Fixing a Wood Table With a Nail Polish Remover Stain

April 8, 2011
Nail Polish Remover on Table


I spilled some nail polish remover on my kitchen table and it turned white and my table is a dark dark brown. Is there anything I can do to restore it without stripping the stain?

By Jojo from Bouctouche, NB


Using a Clothes Iron

I just figure out the easiest most affective way to do it (and believe me, I tried it all).
  1. Warm up your iron on max (no steam just the dry iron).
  2. Put a clean, white wash cloth on top of the stain.
  3. After the iron is hot, work circular motion moves with the iron on top of the stain for about 1 min.
  4. Remove the wash cloth to check your progress.
  5. Keep doing that over and over until the stain is gone.

Here is an explanation of why it works: the heat of the iron dilates the wood grain, and also evaporates the nail polish which is very volatile. Don't let the iron sit on top of the wood for too long, it will damage the wood grain and burn your table.

I hope it works on tables with different finishings. I know it worked on mine. Hope that helps lots of people staining my table with wood polish was so frustrating!

By Fernanda

Hot Iron Worked

Using the suggestion with the dry iron worked great for me. I spilled some candle wax on a laminated chocolate brown table and tried some nail polish remover to get ride of it. What a mistake! The stain was still there plus, now, a god awful white stain.

Following the above suggestion, I used a dry iron over a clean cloth and and the white stain (and the wax!) disappeared.

Note: I first used a facecloth with a line-texture in it and it imprinted the texture on my table. I then switched to a clean plain tea towel and everything was fine!

By xtineh

Touch Ups

You have stripped the stain with the nail polish remover. Look for products in the paint store for spot touch ups. They may have something that will fix the spot. Sadly, I think you are going to have to refinish the whole table top. to get a good match.

By Louise B.

Mayonnaise With Ashes

To whoever suggested mayonnaise with ashes, thank you! I just created an account to post my testimonial. I spilled nail polish remover on my deceased father's desk four years ago and have always just put a cloth over the surface. I finally found this tip and it drastically reduced the cloudy white stain. I smeared mayo over the surface, sprinkled ashes from the fireplace over the top, and then buffed until it was dry. Thank you so much!

By Diana

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Check out these tips.

April 3, 2012

Regarding nail polish remover spilled on real wood table. Yes! The hot iron with white washcloth worked WONDERS! I was stunned!


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October 8, 2007

My daughter spilled nail polish remover (acetone) on my kitchen table, and then wiped it up. My table now has a large cloudy, rough area where the remover ate through the finish on the wood table.


32 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

January 2, 2012

My daughter spilt nail varnish remover on our small table. The stain is white and very rough; what can I do to put it right? The table is made of yew, and highly polished.



January 11, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Since this was nail polish remover, it has done to the table what it was meant to do to your nails; removed (or at least ruffled) the finish. So the sanding and refinishing will be necessary. Probably the whole table top since you will probably never be able to match the refinished area to the rest of the tabletop.


An alternative to consider is painting instead of staining the wood. Being sure to sand with the grain of the wood, get the roughness restored to as smooth as possible. If you have to spot sand too much, you may create a dip of sorts in the surface. So sand the rest of the tabletop as well, at least the surrounding areas...always with the grain, never against. Then paint the table top with a complimentary paint color. Painting is much easier to do as well as it covers the affected spot better than any stain would especially since you may not be able to sand far enough down to get all the original stain/finish off.

January 11, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

I just reread your post that the table is yew. Painting is probably the least desired effect you are wanting. The high polish is just a very thick layer of clear varnish. The whiteness is the result of the remover trying to break it down (so it could be removed).


Sanding will work, but a faster solution might be to strip the entire surface of the table chemically with a paint or varnish stripper product available most anywhere. Then redo that thick coat of clear varnish.

It may be worth it to seek out a professional furniture refinisher to do this work to get the best result for the beautiful yew wood.

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August 9, 2012

I spilled finger nail polish remover on my wood table. Is there anything I can do to restore the finish?



Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 172 Posts
August 10, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

Really, the only thing you can do is to refinish the whole top. Sand it down good and reapply some polyurethane.


Being the klutz that I am, I have now refinished my coffee table 3 times! LOL

August 11, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

If your top is veneer, please do not sand your table. You could ruin it completely. Carefully remove the finish on the table top with one of the commercial products offered at the hardware or other stores. DO NOT let it drip on other parts of the table or you will end up having to redo the whole table. Your best advice will come from the store personnel who know "how to" restore your table.
You will have several other steps to this process to return your table to useable condition.

