Introduction: Unusual Uses for Nail Polish

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I have a lot of nail polish. Some I wear, some I keep around for random projects or other uses. Here are some of my favorite unusual uses for nail polish.

Step 1: Prevent Tarnishing

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A lot of the charms you find in beading stores are listed as silver, Tibetan silver, or Bali silver---this really just means plain, cheap metal alloy that WILL tarnish. I've found that coating these charms in clear nail polish extends their life. Adding a new coat every so often will further help to stave off unsightly tarnish.

You can also coat the inside of your rings to keep them from turning your finger green.

Step 2: Securing Screws

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Nail polish can help secure loose screws or screws that are constantly wiggling out. Polish will also help prevent against rust/tarnishing.

Step 3: Cracks and Scratches

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Polish can be used to fill in scrapes and scratches in wood furniture. Clear is probably your best bet as I'd imagine it'd be hard to match up wood coloring.

Clear or white nail polish can also be used for sealing chips in china. The polish can help prevent further damage by keeping water from getting to the chips and causing cracks.

Step 4: Color Coordination/Identification

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Nail polish can help you easily identify keys, electronics cords, and more!

I've also used nail polish to write my initials inside staplers, hole punchers and other things to prevent them from going missing.

Step 5: Loose Buttons

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Apply a coat of clear polish over the thread of a loose button to secure it.

Step 6: Labels

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Apply clear nail polish to homemade labels to keep them from smudging or wearing off too quickly. Polish can also be water resistant, to a point. You will need to reseal every so often.

As previously mentioned, I'll also use colorful polishes to add my name to objects that tend to go missing in my classroom.

Step 7: Matches

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Covering the tips of matches can help protect them against moisture, therefore extending their life (and not leaving you freezing in the woods when camping).

Step 8: Screens

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Have a window screen with holes? Bugs starting to get in? Cover the holes with nail polish to prevent the screen from becoming more damaged and keep bugs out!

Step 9: Scuff Marks

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Keep your shoes looking fresh by using matching nail polish to touch up any markings. If you can't finding matching colors, use nail polish to add a little flair and decorate your shoes.

Step 10: Pranks

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Cover a bar of soap in clear nail polish to prank your friends :-D

This doesn't ruin the soap and after a few attempts at washing, the polish will wear off.


Mom3critters (author)2017-09-19

After reading more of the comments, I have a new saying. "With duct tape and nail polish, I can fix anything."

Not_Tasha (author)Mom3critters2017-09-19

lol I'm also finding that to be true

Mom3critters (author)2017-09-19

I make a lot of my own jewelry and use clear nail polish to seal it. As I have gotten older my body chemistry has evidently changed. Now I have problems unless it is sterling silver or stainless steel, or at least 10 caret gold, my skin destroys the finish down to the base metal.

philslizzy (author)2017-09-18

I use clear nail polish to fix microscope specimens onto a slide. Drop the polish on top of the specimen and gently lower a cover slip onto it. The cover slip will push the polish to the edge filling the space between it and the slide. Don't push it down as this will cause bubbles. I don't expect this method will last as long as a proper Canada balsam slide but I've got several that are a decade old and still looking good.

Julezee (author)2017-08-22

I love finding bargain jewelry that have great potential if painted a more fashion savvy color. I collect and put together my own combinations and paint with colors I love and wear.

wchen8 (author)2017-07-31

To water proof bandages on fingers when you need to do washing.

ldubia (author)2017-07-27

I found a large collection of all kinds of nail polish at a yard sale. I use in paintings. Sometimes I will mix it with a medium and see what it does for the painting. Experimentation is fun.

Not_Tasha (author)ldubia2017-07-31

That sounds really cool and like a really interesting Instructable :)

UncleEd (author)2017-07-28

This Instructable seems to be bringing out some more "mature" readers.

Almost 70 years ago, I received a plastic put-together model of a Model T roadster for a birthday. The instructions suggested clear nail polish if you didn't have model airplane glue, so that's what we used.

Not_Tasha (author)UncleEd2017-07-31

This Instructable has the most comments and sparked the most conversation of all the Instructables I've done lol

I'm surprised nail polish could hold model parts together, though I can definitely see painting over glued parts.

bpark1000 (author)2017-07-28

Use it for circuit board resist. For that, green color is best (shows against the copper), diluted with thinner. For wide traces, draw it directly on. For thin traces, color in an area, let dry, and scribe where the copper is to be etched away.

