Home Nails How To Take Off Acrylic Nails With Hot Water

How To Take Off Acrylic Nails With Hot Water

by Gabbi

Acrylic nails are meant to last for weeks, so much so that you may have difficulty removing them. Ideally, it’s best to visit a salon or nail tech to get your acrylic professionally removed to avoid damaging your natural nails.

Sometimes life can get in the way, and it may not always be convenient to go to a salon to remove acrylic nails. However, taking acrylics off at home can also be a risk because you most likely don’t have a nail drill around the house.

You can attempt to remove your acrylics at home with a few simple methods. One of the easiest ways is by using hot water. The hot water method is affordable, accessible, and can help maintain the health and integrity of your natural nails. 

This method will be time-consuming because it requires you to soak your nails in water, and you’ll need time to peel off your acrylics gently. You can add other items to the water for extra help.

How can you take off acrylic nails with hot water? The easiest way to remove your acrylic nails with hot water is by boiling your water, letting it cool to a tolerable temperature, and then submerging your fingers for 15 minutes. After this, you can use a wood stick to gently remove the acrylic.

Whether you can’t get an appointment on time or find yourself in a pinch, removing your enhancements with hot water may be able to remedy the situation. Other methods like filing or peeling can cause immense damage to your real nails. 

Why Are Acrylic Nails Difficult To Remove?

Acrylic nails are some of the most durable enhancements and require extra care. They can’t be removed like regular nail polish and need the help of a nail drill or acetone. In addition, it can take a while to remove acrylic at home without certain tools.

Also, improperly removing acrylic nails can lead to long-term damage to your natural nails. So, staying patient and handling your nails with care is crucial. Breaking down monomers and polymers can be challenging.

How To Professionally Remove Acrylic Nails 

The best way to remove acrylics is at a nail salon or a licensed nail tech. Professionals can easily remove acrylics because they have the tools to do so, and some can only be purchased if you have a nail tech license.

A professional removal incorporates using a nail drill to file away all the product that makes up your acrylic nails. Some salons may choose to soak your nails in acetone to remove the first few layers of acrylic nails.

What Tools Do You Need To Remove Acrylic At Home?

Not everyone will have access to a nail drill, but the hot water method will come in handy if you need to remove acrylics at home. Hot water and other essential manicure tools are the main components required to break down the acrylic.

You’ll need two bowls (one for acetone if you decide to use it), a file, buffer, tweezers, a cuticle pusher, and clippers. Optional items are acetone and Vaseline.

These standard nail tools can help gently remove your acrylic nails, but they may require extra time. 

How To Remove Acrylics With Hot Water

You can remove your nails with hot water in two ways. The first only uses hot water, while the second incorporates acetone with your hot water. Acetone is stronger than nail polish removers and will break down acrylic polymers, monomers, or glue. 

Acetone may come in handy if your nails are extra tough to remove and need something more substantial than water. Follow the step-by-step guide on eliminating acrylics at home with care.

With Just Water

The first method only incorporates the use of hot water. 

1. Trim, Shape, And File

Your acrylics are most likely grown out if it’s time to remove them. Therefore, you’ll need to prep your nails before the hot water soak to ensure a quicker removal time.

First, you’ll want to trim your acrylics up to your natural nails; this will eliminate the extension. Next, it’s time to file off the first layer of acrylic so the hot water can penetrate the nail deeper.

Finally, remove any product from the cuticle and gently push them back so they have an easier time lifting.

2. Boil Water

It’s time to get your water ready! The water should be hot enough to loosen the acrylics without burning or causing harm to your fingers. The easiest way to boil water in a flash is with a kettle, but a microwave may be able to work just as well. 

Your stovetop can also come in handy because you can witness when the water comes to a boil. Once you have your hot water, pour it into a large bowl to submerge your fingers into. Let it cool to a tolerable temperature.

3. Soak Your Fingers 

Again, the water should be hot but comfortable enough for your fingers to soak in to achieve the best results. This is also when your patience will kick in because you’ll want to soak your nails for at least 15-30 minutes in hot water.

This will ensure the water has had enough time to soften the nails and break down the acrylic. Once the time is up, you can remove your nails and dry them off with a towel.

4. Gently Remove The Acrylic 

Now it’s time to peel off your acrylic gently. The product should be soft enough, so the acrylic comes off by itself. You’ll want to take your time with this step. In addition, you can use an orange wood stick/cuticle pusher or file to remove the acrylic gently.

The majority of your acrylic should peel off and reveal your natural nail plate. 

