DIY

10 Ways You Can Use Cheap Old Nail Polish To Totally Transform Your Home

Laura by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Most people have given themselves a manicure at least once. Maybe you only do it on fancy occasions like holidays and parties, or maybe you love switching up your nail color every week.

For a lot of people, painting their nails is an easy and fun way to add a pop of color into their lives and outfits.

But if you like painting your nails, you might find that over the years, you’ve acquired some colors you just don’t use anymore — while some makeup techniques offer timeless looks, others… well, not so much.

Maybe you stocked up on some bright-blue shimmery shades that were all the rage back in the day but now just make your fingertips look frostbitten.

Or maybe you’re over your glam phase, but you still have a lot of dark burgundies and sultry reds left over in your drawer. Maybe you’re just done with painting your nails, but don’t want to waste all that polish.

Well, you’re in luck. Nail polish is essentially enamel, a tough, waterproof lacquer that holds up pretty well on all kinds of surfaces, not just your nails.

And while you might not find use for the whole bottle of shimmery royal-blue polish, it’s a good idea to hang on to a couple of colors, preferably bright and varied ones, as they can be great for labeling things with some quick color coding.

But there’s way more that you can do, too. And definitely save your clear nail polish! It can be a perfect secret weapon for all kinds of things.

Read on to discover how to use nail polish around the house, taking it from a little luxury to a big help!

Thumbnail Photo: Flickr

Nail Polish Use #1: Make Matches Waterproof

Nail Polish Use #1: Make Matches Waterproof
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

You probably never thought nail polish and camping would go together, did you?

Matches don’t work if they get wet, so coating their heads with some polish is a great idea if you think you might get caught in a damp situation.

The polish can be scraped off on the striking surface, exposing the dry emulsion underneath and allowing it to ignite. Nail polish will burn, too.

Nail Polish Use #2: Tighten A Screw

Nail Polish Use #2: Tighten A Screw
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

If a screw keeps coming loose, stick it in place with a coat of clear polish.

It will help bond it to the surface and prevent it from coming loose as easily.

And since the polish is clear, the fix won’t be easy to spot!

Nail Polish Use #3: Prevent Costume Jewelry From Turning

Nail Polish Use #3: Prevent Costume Jewelry From Turning
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

We all have a favorite piece of cheapo jewelry we love to wear.

But cheap metal tarnishes. This not only looks bad, it can also leave a gross green stain on your skin.

Keep the metal shiny and your skin tarnish-free by applying a thin coat of clear polish to the metal, especially the surface that touches your skin.

Nail Polish Use #4: Fix An Unraveled Shoelace

Nail Polish Use #4: Fix An Unraveled Shoelace
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Just as threading a frayed thread through a needle can be tough, so is trying to push a frayed shoelace through a grommet. Here’s where nail polish can help, though.

Dip the frayed end of the shoelace into the polish and let dry. If the neck of the polish bottle is too narrow, try pouring some out onto waxed paper and rolling the end of the lace in it.

Let it dry, and it will take the place of the plastic tip.

(Fun fact: The plastic bit at the end of a shoelace is called an aglet.)

Nail Polish Use #5: Organize Your Keys

Nail Polish Use #5: Organize Your Keys
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

If you have keys that all look similar, you can color code them to make things easier.

Simply paint the top of the keys with some bright polish and let dry. You can seal it with a clear top coat, too, just like you would your nails.

The color coding will help you pick out the right key for the right door much more quickly and without all the trial and error.

Nail Polish Use #6: Thread A Needle

Nail Polish Use #6: Thread A Needle
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

As we’ve mentioned, threading a needle can be especially hard if the end of the thread is frayed. A quick swipe of clear polish can help keep it all together, though.

It will also stiffen the painted portion of the thread, which will make it even easier to pass through the needle’s eye than simply wetting it.

Nail Polish Use #7: Touch Up Small Dings

Nail Polish Use #7: Touch Up Small Dings
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Nail polish is enamel, and so it works just like most other enamel paints, including car paint.

If you get a small scratch in an enameled item, including your car, you can do a quick touch-up job with nail polish in a matching color.

This is really only good for smaller scratches and dings, but it’s great in a pinch!

Nail Polish Use #8: Smudge Proof A Label

Nail Polish Use #8: Smudge Proof A Label
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

The ink on labels can smear and wear off over time, and when it comes to things where the information is important (such as medications), nail polish can keep things legible.

A coat of clear polish over the label will keep the ink from smearing or wearing off. This is especially great for travel, when things are more likely to get knocked around.

Nail Polish Use #9: Stop A Run In Your Tights

Nail Polish Use #9: Stop A Run In Your Tights
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Laddered tights are always awful and can ruin any outfit.

Luckily, a dab of clear polish over the snag will create a seal on the tights’ fibers and will stop the run from spreading.

Nail Polish Use #10: Decorate Just About Anything

Nail Polish Use #10: Decorate Just About Anything
Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Nail polish is for decoration and painting, but you don’t have to limit it to just your nails!

It works great for flower pots, glasses and mugs, vases, phone cases, and pretty much anything you can imagine!

What’s your favorite nail polish look? Have you ever used nail polish for anything other than your nails?

Let us know in the comments and SHARE these tips with anyone who doesn’t know what to do with all those bottles of polish!