How To Remove Nail Polish With Hand Sanitizer

Are you in a pinch with no nail polish remover, but still need to remove your nail color quickly, does it work in a pinch? Can you use hand sanitizer to remove your nail polish?

I’m going to share how to remove nail polish with hand sanitizer, so you don’t have to worry about the removal of your nail polish, if you’ve run out of nail polish remover.

How To Remove Nail Polish With Hand Sanitizer

What Is Hand Sanitizer Made From?

Hand sanitizer is made from several ingredients, and the primary active ingredient is alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers typically contain between 60 and 90 percent ethanol or isopropanol.

This disinfecting agent is highly effective against germs, including viruses and bacteria. Along with this disinfecting alcohol, hand sanitizers also include other ingredients such as scented oils, humectants (for skin moisturization), and stabilizers like glycerin or propylene glycol. Essential oils like tea tree oil may also be added for their cleansing properties.

Other inactive ingredients in some of these products may include fragrances, dyes, coloring, potassium sorbate (a preservative), and even ethyl acetate which serves as a solvent for other natural extracts used to make the product smell nice or give it texture. 

How To Remove Nail Polish With Hand Sanitizer

Trying to remove nail polish without remover at hand? Don’t worry, your trusty hand sanitizer can do the trick. Here’s a simple guide on how to remove your old polish with hand sanitizer – it doesn’t have to be difficult to remove.

First, ensure you have the right type of hand sanitizer, which will make your nail polish soften. The key ingredient you need is ethanol, which is found in most alcohol-based hand sanitizers. This component is responsible for breaking down the polish into small pieces, making it easier to remove.

  1. Grab a cotton ball, cotton pad, or a soft cloth.
  2. Pour a small amount of hand sanitizer onto your chosen material.
  3. Apply the soaked material to one of your nails, making sure to press firmly and rub it in a circular motion.
  4. Be patient, as this process may take slightly longer compared to using traditional nail polish remover. Gently repeat the rubbing motion until the nail polish begins to come off.
  5. Once the polish looks visibly loosened, wipe it away using the same material or a clean one if needed.
  6. Move on to the next nail and repeat steps 2-5 until all your nails are polish-free.
  7. After all the polish is removed, wash your hands with warm water and mild soap. This helps remove any lingering hand sanitizer, and leaves your nails feeling clean and refreshed.

This method works best for light or medium shades of nail polish. Very dark or glittery polishes might require a bit more elbow grease or multiple applications of hand sanitizer to fully remove them. 

Why Is Hand Sanitizer An Alternative For Nail Polish Removal?

Why Is Hand Sanitizer An Alternative For Nail Polish Removal?

Hand sanitizer can be an effective alternative for nail polish removal due to its high alcohol concentration. If you look closely at the main ingredients in hand sanitizer, you’ll often find that they contain a significant percentage of alcohol, usually around 75% isopropyl alcohol.

This concentration of alcohol is capable of dissolving the pigments in your nail polish, making it easier to remove.

In comparison to acetone, which is commonly found in standard nail polish removers, hand sanitizer may be a more accessible household product for many people.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of hand sanitizers has significantly increased, which means you are more likely to have it around when you need to remove nail polish in a pinch.

Choosing hand sanitizer as a nail polish remover can also be a more gentle option for your nails than acetone.

Celebrity nail artists like Boyce have also expressed their preference for using alcohol-based products like rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer over acetone removers.

This is because hand sanitizer can be less harsh on your nails and the surrounding skin, reducing the potential for damage or irritation.

Here’s a simple guide on how to use hand sanitizer for nail polish removal:

  1. Apply a generous amount of hand sanitizer to a cotton ball or pad.
  2. Press the cotton ball or pad against your nail, ensuring full coverage of the nail polish area.
  3. Allow the hand sanitizer to sit on your nail for a few moments, letting the alcohol dissolve the polish.
  4. Gently rub the cotton ball or pad in a circular motion to lift away the polish.

Remember, it’s essential to take care of your nails and surrounding skin after using hand sanitizer or any other nail polish removal method. Don’t forget to moisturize your nails and cuticles with a nourishing oil or lotion to keep them looking healthy and beautiful.

Is Hand Sanitizer Damaging On Your Nails?

You might be wondering if using hand sanitizer on your nails can cause any damage. It’s a valid concern, especially if you’re using hand sanitizer frequently.

The occasional use of hand sanitizer to remove nail polish should not cause significant damage to your nails or surrounding skin.

However, it’s important to be aware that hand sanitizers typically contain high levels of alcohol, which can be drying to your skin and nails.

When your nails are exposed to alcohol repeatedly, they may become brittle and prone to breakage. While using hand sanitizer to remove nail polish once in a while is likely not a problem, relying on it as a regular method for polish removal might lead to weakened nails.

