How to Clean Stained Gel Nails

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Discover 5 ways to clean stained gel nails

Gel nails have become one of the most popular style manicures and everyone’s go-to nails. Many people prefer gel nails as they cause less damage to your natural nails than other types of manicures; however, there are always issues you may have with the kind of manicure you get.

A common thing that you may have to deal with gel nails is that they are easily stained or end up changing colour. With this comes the popular questions of how to clean stained gel nails?

The most popular way to clean stained gel nails is to use a cotton bud soaked in nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol. However, many different methods can help get rid of stains on nails so, here are five methods of how to clean stained gel nails.

Why are your nails getting stained?

There are various reasons why your gel nails are getting stained, so it would be difficult to pinpoint what is causing the stains; however, there are a few common reasons. 

The few frequent reasons we see that are causing your gel nails to get stained include things such as; poor quality products, some foods, for example, curries, exposure to chemicals, smoking, or hair dying.

Although the reasons are not limited to the ones mentioned, they are frequent reasons why some people’s gel nails end up being stained.

If you have this problem, check to see if any of these may have caused your staining; if so, you will look at ways to prevent getting stains later on in the post.

How to clean stained gel nails

Here are five different methods to try and help remove the staining from your gel nails. Each of these methods is easy, and all use items you may already have in your home.

1. Nail polish remover/ rubbing alcohol

If you have slight, mild staining, then this would be a good method to try. Using nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol works best as soon as the stains appear, so the quicker you can use this, the better results you’ll get.

Soak a cotton bud in either nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and lightly rub it on the stained area. You must be very gentle; otherwise, it can cause you to remove your gel nail polish.

An essential tip for using nail polish remover is, make sure it doesn’t have acetone in it as it will remove the gel polish and end up running your manicure.

2. Lemon and baking soda

Baking soda together is a mild bleaching agent, and when mixed with lemon juice, it helps to tackle the stain very quickly. 

To remove any stains on your gel nails, you need to:

Add two tablespoons of water to a bowl.

To that water, squeeze about one tablespoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of baking soda.

Mix this all together until you have a thick paste consistency. It should resemble a bowl of icing sugar.

Once you get to the right consistency, dip your fingers into the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.

If you don’t want to dip your fingers in it or there’s a specific finger you wish to remove a stain from, dip a cotton pad into the mixture and softly rub the stained area.

Once the stain has lifted, wash your hands in fresh water and gently scrub your nails to get the excess off. 

3. Hairspray

This method can be used if you’ve had stains on your nails for a while or if you’ve tried the previous methods and they haven t been as effective.

Before you start, cover your area with a towel to protect your area from any damage.

Place your hand on the towel, and begin to spray your nails; use a generous amount.

Once your nails have all been covered and are wet, gently scrub the stains using a cotton bud.

When you have been able to revoke them, wash your hands using water and soap to make sure you’ve got all the remaining hairspray off.

4. Tea tree oil/coconut oil

Tea tree is a natural stain remover, so this is perfect for trying on your gel nails.

Add two tablespoons of tea tree oil to a bowl of water filled up about a quarter of the way.

Leave your fingers in there to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. 

After the time, remove your hands and rub your nails with the water and oil left on your hands.

Wash your hands once finished.

It is important to note that this isn’t a quick fix; depending on how bad the stain is, you will need to repeat this every day until the string has gone.

With coconut oil, soak a cotton ball in for a few seconds until it has absorbed it.

Rub the cotton ball over your nails until it starts to work and removes the stain from your gel nails.

Again, this may need to be repeated as it may not work on the first use.

5. Scrub it off

If you can catch the stain as soon as it happens, for example, if you are eating foods with vibrant colours or using certain make-up products, you may be able to remove the stains by scrubbing it off.

Start by washing your hands normally with soap and water.

Before you wash off the soap, scrub your nails with your other hand. Place your nails on the palm of your other or your knuckles and begin a scrubbing motion.

Keep doing this until the stains have gone; you may need to do this a couple of times.

Tips to stop your gel nails getting stained.

1. Regularly apply top coat

When you get your nails done, it is an assumption that the topcoat will protect your nails for the duration you have them, but this is not entirely the case.

Yes, they do protect your manicure, but daily, there are many things that you would do to your nails without you realising. You wipe different products on them, knock them on things all the time, and they wear down.

Applying a topcoat regularly will give it extra protection and an extra layer to get through before it can damage the color gel. 

Depending on how durable your manicures usually are, you can apply a top every three to five days if they don’t last very long. If they last quite well, then you can top up your topcoat every one to two weeks.

2. Use good quality products

If you are doing your nails from home, you may not have the best quality products. This may not be your fault, but certain brands may not be as great quality as the product used in a nail salon as they are for professional use.

The quality of the products can cause your nails to stains, so before you buy anything to do your manicure at home, do your research to find the best products.

Price may not always show quality, so don’t expect the more expensive brands to be of higher quality. Also, on the flip side, don’t buy products based on the lower price.

If you are going to do your nails from home, choosing the cheapest options isn’t going to give you that salon finish and could be the reason why your nails are staining easy. So it is crucial to research your products.

3. Use gloves

If you are eating particular foods that cause stains, you’re using cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals, or if you are dying hair, using gloves will be a huge part in preventing your nails from being stained.

Gloves create a barrier between your nails and the product, which causes the stain, which protects your nail from being stripped, ruining the colour. 

It may seem like a bit of a hassle putting on gloves every time you eat something that has a deep colour, or you decide to do some cleaning, but this is the easiest and most straightforward way to keep your gel nails from getting damaged.

If you decide to wear gloves, keep your hands and nails moisturised and hydrated, as wearing gloves regularly can dry your hands put. Also, moisturising your hands will keep your nails looking fresher for longer and help keep them in the best condition possible.


So, there are a few reasons why your gel nails are getting stained and how you can prevent this from happening. I hope these five ways to clean stained gel nails were useful. 

Although many of us think that we can do gel nails ourselves, going to a salon to get them done is the best option as they do have the right products and know the correct timings for curing your gel manicure. 

If you try to use these methods and don’t give you the best results, then going back to the salon is the best option for you.

It’s important to remember that these methods are a quick fix if you’ve just stained them or you want to make your nails look a little bit more presentable in their last few days, but going to a nail salon will give you the best possible results as they have professional methods.

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