How To Take Off Acrylic Nails With Vinegar


How To Take Off Acrylic Nails With Vinegar? [Explained]



14 MIN READ | February 04, 2024

Getting rid of acrylic nails can be easy or hard based on the way you’d like to go with. Some opt for the most effective method i.e. acetone and some look for substitutes when acetone isn’t available or preferred. Think about the most common substitute and what could pop up in your mind? Should be vinegar.

The acidity of vinegar might be mild but it manages to separate the fake nails from natural ones. All it requires is to cover the acrylics with cotton ball soaked in vinegar and wrap them in a foil for around half an hour. This will make vinegar penetrate the fake nails and soften them so you can take them off.

The process is quite easy but it’s important to do it properly. Otherwise the acrylics won’t come off and you’ll be left with sore nails.

How Does Vinegar Remove Acrylic Nails?

How Does Vinegar Remove Acrylic Nails

Vinegar has mild acidic nature that works to soften the contents in acrylics and weaken the adhesive power.

Acrylic nails are usually made of liquid monomers and powder polymers. Some have to be blended to make a paste that’s hardened when cured and some are available in pre-made forms. No matter what the forms are, you stick them to the nail plate with an adhesive. Nail glues mostly contain ethyl cyanoacrylate and polymethyl methacrylate. All these chemicals disintegrate when they come in contact with acidic substance like vinegar.

Vinegar has 4-8% acetic acid that helps break down the structure of different compounds and substances making it a versatile ingredient. So, when it comes to acrylics, vinegar uses its acidic nature to penetrate the layers. Not only does the vinegar soften the molecules of acrylics but also loosens the bond between fake and natural nails.

The efficiency and duration depend on the acrylics, type of vinegar, whether vinegar is mixed with other products and which products are mixed. For instance, vinegar can affect adhesion effectively and quickly when mixed with acetone which helps remove acrylic nails more easily.

Although vinegar-water solution can also be used for the same purpose, it may just take longer time.

Step by Step Guide To Take Off Acrylic Nails by Using Vinegar

Guide To Take Off Acrylic Nails by Using Vinegar

Supplies Needed To Remove Acrylic Nails With Vinegar:

  1. Nail Clipper
  2. Nail filing tool
  3. White vinegar
  4. Bowl of water
  5. Cotton balls or pads
  6. Aluminum foil
  7. Cuticle oil or moisturizer
  8. Nail Strengthener

Step 1: Trim the Tip of Acrylics

Removing fake nails as much as possible can make the removal process easier. So, cut the tips down with nail clippers. Make sure to leave a little edge as it helps avoid cutting too close to the skin.

Step 2: File the Top Layers

The more the acrylic nails are filed off, the less time you have to soak in vinegar later. File the top layers of acrylic nails with tools like regular file, nail drill, medium-grit sanding bit or buffer to remove the shiny finish and thin them out. Work from the cuticle area and go down the free edge.

Avoid filing too deep into the natural nails and cause damage to them.

Step 3: Make the Vinegar Soak

Add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to a bowl of lukewarm water. Some may suggest rubbing alcohol or lemon with vinegar but they aren’t efficient enough to remove acrylic nails.

Step 4: Soak Cotton in Vinegar

Dip cotton pads or balls in the bowl to saturate them with vinegar. The ball should be wet, not drippy.

Step 5: Secure Wet Cotton on Nails in Place

Wrap the top of the nail with soaked cotton with aluminum foil and cover the entire area. This will help hold the moisture close to the acrylic nails and enhance the efficiency of vinegar.

Step 6: Wait for 20-30 Minutes

Let the wet cotton wraps sit on the acrylic nails for some time. It may take 20-30 minutes depending on adhesive power. In case the nails don’t soften, check them at 5 minute intervals.

Step 7: Scrape the Acrylics Off

As the acrylic nails soften, take out the wraps. Peel off the softened layer gently with a cuticle pusher or wooden stick.

Step 8: Clean and Moisturize

After taking them out, wash the hands thoroughly. This should remove all the vinegar residue. Apply cuticle oil or a moisturizer so it restores the moisture lost during acrylics removal.

What To Do If Acrylic Nails Don’t Come Off Using Vinegar?

Use pure acetone or nail file to take off acrylic nails if vinegar doesn’t work.

Vinegar is indeed efficient but it doesn’t guarantee 100% success. Sometimes it may not work if acrylic nails are super hard or adhesive power is very strong. In that case, there are multiple methods that can work well.

1. Pure acetone:

It breaks down the structure of acrylics and softens them faster and more effectively than other substitutes.

2. Alcohol:

Rubbing and isopropyl alcohol can be used to remove acrylic nails, but it may take longer than acetone. Using rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to gently scrub each nail as a method to remove acrylic nails. Isopropyl alcohol will work eventually, but it is just as drying to the skin as acetone. While acetone is the strongest solution for removing acrylic nails, rubbing alcohol can also be used effectively for this purpose. Isopropyl alcohol may take longer and can be drying to the skin, so it’s recommended to use moisturizer after the removal process.

3. Nail Filing Tool:

It removes the layers of acrylics and helps thin them out to the point where they can be softened easily when soaked in hot soapy water. However, it can be a lengthy process. There’s also the risk of damaging the natural nail plate. So, it’s recommended to have a nail technician do it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Vinegar Weaken Nails?

No. Vinegar doesn’t weaken nails but soaking them in the liquid for too long can make them extremely softer and prone to breaking.

As long as vinegar is used correctly, it can help treat nail fungus caused by fake or acrylic nails to some extent thanks to its antifungal properties.

How Do You Get Acrylic Nails Off Fast?

The fastest way to get acrylic nails off is to cover them with cotton soaked in 100% pure acetone, wrap them in aluminum foil and leave them for 10-20 minutes.

If you still feel some resistance after 20 minutes, soak the nails again for another 10 minutes. The acrylics should get softer by now.

Acetone helps break down the polymers and other chemicals in acrylics more quickly than other solvents.

Does Taking Off Acrylic Nails Hurt With Vinegar?

No, taking off acrylic nails shouldn’t hurt when using vinegar as long as you aren’t pulling too hard or don’t have an underlying infection.

In case it does hurt, then stop there immediately and try again later or go to an expert to let them do it safely.

How Long Acrylic Nails Last?

Acrylic nails should last anywhere from 2-8 weeks depending on the durability of acrylics, bonding power and maintenance.

However, it’s suggested to remove acrylic nails after 4 or 5 weeks to avoid discoloration, infection and any damage to the natural nail.

Final Words

Vinegar is quite effective when it comes to removing acrylic nails. The higher the acid level, the faster the process. Although you can pick any kind of vinegar for the job, white vinegar works best since it’s extremely acidic whereas apple cider vinegar can take longer time.

It’s suggested to mix vinegar only with water and not with anything else. Some solutions may involve lemon or rubbing alcohol with vinegar but adding them won’t work as their acidic content is too weak to help in the breakdown process acrylics.

Make sure to take care of the natural nails and follow aftercare instructions properly. Apply oil or moisturizer and massage it into the nails or cuticles so they stay hydrated. Use nail strengthener to make the nails stronger and healthier. Give them at least 1 week break before going with new acrylic nails.


Dylan Mustapich is a NYC-based lead esthetician who has been featured in New Beauty, Teen Vogue, Wired, and The Huffington Post. With a lifelong love of all things skin, he is incredibly knowledgeable about skincare ingredients, routine refinement, and personalized skincare, and follows emerging technology closely.

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