15 Alternative Uses for Nail Polish


Remember that time you glued your fingers together with Super Glue? Don’t be embarrassed — we’ve all done it at least once. What did your mom tell you she needed? Nail polish remover, right? And you were probably like, that’s not gonna work. Except it did.

Before there was nail polish remover, however, there was nail polish — a predecessor of multifunctional proportions. What, pray tell, can a tiny bottle of liquid paint do besides make millions of women (and some men) feel beautiful? You may be surprised. (See also: 51 Uses for Coca-Cola: The Ultimate List)

1. Seal an Envelope

You know when you seal an envelope but realize you forgot to sign the check or left something out all together? You can still open it without tearing the envelope immediately after licking it, but it’s hard to reseal it again with another lick; by now the glue has transferred to the other side. Instead of throwing it away and grabbing a new envelope, brush clear nail polish on the flap to seal it even better than before.

2. Prevent Rusty Screws

If you have hardware (screws, bolts, etc.) in damp places — like the bathroom, for instance — coat them with clear polish to prevent them from rusting.

3. Repair Frayed Laces

Don’t you hate when shoelaces become frayed at the end? They’re still perfecting useful but look like a mess. Dip the ends in clear nail polish, roll them between your fingers, and let the laces dry overnight.

4. Stiffen Thread

I don’t sew because it’s really annoying (seriously, it makes me feel like a pilgrim), but if this is one of your hobbies, you can thread a needle more easily if you dip the end in nail polish. The polish will stiffen the end, making it a breeze to pull through the eye.

5. Stop a Pantyhose Run

I’ll admit that I’ve worn tights before — for Halloween — but I can’t say I’ve ever put on a pair of pantyhose. I know for a fact, however (I’ve got a mom, ya know), that a dab of clear nail polish on a stocking run will prevent it from going any further.

6. Prepare Smudge-Proof Labels

If you’re making labels for your garden out of Popsicle sticks or even old silverware, you can prevent the marker ink from being ruined by the elements by coating the area with clear nail polish.

7. Ward Off Tarnish on Cheap Jewelry

Note that this says cheap jewelry! If you have costume jewelry, make it last longer by brushing it with clear nail polish to prevent tarnishing. Do not use nail polish on valuable jewelry; you will ruin it.

8. Color-Code Keys

All your keys look the same? Differentiate them by painting the tops of each key a separate color. This is great to help kids remember which key is which.

9. Use as a Band-Aid

When you’ve got a small cut — paper cut, hangnail, or other minute scratch — and you can’t find a Band-Aid, use clear nail polish as an alternative adhesive. Nail polish is nontoxic, and it works nearly the same as more expensive liquid adhesives.

10. Heal a Wart

This might sound hard to believe, but it’s true. You can heal a plantar wart by covering it with nail polish. It works because the wart needs oxygen to live, but the nail polish prevents it from getting any. Just be sure to throw out that bottle when you’re done. You don’t want to spread the germs. 

11. Protect Pearl Buttons

Pearl buttons are beautiful — and they can be pricey. Make them last as long as possible by brushing them with clear nail polish. A thin coat will keep them from cracking or chipping.

12. Plug a Small Hole

Whether it’s a small leak or a tiny hole in your door or window screen, nail polish has the heavy-duty power to keep in the stuff you want in and keep out the stuff you want out. If your cooler has sprung a small leak, seal it with nail polish. Likewise, if there’s a small hole in your screen and you want to keep the bugs at bay, brush the area with nail polish.

13. Mark Poisonous Products

When I was a kid, my school gave us Mr. Yuck stickers to take home to our parents so they could label all the products that would essentially kill us. I’m not sure if that program is still intact, or even if it was nationwide, but a big X in red nail polish on toxic chemicals will do the same job.

14. Make Objects Glow in the Dark

Can’t see the buttons on the remote when the lights are out? Have a hard time finding the light switch when you come in at night? To make these objects — and lots more — glow in the dark, paint them with luminescent nail polish. 

15. Touch Up Chipped Glass

If you have a mirror (or any glass, for that matter) that has a chipped corner, prevent a future cut by brushing the corner with nail polish to create a smoother surface.

Have even more ways to use nail polish around the house? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I use nail polish on the inside of my washer where the enamel is chipped off. It only needs to be done a couple times a year. You can find white at the dollar store for french tipped nails. No rust stains on your whites, love it. My in-laws have used it on their mini van for stone chips.

Guest's picture

I had no idea how many other ways that nail polish could be used. I am now going to use my nail polish to seal my letters and see how great it works.

Guest's picture

I touch up chips or scratches on my kitchen floor. Polish comes in soooo many colors now, it's easy to match yours, or even mingle several colors.

Guest's picture

I've used it to touchup expensive vases. There are a million colors--one in sure to match exactly!

Guest's picture

Growing up in a house full of girls, I definitely used a few of theses, like the panty hose and the colorful keys. But I never would have imagined there are so many useful ways to use nail polish. I also hate sewing (makes me feel like a grandma) but I'm constantly getting hole in my fabric and have no choice but to grab a needle and thread to fix it. The frustration I get from try to thread a needle though is irritating! I can't wait to use nail polish to help me out!

Guest's picture

Wow, great tips! Who would have known nail polish could be used for all that!

Guest's picture

About #9, just don't. Nail polish is NOT always non-toxic. If I ever used polish to close a wound I'd end up covered in blisters and rashes.

The rest of list is awesome.

Guest's picture

9. Use as a Band-Aid

When you’ve got a small cut — paper cut, hangnail, or other minute scratch — and you can’t find a Band-Aid, use clear nail polish as an alternative adhesive.

"Nail polish is nontoxic, and it works nearly the same as more expensive liquid adhesives."

Guest's picture

Clear nail polish can be used on keyboards. The polish can be applied to the keys so that the lettering won't rub off after a while.

Guest's picture

It can be used to fix small rips in a screen door.

Guest's picture

Nail polish IS toxic, it's got acetone in it, which is absorbed through the skin and can lead to cancers etc...

Guest's picture

It can be used to create Permanent Microscope Slides. This can be done easily by sealing the coverglass with clear nail polish so it doesn't slip off. Unlike those wet mounted ones which do.

Guest's picture

u can also use it as touch up paint on ur car... i used it for underneath the front fender from getting to close to the curb and scratching the underside. i matched the paint color near perfect and it was about $2 for the bottle vs $11 at the dealer !!

Guest's picture

As to #9 (and #10)... Most (if not all) nail polishes are toxic. They are designed to be applied to the external surface of the fingernail (and toenail) through which absorption into the bloodstream is hindered. Even if one chooses to use a 3 free (or even 5 free) polish, the affects of applying polish to an open wound havenot been studied. Do yourself a favor and rinse the wound with warm, soapy water and apply an adhesive bandage. If you believe that you have been in contact with infectious bacteria or if you have any other questions or concerns contact your physician, local health department or urgent care facility.

Guest's picture

I have been using it on chigger bites for over 60 years... works great for me.

Guest's picture

Use to fill screw holes. Dip toothpick or wooden match stick into nail polish. Drive wood into screw hole. Snap off extra wood. Apply nail polish to ends of wood and around inner edge of screw hole. Replace hinge. Screw into original hole. Allow finger nail polish to dry.

Guest's picture

​I also have a bad reaction to nail polish remover! I just use as little as posible, make sure to wash my hand after, and then I use the Lady Soma Nail treatment after washing my hands. I didnt used to use a moisturizer after nail polish remover, but its a must, because it will leave your hands looking tired

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