How to take off acrylic nails with vinegar: 15 easy steps

Acrylic nails are awesome, but they’re a pain in the butt to take off! Removing acrylic nails can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you want to keep the damage to your natural nails down to a minimum. One way to avoid wrecking your nails is to take your acrylics off without using acetone. So in this post, I’m gonna talk you through how to take off acrylic nails with vinegar!

We’ll go into much more detail further down and I’ll give you plenty of useful tips, tricks, and advice.

But here are the 15 basic steps for how to take off acrylic nails with vinegar (in case you’re in a hurry):

  • Remove nail polish
  • Cut your fake nails down
  • Buff, file, or drill off the shine
  • Soak nails in warm water for 10 mins
  • Mix equal parts vinegar and lemon juice (or vinegar and alcohol) in a bowl
  • Soak your nails in the vinegar mix for 10 mins
  • Wash your hands
  • Scrape off loose layers of acrylic
  • Soak, wash hands and scrape again if needed
  • Buff or file to remove any last bits
  • Shape your natural nails and cut them if needed
  • Push back cuticles
  • Apply Nail strengthener (optional but recommended)
  • Use Cuticle oil (optional)
  • Put on some hand cream (optional)

Ok, now that you have the basic steps, let’s walk you through exactly what to do.

We’ll start with equipment.

What you’ll need to remove acrylic nails at home

First things first, grab all the stuff.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A bowl
  • Apple cider or white vinegar
  • Nail clippers or a cutting tool
  • A cuticle pusher or orangewood stick
  • Nail file (or e-file and sanding bits)
  • Buffer
  • Nail polish remover (if you need to remove polish first)
  • Cotton balls, pads, or lint free wipes (if doing the foil wrap method)
  • Foil (if you want to do the wrap method)
  • Small towel
  • Petroleum jelly – (optional)

Now that you have all the things, you’re ready to follow the simple steps below.

How to take off acrylic nails with vinegar step by step

This is the dipping or soaking method.

If you want to do the foil method, follow these steps but instead of soaking your nails in the bowl, soak a cotton ball in the vinegar mix and attach it to your nail with a foil strip.

Scroll down to the foil method section below for more tips and a useful video.

Ready to get started? Here’s the first step.

1. Remove nail polish

If you have colored acrylic, a good e-file, or you haven’t painted over your acrylic nails then you can skip this step.

2. Cut your fake nails down 

You need to remove as much acrylic as you can to speed up the removal process. 

Start by using nail clippers or a tip cutting tool to take off the tips.

3. Buff, file, or drill off the shine 

The best way to take off the layers of acrylic is to use an e-file and a sanding bit. 

If you don’t have a nail drill, you can use a regular nail file or a buffer. 

Work from the cuticle upwards towards the free edge of each nail and take off as much as you can. 

You should be left with a thin layer of acrylic, don’t go all the way down to your natural nails!

4. Soak nails in warm water for 10 mins

This step is optional, but it does help to soften the nails up ready for the vinegar to do its thing.

5, Make the vinegar soak 

There are 2 basic recipes you can follow. 

You should start with either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. 

Then choose either lemon juice or rubbing alcohol. 

Rubbing alcohol works best, but lemon juice smells nicer. 

Mix equal parts vinegar with either rubbing alcohol or lemon juice in a bowl. 

A 1 to 1 ratio is perfect, so use the same amount of vinegar as you do alcohol or lemon juice.

6. Soak your hands in the vinegar mix 

Set a timer on your phone for 12 minutes and dunk your fingers in the bowl. 

After 12 minutes, check them to see if they are soft. If they are, great! Move on to step 7.

If not, soak them in five-minute intervals until they are soft enough to scrape off easily.

7. Wash your hands 

Once your nails are soft, you might be tempted to start scraping right away. 

Don’t! Wash your hands first before starting to remove. 

This will stop your hands from drying out too much or becoming irritated by the acid in the vinegar.

8. Scrape off loose layers of acrylic 

Use a cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick to gently scrape off the loose layers of acrylic and nail glue. 

You need to proceed with caution here! Start at the bottom and push up towards the tip. 

You may find that all of the nail glue has dissolved away. If that’s the case you might be able to get right underneath them with a cuticle pusher. 

If your cuticle pusher is too thick to fit under the fake nail you can also use dental floss, or a sterilized needle if you have one handy!

