How To Empty Nail Polish Bottles

No matter how much we use nail polish, we can never seem to empty the bottle. The nail polish inside usually becomes sticky, clumpy, and generally unusable. Although old nail polish itself can't be used, you can still reuse that bottle as long as you can empty it out. That's why we've done the research in order to explain how to empty that bottle of nail polish.

Nail polish bottles can be emptied by using acetone or nail polish remover since acetone can thin and break down nail polish. Simply add the acetone to the bottle, shake it up, then dispose of the nail polish properly.

Can you clean nail polish bottles after emptying them? How should you dispose of the nail polish? What about reusing the bottle? Can you restore half-empty nail polish? For the answers to these questions and more, please continue reading.

Transparent nail Polish. Concept of a beauty salon, manicure, How To Empty Nail Polish Bottles

Can You Clean Nail Polish Bottles?

You can clean nail polish bottles using nail polish remover and acetone. But before you do so, there is something that you should be aware of regarding the ingredients that are found in nail polish.

Nail polish contains ingredients such as formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, and others. Although these ingredients are not harmful to humans, as long as the nail polish is used as directed, they can cause harm to the environment if they aren't disposed of properly.

Because of all the chemicals they contain, nail polish and nail polish remover are considered to be household hazardous waste. It should not be poured down the sink under any circumstances. You shouldn't throw it into the trash can either.

The best way to dispose of nail polish is to pour it into a glass jar with a lid. When the jar is full, take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility so you can dispose of it properly.

How Do You Clean Sticky Nail Polish Bottles?

Cotton pads with cotton swabs and nail polish remover

It's actually very easy to empty and clean any polish bottle, even the sticky ones. To clean a nail polish bottle, you'll need the following materials:

  • Small funnel
  • Acetone/nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Small paintbrush
  • Paper towels

Remove the Label

The first thing you'll want to do is remove the label, especially if you want to reuse the bottle. The label should be easy to peel off, but it may leave behind a sticky residue. You can remove the residue by using acetone or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball.

Empty The Nail Polish

Next, open the nail polish bottle and place the funnel into the opening. Add enough acetone to fill ⅓ to ½ the bottle, depending on how much nail polish is left inside it. Put the lid back on the bottle and shake it thoroughly to mix the acetone into the nail polish.

The acetone will work to thin and break down the sticky nail polish, making it easier to pour out. Once the nail polish has thinned into a pourable liquid, pour it into a glass jar. Remember not to pour it down the sink or into the trash can. You can add more acetone if necessary to remove any nail polish that is left behind.

Clean The Rim

After emptying all of the nail polish, the inside of the bottle should be completely clean. But, the rim of the bottle will likely still have sticky nail polish residue on it. You can remove it by soaking a cotton ball in acetone.

Rub the soaked cotton ball around the rim to remove the nail polish. You can also soak the tip of a cotton swab in acetone and use it to remove sticky nail polish from any areas that are hard to get to.

Clean The Lid

Clean the inside of the lid to remove sticky nail polish by dipping a small paintbrush into acetone. Then, use the paintbrush to clean the inside of the lid by sweeping the brush around. Wipe the paintbrush on a paper towel in between each sweep to remove the nail polish from the paintbrush. Repeat until the inside of the lid is completely clean.

Clean The Brush

If you intend to reuse the nail polish brush, you can clean it by simply dipping it in acetone or nail polish remover. Rub the brush on a paper towel to remove the nail polish, and repeat until you remove all of the polish from the brush. Note that it may be hard to remove all of the sticky nail polish from the brush with darker polish colors.

See More: Does Nail Polish Remover Stain Clothes?

How To Reuse Empty Nail Polish Bottles

Empty Nail polish Bottle

Even though they are small glass bottles, empty nail polish bottles can be hard to recycle. Instead of just throwing them away, there are several creative ways to reuse them.

Travel-Size Nail Products

Sometimes you go on a trip but don't want to take the whole bottle of nail polish remover. Instead, you can pour a small amount into an empty nail polish bottle. It will easily fit into your cosmetic bag and take up less space. You can do this for cuticle oil and other nail products as well.

Make Your Own Nail Polish

Some people prefer to make their own nail polish at home, and you can start doing this too. Using empty bottles from old nail polish to store your homemade nail polish can help you save money. That way, you don't have to buy new bottles.

Store Loose Cosmetic Products

Sometimes loose cosmetics such as glitter, sequins, pigments, and the like come in plastic bags. Even though these bags are often resealable, they can be difficult to pour the product out of without making a mess. Those plastic bags also don't look very attractive on your vanity.

Why not put those loose cosmetics in empty nail polish bottles instead? They will be easier to pour out of the container or apply with a brush. They will also be more secure to close and look more attractive when not in use.

Mini Flower Vases

There are a lot of beautiful flowers that have short stems. They don't fit in a tall vase, so you can use empty nail polish bottles instead. It will be a great way to repurpose the nail polish bottle and add a little color and beauty to your home as well.

How Do You Use Half-Empty Nail Polish Bottles?

old used dirty nail polish bottle on wood cement background,image

It seems impossible to use a whole bottle of nail polish, especially when there are so many new colors and trends to try out. If you have a bunch of half-empty bottles, they're likely to have thickened, and the colors may have separated from each other, especially if you haven't used them in a while.

You can always empty out those half-empty bottles and reuse them in one of the ways above. But before you do that, you may be able to get a little more use out of the nail polish. Here are some things you can do to bring that nail polish consistency back to normal. 

Shake It Up

If the colors of your nail polish have just separated, you can mix them back up by shaking the bottle thoroughly. Most nail polish bottles have a little metal ball inside of them to help mix the pigments together. Lighter shades will mix better than darker shades, so you may have to shake longer for darker colors.

Add Nail Polish Thinner

If your nail polish is thick and gloopy, you can bring it back to its normal consistency by using nail polish thinner. Depending on how thick the polish is, you'll usually only need a couple of drops. Then, just shake the bottle to mix it up.

Click here to see this nail polish thinner on Amazon.

Add Hot Water

If you don't have nail polish thinner, you can also add a few drops of hot water to the bottle. This will help restore the polish to its normal consistency and make it easier to apply. As with the nail polish thinner, just shake the polish up after adding water to mix it in.

See more: 23 Types Of Nail Polish And Finishes

What Can You Do With Empty Nail Polish Remover Bottles?

Woman's hand removing pink nail polish with white cotton pad on towel. Closeup.

What you can do with empty nail polish remover bottles depends on what material they're made of. If the bottles are made of glass, you can reuse them in a similar way that you would reuse empty nail polish bottles. But if the bottles are made of plastic, you can recycle them instead of throwing them away.


You can empty nail polish bottles by simply adding a little acetone to the bottle to thin the nail polish. You can also use acetone to clean up the outside of the bottle and the brush. Just remember not to pour the nail polish down the sink or into the trash. Once emptied, there are plenty of ways to reuse those bottles instead of throwing them away. Thanks for reading!

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