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation, using hand sanitizer can also potentially cause mild irritation around the nail bed or cuticles. If you notice any redness, swelling, or discomfort, it’s best to avoid using hand sanitizer for nail polish removal and opt for a gentler alternative.

To minimize potential damage to your nails when using hand sanitizer for polish removal:

  • Limit the frequency of use
  • Apply a moisturizing cuticle oil or hand cream afterward
  • Avoid rubbing your nails too hard during the process

Remember, there are other alternatives for removing nail polish without a dedicated remover. These options might be gentler on your nails and skin, such as using rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or even toothpaste. 

Effective Methods to Remove Nail Polish Without Nail Polish Remover

Effective Methods to Remove Nail Polish Without Nail Polish Remover

There are several ways to remove nail polish without acetone, or using traditional nail polish removers. Let’s explore a few alternatives in the following subsections.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol, is a handy household product that can help you remove the nail paint effectively. To use it, simply soak a cotton ball or pad in rubbing alcohol and place it on your nail.

Allow the cotton ball to remain on the nail for about 10 seconds, then gently rub it back and forth. The polish should gradually lift off your nails. Remember to moisturize your nails and cuticles afterward, as rubbing alcohol may dry your skin.


You might be surprised to learn that a dollop of toothpaste can work as a nail polish remover in a pinch. To try this method, dab a small amount of toothpaste onto each nail and buff it in a circular motion using a paper towel or an absorbent paper product.

Gradually, the nail polish should soften and come off. Rinse your hands afterward and moisturize your nails and cuticles to prevent dryness.

Hair Spray

Removing nail polish using hairspray is an easy and inexpensive way to take off difficult colors. To start, you will need a can of aerosol hairspray, cotton balls or cotton pads. 

Begin by spraying the affected area with the hairspray from a distance of about six inches, working one nail at a time. Allow the product to dry for several minutes before wiping the old nail polish off, and use the cotton ball or cotton pad. When finished removing the leftover polish, clean off until you don’t have any nail polish left, and apply moisturizer if desired. 

Hydrogen Peroxide and Hot Water

Hydrogen peroxide and hot water can also help you remove polish. Prepare a solution by mixing equal parts of hydrogen peroxide with hot water.

Soak your nails in this solution for about 10 to 20 minutes, then use a cotton ball or pad to gently wipe away any remaining polish.

Don’t forget to wash your hands, moisturize, and apply cuticle oil after this method, as both hydrogen peroxide and hot water can be drying to your skin.

Remember that all of these methods may take longer to remove stubborn or glitter polishes. It’s essential to exercise patience during the process and give your nails proper care by moisturizing them and applying cuticle oil afterward.

While alternative methods like rubbing alcohol, toothpaste, and hydrogen peroxide mixed with hot water can work effectively too. The key is to be gentle with your nails and provide them with the necessary care and attention, especially when trying unconventional methods. 


How To Make A DIY Nail Polish Remover

If you find yourself without any nail polish remover and need a quick solution, hand sanitizer can be a great alternative. Here’s how to make your own DIY nail polish remover using hand sanitizer:

  1. Gather your supplies: You will need a bottle of hand sanitizer with a high alcohol content, a cotton pad or cotton ball, and a small dish to hold the hand sanitizer.
  2. Pour the hand sanitizer into the dish: Squirt a small amount of hand sanitizer into the dish. You don’t need too much; just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
  3. Soak the cotton pad in hand sanitizer: Place your cotton pad or cotton ball into the dish, making sure it’s completely soaked in hand sanitizer.
  4. Rub the soaked cotton pad on your nails: Gently rub the cotton pad on your nails, applying a little pressure to help dissolve the nail polish. You may need to rub for a few minutes to completely remove the polish.
  5. Repeat as necessary: If the nail polish is not completely removed, apply more hand sanitizer to the cotton pad and rub again. You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove all of the polish.
  6. Moisturize: After removing the nail polish, it’s important to moisturize your hands and nails, as the alcohol in the hand sanitizer can dry out your skin. Apply a hand cream and cuticle oil to keep your hands and nails healthy.


If you don’t have access to traditional nail polish remover and want to remove nail polish without using nail polish remover, hand sanitizer can be a great alternative. Hand sanitizers typically contain high levels of alcohol, which helps to dissolve the pigments in your nail polish and makes it easier to remove.

To use hand sanitizer for nail polish removal, simply pour a small amount onto a cotton ball or pad and rub it gently on your nails.

You may need to repeat this process a few times for stubborn polishes. Once all the polish has been removed, make sure to moisturize your hands and nails afterward.

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Gemma Etc.
Gemma Etc.

Hi, my name is Gemma, and I’m the writer behind I’m a true beauty obsessive, and love writing about anything to do with beauty. In addition to Gemma Etc., I also own, and love sharing my thoughts and feelings about beauty and lifestyle products.

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