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April 8, 2011

I dropped a bottle of nail polish on our tile floor and it splattered on the leg of our table. My hubby used nail polish remover before I could tell him no and now there are dull lighter white spots, almost like a water stains, on the wood and the varnish is gone. I called Pottery Barn and of course nobody can remember the name of the varnish since it is an older piece.

Should I just varnish it with clear and leave the spots? I have heard about the iron method, but I am scared. I feel so horrible I want to cry about my floor and my table! Thanks for all your help!

By lacullinane from Omaha


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August 6, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

You have stripped the stain with the nail polish remover. Look for products in the paint store for spot touch ups. They may have something that will fix the spot. Sadly, I think you are going to have to refinish the whole table top to get a good match.

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July 17, 2013

Table with damaged finish.How can I remove a nail polish remover mark from my table?

By Palika from Rancho Cucamonga


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July 18, 20130 found this helpful

In my experience nail polish remover takes off the finish of things, so you don't want to "remove" the mark, but to cover it or restore the original finish. We would have to know what your table is made of in order to help you with that. It may not be possible to repair it. I dropped some nail polish remover on the waistline of fake suede dress; there was no way to fix the mark as it removed the fuzziness. A friend suggested I tie the belt in the front and put a broach on it to cover the mark. Worked well. Otherwise, the dress was ruined.

October 1, 20220 found this helpful

Oak coffe table nail polish remover how to fix it

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September 8, 2013

I have spilt nail varnish remover on my mum's oak table and it has left a big white mark down the leg. Any suggestions?

By Katie


January 5, 20141 found this helpful

Well I got told to put mayonnaise and ashes on the table and let it sit for 5 minutes, then gently rub it into the stain with a cloth (which should also help to remove the ashes and mayonnaise.

Next wet a cloth and put some soap on the table, then rinse the table and let it dry well.

Then pour 4 Tbsp's of wood oil onto the stain, then rub it all in. Then it sit for 10 minutes, and wash the table again with the soapy cloth.

Then get another cloth and dampen it slightly and put it over the stain. Put an iron onto the cloth (using high heat) and rub it in a slow circular motion, keep checking your stain. DO NOT let the iron sit or it will burn it more!

Hope it helps xx

January 19, 20171 found this helpful

I spilt nail polish remover all over my bedside table.....tried the iron and damp cloth and blown away by how well it worked!

February 6, 20210 found this helpful

Did absolutely nothing to repair the acetone stain on my table. Nothing.

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April 23, 2013

How do I get nail polish remover off a wood table? It took the finish off, how do I get it?

By Jessica S.


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April 25, 20130 found this helpful

I'm sorry to say, there is no 'getting it off' because the nail polish remover has removed the finish on that surface. You're going to need to re-stain and then re-varnish at least the spot that has been stripped by the nail polish remover.

There are several products in the paint aisles of any big-box store (WalMart, Target, Home Depot, etc) or you can go to a dedicated paint store (Benjamin Moore, etc). Staff at any of the stores should be able to help you match the stain and find the small cans of the stain and varnish.

The stores will also have free info and instructions brochures to help you get a good application that will last a long time.

June 28, 20160 found this helpful

Actually, I accidentally spilled some finger nail polish remover on my husbands coffee table. I was frantic.
I panicked and wondered if I'd be able to get it off before he got home from work. Then looked up this website which led me to believe after reading all comments that there was no hope for the coffee table.
Well I tried using my finger nail to scratch up the spot the finger nail polish remover left and it worked!

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July 19, 2016

I was doing my nails at the dining room table, I will not do that again. The bottle of nail polish remover spilled and ate a place about 5 by 5 inches of the stain off of my table.

Is there any easier fix than refinishing the entire table top?


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July 23, 20160 found this helpful

Bald's Balm Finish Restorer. You might have to send away for it. Check Lee Valley Tools.

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November 8, 2014

How do you remove a nail polish remover stain from a dark wood kitchen table?

By Maria


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 226 Feedbacks
November 9, 20140 found this helpful

I have found it impossible to remove it. The chemicals dissolve and dry with the finish on the wood. So you need to refinish the table top, removing the current finish and restaining and refinishing. Or just learn to live with it. It is a real job, but wood refinishing is a rewarding if messy hobby.

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May 25, 2017

My daughter was using nail polish remover and spilled some on our wooden dining table. There are now white areas where the finish is damaged. Any ideas on how to fix this?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
May 25, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

If they are small areas, you could get a matching crayon made for wood at the hardware store and touch it up. If the area is too large, you will have to refinish the top. In the future, have your daughter do her manicures on a table that is protected.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
May 29, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

In the past I have had similar happen. I sand it down, stain and reseal it. You can do just a small area at a time. Lowe's carries very small stains and sealers just for this purpose. The are less than an ounce and come in a little foil pouch type of package.

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