Is Nail Polish Remover Same as Rubbing Alcohol?

Last Updated on April 27, 2022 by SulaBeauty Staff

There is a possibility that you are out of nail polish remover, and you look it up on the internet for substitutes of nail polish remover, and you see Rubbing alcohol as one of them on an unknown website.

Now, you must be wondering if nail polish remover is the same as rubbing alcohol or not. After all, rubbing alcohol smells similar to nail polish remover; they both have a pungent smell.   

Is Nail Polish Remover Rubbing Alcohol?  


The answer to this question is No; nail polish remover is not the same as rubbing alcohol. However, most nail polish removers have isopropyl alcohol, a type of rubbing alcohol, but it’s not the only ingredient in nail polish removers.   

The main ingredient, i.e., Acetone, acts as an effective solvent that helps in removing nail polish from nails. As rubbing alcohol is not powerful enough to break down acrylics or nail polish formula.   

Most common ingredients in nail polish removers:  

Let’s have a look at some of the common ingredients available in a nail polish remover:  

  • Acetone  
  • Ethyl acetate  
  • Isopropyl alcohol  

So, two out of the three ingredients are a form of alcohol; one is ethyl acetate, which is an ester formulated from two components, i.e., ethanol and acetic acid. And the other is Isopropyl alcohol which is rubbing alcohol.   

 Acetone, the most powerful active ingredient included in nail polish remover, is a solvent that is considered way more effective than rubbing alcohol.   

Is Acetone the same as rubbing alcohol?  


No, Acetone is not the same as rubbing alcohol as the properties differ. Acetone is an effective solvent that helps soften nail polish from the nails and is effective in breaking down plastic or acrylic.   

 However, rubbing alcohol plays a vital part in the composition of nail polish remover, but it doesn’t help in breaking down nail polish on its own. With a few DIY tricks, we can use rubbing alcohol to remove nail paint, but there is just a temporary fix.   

Can Rubbing Alcohol Be Used as Nail Polish Remover?  


You can use rubbing alcohol as a nail polish remover to remove nail paint. However, I would like to remind you not to consider rubbing alcohol the same as a nail paint remover.  

Rubbing alcohol will not be as effective and instant in removing nail paint as nail polish remover is. The process will be slow and take you quite a long to remove nail paint from your nail bed. Thus, rubbing alcohol can be an excellent substitute for nail polish remover if you’re out of it. 

Pure Acetone + 99% Isopropyl Alcohol  


There are several products that include both bottles, i.e., 100% pure acetone and 99% Isopropyl alcohol. This bundle includes Acetone to remove nail polish and Isopropyl Alcohol or rubbing alcohol to clean the beauty tools and get rid of residual oils from nails so that the nail polish sticks better. 

However, if you are out of Pure Acetone, you can make use of rubbing alcohol instead. The removal process will take longer, you will have to keep wiping the nail polish off your nail bed slowly, and it will come off eventually.

You can also consider using high-strength drinking alcohol to remove nail paint or hand sanitizer; it can work too.

If you’re looking for a good quality pure acetone + 99% Isopropyl alcohol bundle then, I would recommend this one from Amazon by Eternal.

Other Substances That Can Be Used as Nail Polish Remover in place of rubbing alcohol?  


If you don’t have either nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol, you must be wondering what other household products can be used instead of rubbing alcohol.

Well, this is one of the frequently asked questions, and here are some of the household ingredients that you can use in place of a nail cleanser:  

1. Vinegar and Lemon Juice  

Let’s talk about one of the most common household ingredients that can be used to remove nail polish without nail polish remover. You can either use white Vinegar alone or mix both vinegar and lemon juice. The acetic acid present in white vinegar helps break down nail polish formulation.    

And when you mix Vinegar with lemon juice, you get citric acid from lemon juice that is proven to be an effective cleaner.

To use this product,

  • Mix both ingredients and
  • Soak your fingernails into the solution for about fifteen minutes.
  • And then, use a wipe/cotton ball to remove nail polish manually. 

2. Toothpaste  

Using baking soda-based toothpaste; is proven to be a good ingredient as a cleanser, but you can also use regular toothpaste. Also, toothpaste has ethyl acetate, one of the main ingredients in nail polish remover.

Therefore, apply toothpaste on your nails and leave it for a while and then, using a brush, paper towel, or cotton, wipe off the polish from your nails.   

