How To Remove Acetone Residue?

Acetone, a colorless liquid also known as propanone, is a solvent used in the manufacture of plastics and other industrial products. Acetone may also be used to a limited extent in household products, including cosmetics and personal care products.  It also occurs naturally in the human body as a byproduct of metabolism.

You may be most familiar with acetone as an ingredient in nail polish remover. If you spill acetone at home, it won’t leave obvious stains because it’s colorless and evaporates quickly. However, commercially available acetone products contain other substances that make clean up after the acetone has evaporated, so clean up any acetone residue quickly after a spill.

What is acetone?

Acetone is a clear, colorless liquid. It is a solvent that can dissolve or break down other materials, such as paint, varnish, or grease. It evaporates quickly into the air.

Acetone is naturally present in trees and other plants, as well as in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust, and landfills. It also occurs in the body. Other names for acetone include:

  • Dimethyl ketone
  • 2-propanone
  • Propanone
  • Beta-ketopropane


Companies use acetone in small amounts to create products that break down or dissolve other substances, such as:

  • Nail polish
  • Paint
  • Varnish

In industry, manufacturers use acetone for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Removing grease or gum from textiles such as wool and silk
  • Making lacquers for cars or furniture
  • Making plastics

Some people also consume or inhale acetone-based nail polish remover in order to achieve a “high”. This is because nail polish remover can also contain alcohol. Doing this is very dangerous, as the chemicals in nail polish remover can seriously damage the kidneys, liver, brain, and nervous system.

How to Remove Acetone Residue with Everyday Products

1. Dishwashing Liquid

This technique is straightforward, and you probably already have all you need at home.

Blot the liquid with a dry, white, absorbent cloth. Gently scrape off semi-solids with a round spoon. Crush solids and remove them completely with a vacuum cleaner.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of lukewarm water. Do not use a stronger solution as it may leave a soap film residue. Do not use detergent as it may contain bleach which may damage or discolor the surface being cleaned. 

Apply some dishwashing solution to the acetone residue with a white washcloth and gently work in from the edges of the spill towards the center for a few minutes. Don’t rub. Continue until the spill is completely removed.

Blot the liquid with another white cloth for as long as it absorbs the acetone solution. You may need to repeat the process until the acetone solution is completely removed.

When the spill is completely gone, rinse the area thoroughly with cold water to remove any detergent residue. Blot with a dry towel to remove all moisture. Make sure no one enters the area until it is completely dry.

2. Rubbing alcohol

Dab the acetone residue with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. After soaking the residue, let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away.

You can repeat this operation a few times more since rubbing alcohol is safe for most surfaces. But, as we’ve mentioned above, it’s always best to test it on an inconspicuous part of the surface.

If the residue refuses to come off with rubbing alcohol, try isopropyl alcohol instead. These products are not the same; isopropyl alcohol is pure alcohol (100%), whereas rubbing alcohol contains 70% isopropyl alcohol.

3. Dry Cleaning Solvent

If DIY techniques aren’t your strong suit, a commercial product such as a dry-cleaning solvent can turn the situation around.

I know that you’ll have to take a drive or a walk to your local grocery store to obtain it, but I can assure you that it’s worthwhile.

Once you’ve got dry cleaning solvent on hand, apply it to a clean white cloth and blot the residue until it’s lifted off the surface. Repeat this procedure a couple more times to get rid of all the residue.


You can also use a commercial stain remover solution to remove acetone residue. Test each stain removal solution in an inconspicuous area for color transfer to the cloth or damage to the carpet. If a change occurs, use an alternative solution.

Some stain removal solutions leave a residue in the carpet that can attract dirt. Use a mist sprayer to prevent over-saturating the area. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Acetone can dissolve or damage some plastics, so if spilled on a plastic surface, clean it up quickly. Acetone evaporates very quickly, but avoid getting it on your hands. Wear rubber gloves to safely remove acetone. Long-term exposure can be harmful. Do not use stain remover solutions in stronger concentrations than recommended.