Not_Tasha (author)bpark10002017-07-31

Oooh that's a good idea

samchamb (author)2017-07-31

Yes clear is good for waterproofing printed lables and holds the smaller ones in place .

Costa Rica (author)2017-07-28

I live in Costa Rica and my kids come back from playing with ringworm at times. Clear nail polish on the ringworm will stop itch and kill off the ringworm. Needs to be applied several times a day until disappeared

mrsmerwin (author)2017-07-28

I have a key ring with 2 keys that look alike. This will be a perfect fix. I will also try the loose button trick at my next opportunity. Thanks for the ideas.

MartinTovert (author)2017-07-28

Put 2 dots of polish on the tap and you have Always the right temerature

JorritJ (author)2017-07-28

It is great to weather-proof some electrical connections. I used it on the bottom exposed PCBs on my quadcopter. There were some LEDs touching the ground when I land in grass. A touch of clear coat on the solder joints prevents the connections from shorting out, when I land in wet grass.

hirudo (author)2017-07-27

My family have a fishing store and we frequently have to replace rings on fishing rods (poles in the US) these are whipped on with thread and a coating of nail varnish in the correct colour finishes them off perfectly.

stllbrown (author)2017-06-27

Be careful when using it on shoes or wood. There can be quite a range of reactions depending on the chemicals used on the products. Also, I was told that fingernail polish over a mosquito bite stopped itching. And it does! But after a day or so the cracking of the polish starts to itch horribly. :-)

Not_Tasha (author)stllbrown2017-06-27

I actually had a roommate in college who suggested this for chiggers. I was going to add it, but upon further research it seemed like maybe not a great idea since it could cause allergic reactions etc.

Imerrymary2 (author)Not_Tasha2017-07-05

60 years ago we used clear nail polish on chigger bites. It worked very well and would crack off after some serious sweaty play-time. By then the bites were beyond the itchy stage. I never heard of anyone with an allergic reaction. I don't remember trying it on mosquito bites because the theory was that chiggers burrow into the skin and were suffocated by the seal made by nail polish. Skeeter bites are different and I think nail polish probably wouldn't be helpful.

Aprileg (author)Imerrymary22017-07-27

We used to use polish for the chiggers too. And that is exactly what we grew up being told is that the polish smothers them! None of us ever broke out from it.

Syncubus (author)Aprileg2017-07-27

It's a myth that chiggers burrow into the skin. They don't, so 'smothering' them with a seal of nail polish is also fictitious. Whether nail polish relieves itching from a chigger bite is the question.

Aprileg (author)Syncubus2017-07-27

Yes, I know this now as an adult. With the internet I was able to check into this years ago, but this is what our parents always told us. I do know from experience that it does work as far as relieving the itch and healing it faster and that it doesn't work on mosquito bites. I've never been able to find an answer for this, but then again..... as long as it works !!!

juno826 (author)Not_Tasha2017-07-27

I've done it a lot of times and it really does work. It smothers the chigger....

38ren (author)stllbrown2017-06-27

wow I've never heard about that trick before... interesting :) but if the nail polish itself starts to itch isn't it pointless? haha

Robbyg52 (author)2017-07-27

As a contractor of retail stores I often would find scratches, at the last minute, in the laminated countertops, door surrounds and signage. I found that the cosmetic departments of many department stores carry an extensive line of nail polish and lipstick. Most of the time I was able to find a shade of polish or lipstick that would match the surface with the scratch thereby enabling me to economically fix the boo boo.

RastaWife (author)2017-07-27

I woke up one Saturday morning to find that my son had painted battalions of green plastic dollar store army men using my collection of nail polishes . . . they were staged all over my living room. Pretty creative kid . . .

waddoyouwant (author)2017-07-27

because the color particles and 'metal flakes' are so small in most nail polishes a lot of professional model builders use nail polish to paint scale model cars. To spray the polish you just need the right thinner & then use your spray set up as usual. An added bonus is, there are a lot more shades of nail polish than model paint.

snafumetoo (author)2017-07-27

I use the wifes brightest color fast drying polish to mark my starting link on my chainsaw sharping rotation.

rottndachs (author)2017-07-27

Stop a run in nylon pantyhose. Not that anyone wears them much. I love the soap prank. Mwahaha

wyldecent (author)rottndachs2017-07-27

Yes, I've used nail polish for runs in hose for years and did my mom -- it's an oldie but goodie. Make sure to use clear polish.