9. Soak, wash hands and scrape again if needed

 If you still have quite a lot of acrylic on your nails, you can soak them again (5 more minutes should do the trick).

Don’t forget to wash your hands before scraping again with the cuticle pusher or orangewood stick.

10. Buff or file to remove any last bits 

You might find that even though most of the acrylic is gone, your nails still feel rough and bumpy. 

Take a file or a nail buffer and gently smooth the surface to remove any last bits that are clinging.

11. Cut and shape your natural nails

Your nails will probably have grown out quite a bit, so you might want to trim them down with the nail clippers. 

Or if you’re happy with the length, you can go ahead and file them into a nice shape. 

Oval is probably best as your nails will be brittle and it’s the shape that’s least likely to chip and break.

12. Push back cuticles

Your cuticles will also have grown out so you’ll want to push them back very gently with an orangewood stick.

If you have hangnails or loose cuticles go ahead and trim them with cuticle nippers, nail scissors, or your nail clippers.

13. Apply nail strengthener 

I always like to apply a nail strengthener after I remove my acrylic nails.

It helps to protect them from breakages between acrylic nail applications.

14. Use cuticle oil 

After having the acrylics on and dipping your nails in vinegar, your cuticles will be very dry. 

So dab on a tiny amount of cuticle oil to help them out.

15. Apply Hand cream 

This is optional but it does finish things off nicely. 

If you don’t have cuticle oil, hand cream is the next best thing for moisturizing those dried-out fingers!

That’s it! Your nails are done!

The foil method

The foil method follows the same steps above.

But instead of soaking your nails directly in the bowl, you soak a cotton ball in the vinegar mix and pop it onto the top of your nail.

You hold it in place with a foil strip.

If you want to follow the foil method, you’ll need to cut some foil strips and have some cotton balls or pads handy.

The idea of using foil is to add a little heat to the process, which is meant to speed things up a little.

It’s also a little more freeing because you don’t have to sit upright with your fingers in the bowl.

This Kiara sky video shows you how to do the foil method. They use acetone but the process is exactly the same for your vinegar solution:

A great video I found:

These written how-to guides can seem a bit overwhelming. But I promise you, removing fake nails with vinegar at home is super simple!

Here’s a great video that’s super short and super useful. It shows you how easy it is to remove acrylic nails at home without acetone and what to do once your fake nails are off.

Final thoughts:

Soaking your nails in vinegar is a cheap and easy way to remove acrylic nails at home. The process takes around 30 minutes, and it’s much less damaging to your natural nails than using acetone.

It does take a little longer than removal using 100% acetone, but it’s natural and gentle in comparison.

You can also use the foil method for added heat (though this is optional). Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after removing your nails, and apply a nail strengthener and cuticle oil to help protect them from breakages in the future.

I hope that you enjoyed this article and found it useful.

See you next time 🙂

FAQ’s

Does taking off acrylic nails hurt?

Unless you have an infection or you are pulling too hard, taking off your acrylic nails at home should be pain-free.

If you do experience pain, stop and try again later. You might need to soak your nails for a little longer or use more vinegar.

If you’re still having trouble, it might be a good idea to go to a professional.

What is the best way to remove acrylic nails?

The most effective way to remove acrylic nails is to soak them in acetone. However, this can be very damaging to your nails.

Vinegar is a natural and gentle alternative that takes a little longer but is much less likely to damage your nails.

You can also use the foil method which uses heat to speed up the process.

What are the benefits of taking off acrylic nails at home?

Taking off your own acrylics can save you time and money. It’s a cheap and easy process that doesn’t require any fancy equipment.

You also don’t need to go to a professional, so it’s perfect if you’re wanting to remove your nails on a budget.

Is it better to take off acrylic nails with acetone or vinegar?

Both acetone and vinegar are effective at removing acrylic nails. However, vinegar is a more natural and gentle alternative that is less likely to damage your nails.

Acetone may be faster but it can be very damaging.

Can I reuse my acrylic nails?

No. It’s not safe or hygienic to reuse acrylic nails. Once they’re removed, they should be disposed of in the trash.

Other useful posts:

Best acrylic nail brands: the most popular brands for acrylic nails.

What’s the best acrylic nail brush? My top 8 recommendations.