 from Pleasant Grove, UT


Painting Keys for Easy Identification

For choosing the right key in the dark, my husband filed grooves into some keys which were very similar to others on our keyrings.

I used to work at a hardware store which actually cut keys in a great selection of colours too. Very handy and bright! (12/04/2007)

By jojo

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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