Dip Powder Removal Made Easy (and Acetone-Free) With These Tips

Wanna know how to remove dip powder nails without acetone?

Then you’re in the right place.

In this post, I’m going to share a few tried and tested ways to remove dip powder nails without using any harsh chemicals.

So let’s get straight into how to remove dip powder nails without acetone, shall we?

Why avoid acetone?

Acetone might be fast and effective for getting dip acrylic nails off, but it can seriously dry out your nail plates.

Not to mention your cuticles and the skin around your nails, too.

If dry, flaky skin and brittle nails are getting you down, you might wanna steer clear of acetone and opt for a gentler method instead.

The acetone-free methods in this post all work best on dip acrylic nails that are around 3 weeks old.

They do take a little more time and effort, but I think it’s worth it to keep your natural nails nice and healthy.

If your fresh application of dip powder went wrong, then I’d recommend busting out the nail drill or e-file.

That way you can either smooth things out or remove them and start again without having to use acetone.

How to remove dip nails using a drill

The quickest, easiest, and most efficient way to remove dip powder nails without acetone is by using a nail drill (or an e-file), trust me on this one!

When it comes to removing acrylic nails, whether they are dip nails or applied using monomer, a nail drill is my secret weapon.


Because nail drills save you so much time and work.

Drills take a little bit of getting used to at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Trust me, these things are a game changer for removing stuff. They make the whole process so much smoother.

Don’t have a nail drill yet?

Here’s a super stylish salon-quality nail drill from melodysusie that I can highly recommend.

stylish nail drill https://nailhow.com/how-to-remove-dip-powder-nails-without-acetone/

If you are new to nail drills, you’ll want to go slowly and carefully at first.

One of the reasons I like the above nail drill is because you can completely control the power.

It has an LED screen that shows you the rotation speed.

nail drill rotation speed https://nailhow.com/how-to-remove-dip-powder-nails-without-acetone/

This means that you can gradually increase the speed/power as you get more confident.

What you’ll need for the nail drill method:

To do your nails like a pro, you’ll need a few tools:

  • A nail drill or E-file
  • A course ceramic drill bit (this should come with the nail drill set)
  • The mandrel drill bit attachment (also included in the set)
  • A selection of sanding bands, from coarse to fine
  • Nail clippers or tip-cutting tool
  • Cuticle nippers (not necessary, but handy for removing nail gems and 3D nail art).

Steps to follow for the nail drill removal method:

Here’s what you need to do to take off your dip powder nails using the nail drill.

  • Cut them down with straight-edge nail clippers or a tip-cutting tool, just watch out for your natural nails cuz that can hurt.
  • Use cuticle nippers (an old pair works great) to remove any nail gems or art. Don’t use new ones because they’ll go dull fast. If you’ve got tiny gems that are tough to remove, use your nail drill to file them down.
  • Use a coarse sanding band on your mandrel drill bit to take off any extra length and make the edges smooth.
  • Use the same coarse band to remove any nail polish. Just sweep across each nail with the drill, keeping the pressure even.
  • Switch to a coarse ceramic bit to remove the bulk of the acrylic. Use the same sweeping motions, but don’t go all the way to your natural nails yet. Leave a thin layer to protect them.
  • Switch back to the coarse sanding band to get in hard-to-reach spots like around the cuticles. You still don’t wanna touch your natural nails yet.
  • Change to a fine sanding band to remove the last thin layer of dip powder. Make sure the nails are smooth and blended well. If you’re worried about damaging your natural nails, you can leave a very thin layer of dip powder on.
  • Wipe the nails clean with rubbing alcohol or dish soap and you’re done!

This first method for removing powder acrylic nails is the best way to do it without using acetone.

I actually prefer this method to acetone or soaking because it’s proactive and I don’t really have the patience to sit with my hands in a bowl of liquid.

But what about if you don’t own a nail drill?

Well, let’s look at another method you can try.

This next method involves using Isopropyl alcohol.

How to remove dip nails with Isopropyl alcohol

This second method uses isopropyl alcohol to remove your powder acrylic nails.

For this method, you soak your nails just like you would with acetone.

The results are a little different though.

While acetone will make your nails dissolve and break down, alcohol will only soften them up a little.

It’s usually enough to make it easier for you to file them down or possibly prise them off.

This method does take longer than using acetone.

You’ll probably find that you need to soak your nails for at least 30 minutes.

If you don’t want to wait that long, you can soak them for 10 minutes and remove the rest with a manual file or a nail drill.

What you’ll need to remove dip nails using the isopropyl alcohol method:

  • Isopropyl alcohol – a 99% solution is best
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Bowl
  • Nail file (or nail drill if you have one)
  • A cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick

Steps to follow for removing dip nails with isopropyl alcohol

Straight soak method:

  1. Fill a bowl with enough isopropyl alcohol to cover your nails.
  2. Soak your nails for at least 30 minutes. You can check on them after 10 or 15 minutes to see how things are going.
  3. Using a cuticle pusher or orangewood stick, gently go around the edges of each nail to see if any acrylic will prise off.
  4. Use the nail file or a nail drill to remove any remaining acrylic.