IamTedV (author)2017-07-27

I use to work as a tech for a
Theatre company and had keys to ten different sites. I went out and bought a different color for each site. I cleaned the keys with rubbing alcohol to remove any oil film, painted the heads of the keys and then made a rack from a metal coat hanger. I hung the keys from the rack and popped them in the oven at 250° for about a hour. Not only did the oven dry the nail polish, but it also made it very hard. In the ten years that I worked there afterwards, I never had to recoat any of the keys!

I also used the nail polish to lock nuts onto screws. Just a dab of bright color polish between the screw and the nut would lock it, but make it easily removeable down the road. It also served as a way to detect tampering. If someone else tried to adjust something, they would break the nail polish bond and rarely have any bright yellow polish with them to cover their tracks! Plus at a glance, you can see if the polish has been broken, showing if there has been tampering.

sboykin (author)IamTedV2017-07-27

These are absolutely genius! Thanks for sharing! :)

stefy (author)2017-07-27

My brother-in-law used it to colour the terminal connections on his trailer lights on the male and female side of the connectors. This is so if the connector falls apart when you're out and about you will know which pin goes in which position and have fighting chance of getting trailer lights working.

thanrose (author)2017-07-27

Speaking from experience, I've never found painting nail polish on metal eye glass bows to be more than a temporary fix for corroded metal. But if you only need it a short time...

I'll use nail polish to crisp up a thread or yarn for poking through the eye of a needle.

It secures knots in macramé.

Seals the end of paracord.

Can replace a missing plastic aglet.

Reinforce the hole for a lost grommet or eyelet.

Protect a frequently used key on some devices, or highlight a key on others.

Use as paint on washers or keys or other metal objects for windchimes, although the enamel will affect the tone. I would only use it on areas less likely to strike. On jewelry charms, use it any which way.

When coating both sides of an item with enamel, suspend from fishing line or a bent paper clip.

Multiple coats and a month long cure needed for a thick gloss, although I may try the heat cure IamTedV used in theater production...

caseyst (author)2017-07-27

My favorite nail polish trick is one that's saved me actual pain. Lots of cheap jewelry, belt buckles, etc. are made with nickel and if you have an allergy to it it's going to cause a painful rash. Just coat the offending metal object in clear nail polish and let it dry, then you can go back to wearing your belt, or your bracelet, rings, whatever you want. It will last a long time and you can just reapply as needed.

wumpsdad (author)2017-07-05

Seal broken nickel plating on supermagnets to prevent oxidative breakdown.

salrom (author)wumpsdad2017-07-27

I did this but it makes the magnet stick to surfaces even months after it was painted and the nail polish leaves a rough surface and dents. I dont know if it was the type of nail polish I used but it didn't seem to harden as hadr as a metal finish.

thanrose (author)2017-07-27

Same idea as labeling and the key ID, but I use different colors to dab a dot on the pots and pans and their matching lids. Some lids fit several pans, etc. I wouldn't use it in very high heat or in the microwave just because I'm not sure how that would work and have no need to try. Also do that with some storage containers.

BobK71 (author)2017-06-28

Fishermen use it as a waterproof glue for fly tying and emergency fishing rod fixes.

It can also be used as a temporary fix for deep scratches in your car's paint to delay rust from forming.

monicalewis (author)BobK712017-07-27

The above Fly Tying is correct as my brother makes his own flies for fishing. He is up the stairs in our craft room at the minute making his flies for his fishing day on Sunday.

photony (author)2017-07-27

put a DROP of color on the UP side of a USB'll never spin a USB plug again!

maynardjam (author)2017-07-27

As I am get more "optically challenged", I need more help in the garage. I used bright red nail polish to identify sizes on my sockets and wrench handles.
Also, if you trim the polish brush at an angle, you can make finer lines and letters. Or trim a watercolor paint brush.

APteH (author)2017-07-27

A small drop on that little screws of your glasses and the screws won't come out anymore.

38ren (author)2017-06-27

I love the one where you used it to fix screens, I have a broken one at home I'll have to try it out!

Not_Tasha (author)38ren2017-06-27

The picture was really hard to do, but it does work. We have cats so screens are frequently getting poked.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to ... More »
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