It might take relatively longer to remove the polish this way, but it’s worth trying. Also, this method is more convenient than submerging your hand into a solution.   

3. Hydrogen Peroxide and Hot Water    

Hydrogen peroxide, a chemical commonly used in disinfectants and as a mild antiseptic to treat wounds or cuts, can be used to remove polish. You have to mix hydrogen peroxide with warm water in a ratio of 2:1, respectively, and then submerge your fingertips into the solution for about ten minutes. 

Then, gently try wiping off the nail polish using a cotton pad. It might not be as effective as the products mentioned above; however, you can use a nail file to get rid of the remaining stubborn layers of nail polish.  

Recommended Nail Paint Removers 


I am going to recommend some of the good quality nail polish removers that are available on Amazon – easily accessible and affordable. They are pretty efficient in removing nail paint from your nails: 

Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Thin Out Nail Polish?  


You can use rubbing alcohol to thin out nail paints; however, it won’t be as efficient as nail polish remover. Nail polish remover includes pure Acetone that majorly helps dissolve the nail polish quickly and effectively.

But with rubbing alcohol, the process will be slower, and you might even get tired of scrubbing off the nail paint. 

I would recommend that you choose rubbing alcohol only in times of urgency, or else you can use nail polish remover wipes to remove nail polish; they are very effective.   

You can also use OPI Nail Lacquer Thinner to thin out nail polish.

Why Does Alcohol Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?  


The pungent smell in nail polish removers is mainly caused by ethyl, an active ingredient present in the product. And in every ester formation, fermenting at a higher temperature will cause an increase in ester production.

And most alcohol-based products – beer and wine- have a similar funky smell due to the hot fermentation or as a sign of vinegar fermentation in wines.   

Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Gel Nails?  


You can use rubbing alcohol; however, it will not remove gel nail polish. Rubbing alcohol is not efficient enough to remove regular polish; it will only get more complex to remove gel nails with rubbing alcohol as they are harder to remove.

Even 100% acetone is not efficient enough to remove gel nails; it takes quite along. 

But you can use rubbing alcohol to clear gel nails that are not cured. Once the gel nails or soak off gel nails are cured, there is no way you can remove them using this product.

You will need Acetone to do the job. If you don’t want to waste your time and efforts, use nail polish remover to completely remove gel nails.

And even better, try this amazing gel polish remover that can help remove gel polish, Polygel, UV gel nails. 

See also – Gel polish or regular polish – which is better for your nails?

Why Does the Nail Polish Remover Evaporates So Fast?  


The main ingredient in nail polish remover is Acetone, which plays a significant role in removing the nail polish. However, Acetone is a good solvent known to have a boiling point lower than water, i.e., 56 degrees which means it can evaporate at room temperature quickly.

Thus, if you leave the cap open, there is a high chance that the nail polish remover will evaporate.   

The higher the acetone percentage in a nail polish remover, the faster it will evaporate. For instance, 100% acetone will vanish in less than 10 seconds if left open and unattended.   

Can You Use Vodka Instead of a Slip Solution When Using Polygel?  


You can use Vodka instead of a slip solution when using Polygel. As Isopropyl alcohol, a type of rubbing alcohol is the main ingredient in a slip solution; therefore, any form of alcohol, including Vodka, can be used as a substitution. 

You will be able to mold and maneuver the polygel by dipping the brush into Vodka. As Vodka is considered 40% alcohol, it should be able to do the trick.  

Will Nail Polish Remover Ruin Your Clothes?  


Yes, nail polish removers are likely to ruin clothes. The chemicals involved in these removers, if spilled, can cause a bleaching effect or a chemical reaction on fabrics that are more prone to losing their color. It also depends a lot on the type of fabric and the color used in the material. 

The nail polish remover could bleed out the color, and the resulting might look like a stain. So yes, it can ruin your clothes depending on the fabric material.  You will have to make use of deep cleaning applications like stain remover to fix the stain.  

Does Hand Sanitizer Remove Nail Polish?  


Hand sanitizers are considered a substitute for polish removers if you are out of them. Sanitizers are deemed to have some percentage of alcohol in their formula to help kill germs and bacteria.

Therefore, it can be used to remove nail paints as well. Take some sanitizer on a cotton pad and try wiping the nail paint with it, it will take some time, but it will come off to some extent if the alcohol percentage is high in the hand sanitizer.   

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