Remember, this is a time-consuming method, but it is kinder to your natural nails.

If you’re having trouble, repeat the soaking process if needed.

Tin foil strips method:

If you don’t want to sit with your hands in a bowl, you could try using this next method.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Tin foil
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • A nail file (or nail drill if you have one)
  • Cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Cut out some foil strips. They need to be big enough to cover your whole fingertip and your nail.
  2. Soak the cotton balls in Isopropyl alcohol.
  3. Apply a soaked cotton ball to each nail and secure it in place with the tin foil strip.
  4. Leave for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the foil and cotton balls.
  6. Use a cuticle pusher or orangewood stick to remove as much dip powder as you can.
  7. Soak again if needed.
  8. File off any last stubborn bits with a manual file or a nail drill.

Can you remove dip nails with rubbing alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol are similar, but they are not quite the same thing.

Let me explain.

Rubbing alcohol usually contains 70% or less Isopropyl alcohol (with water or other chemicals added).

This means that rubbing alcohol does work to get your dip nails off.

But it’s not as strong or as effective for removing your nails with a 70% plus solution.

For the fastest and best results, you want a 90% or above Isopropyl alcohol liquid.

How do you remove powder dip nails with oil?

If you don’t have a nail drill or Isopropyl alcohol at home, you can try this next method.

It uses oil.

This technique takes a (very) long time and works best on old nails.

What you’ll need to remove dip nails with oil:

  • A base oil like cooking oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, or baby oil
  • A bowl
  • Dishwashing liquid or soap
  • A cuticle pusher or orangewood stick
  • a nail file

Steps to follow for removing dip nails with oil:

  1. Fill the bowl with your chosen base oil mixed with a little dish soap and hot water. You want enough liquid to cover your nails. Don’t make it too hot or you will burn yourself!
  2. Run the cuticle pusher or orangewood stick around the edges of the nails to help the oil to seep underneath.
  3. Soak your nails in a bowl of oil, water, and soap for 20 minutes, then check on them.
  4. Use the cuticle pusher or orangewood stick to try and remove as much dip powder as possible.
  5. Repeat the process if necessary.
  6. Once you’ve removed as much dip powder as you can, wash your hands with soap and water to remove the oil.
  7. Use a nail file to file off any remaining bits of acrylic.

This is a long and drawn-out process, but it will eventually work.

How to remove dip nails with a manual nail file

In a pinch, you can remove your dip nails using just a simple nail file.

Personally, I don’t recommend this method because it takes FOREVER and is super hard work!

But if you have a ton of patience and you don’t mind the work, you can try this out.

What you’ll need to remove dip nails with a nail file:

  • A 180 grit nail file
  • A tip-cutting tool
  • Nail buffer

Steps to follow to remove dip nails with a nail file.

  1. Cut your nails down with the tip-cutting tool. Take as much off as possible to minimize filing time.
  2. File sidewall to sidewall starting from the bottom and working your way up towards the free edge. You will need to be careful when you get down near the natural nail plate.
  3. Once most of the acrylic is gone, switch to a buffer to avoid damaging the natural nail plates.

If you are using this method, i recommend that you combine it with some type of soaking if you can.

Our next method combines filing and soaking methods to speed things up a little.

Can you remove dip nails with hot water?

If you don’t have isopropyl alcohol or oil for soaking, you can try the hot water method to remove powder gel nails.

This is a combination of the previous two methods and it works best if you have a little patience.

You can speed things up dramatically by using a nail drill instead of a manual file.

What you’ll need to remove dip nails with hot water:

  • A bowl
  • Hot water
  • Tip cutting tool or nail scissors
  • A nail file or a nail drill
  • Nail buffer

Steps to follow for removing dip powder nails with hot water:

  1. Pour some hot (not boiling) water into the bowl.
  2. Soak your nails in the hot water for 10 minutes to soften them up for cutting.
  3. Cut the nails down with scissors or a tip-cutting tool.
  4. Use the file or nail drill to remove as much of the acrylic as possible.
  5. Soak a second time if needed.
  6. File the softened acrylic again.
  7. When you get close to the nail plates, switch to a buffer to avoid damaging the natural nails.

Keep in mind that you may need to repeat the soaking process a few times to completely remove all of the powder gel nails.

Final thoughts:

Let’s have a quick recap on how to remove dip powder nails without acetone shall we?

In this post, we’ve learned how to remove dip powder without damaging nails.

We’ve gone over how to remove dip nails with a drill, whether you can file dip nails at home, and a ton of great methods for how to remove dip powder nails without acetone.

We hope you’ve found this post helpful and that you can now go out and remove your own dip nails with ease!

So, now that you know all my top tips for dip nails removal at home, what are you waiting for?

Get to drilling!


  • Phoebe Meadows

    Phoebe Meadows is a self-proclaimed nail addict, always on the lookout for the latest trends and techniques. When she's not creating stunning nail designs, you can find her researching the latest nail care products or experimenting with new techniques.