5. Repeat 

Have a tough time removing your acrylic? If you find yourself forcing your acrylic to come off or being rough during peeling, stop and repeat steps 2-4. A fresh soak can help break down the leftover product to keep the natural nails safe.

You may find that you need to do multiple soaks for acrylic, which is extra challenging. If that’s the case, you may want to try option two; soaking nails in hot water with acetone. 

6. Continue Manicure

Now that all your acrylic is safely removed, you can continue with the rest of your manicure. This will also be a great time to apply a nail strengthener to nourish the nails, especially if they took some damage during removal.

It will also be wise to avoid getting another nail enhancement until your natural ones fully recover. 

With Acetone 

Another option is taking off acrylic nails with hot water and acetone. This method is ideal for acrylic but is extremely tough to eliminate. Acetone is used to soak off acrylics and can come in handy because you can purchase it at any beauty supplier.

Hot water and acetone are unique methods because you’ll need two bowls, one for water and one for acetone. The water will warm up that acetone to help disintegrate acrylic nails.

1. Protect Your Fingers & Prep

You’ll want to conduct the same prep steps listed above before you soak your nails. However, you’ll need to add petroleum jelly to protect your fingers. Acetone is extremely harsh and can sting or decrease the integrity of your cuticles.

So, generously apply petroleum jelly around the nails and cuticles as a protective barrier for your hot water and acetone soak. 

2. Boil Water & Prepare Acetone 

Now it’s time to prepare your water and acetone. You will need two bowls that can fit into one another. Also, as described in the first hot water method, you can boil and prepare your water.

Then, you’ll want to place the acetone into the other bowl. Finally, you’ll use the acetone to soak the nails with the extra help of hot water.

3. Place Acetone In The Water 

Once the water is ready, place the bowl into the water, avoiding dumping the acetone. Instead, the hot water will surround the bowl of acetone and warm up this nail enhancement remover. So, one bowl should be resting in the other.

The acrylic will warm up, making it ideal to continue your hot water soak. You may even use the water afterward to rinse the residual acetone from your nails.

4. Soak Your Fingers

The following steps will be the same as the first hot water method. You’ll want to soak your nails in the acetone and water for at least 15-30 minutes. It’s crucial to allow enough time for the fingers to soak so the product can soften quickly.

Once the timer is off, you can rinse your nails in hot water and dry them with a towel.

5. Gently Remove Acrylic 

You can decide to slowly peel or push off your acrylic with your fingers or with the help of a manicure tool. Tweezers, files, and orange wood sticks can gently remove acrylic and glue to help reveal your natural nail plates.

Again, you’ll want to avoid forcefully removing acrylic because it can severely harm your natural nails’ integrity in the long run.

6. Repeat 

If you find that the acrylic is still secure on the nails, repeat the steps above to break down the product slowly but surely. You can repeat them a few times, but be aware of using too much acetone. It should eventually remove all the acrylic from the nails. 

7. Continue Manicure 

Finally, you can complete the rest of your manicure and give the nails some TLC. Apply a coat of nail strengthener and cuticle oil to revive your nails. Also, avoid applying enhancements until the nails return to their healthy state.

Why Use Hot Water To Remove Acrylic Nails? 

Why should you use hot water to take off your acrylic nails? Water isn’t a harmful or harsh chemical solvent that can damage your nails. It’s a gentle removal method that can increase the chance of the acrylic lifting and softening the natural nails.

It may not be quick, but the water won’t cause unnecessary harm to your nail plates. However, you’ll want to avoid burning your fingers and ensure the temperature is tolerable for a long soak. 

What To Avoid During At-Home Removal

Even if you don’t have access to professional nail tools, you can still take off acrylics without ripping your nails off. However, avoid specific removal techniques to preserve the integrity of your natural nail plates.

For example, applying any force during removal can cause long-term damage. In addition, you should never neglect aftercare because your nails will need help recovering from a lengthy removal process.

It’s wiser to take your time and repeat the removal steps above than apply force.

Peeling Acrylic With Force

Working gently is the best thing you can do while taking off acrylic at home. Using force during any of the steps listed above won’t create a healthy result for your nails. It’s crucial to take your time and stay patient during each removal phase.

Peeling, picking, ripping, or tugging the acrylic will only worsen matters. It can cause long-term damage to your nails, taking months to grow. You’ll want to avoid unnecessarily weakening them so you can continue with other nail services.

Neglecting Post Removal Care 

When you eventually remove all your acrylic, avoid neglecting your natural nails. Chances are your real nails will need extra help and nourishment, especially after soaking in water for 30 minutes or more. So it’s time to infuse them with care.

Once the removal is complete, try completing a nourishing manicure. You can apply a nail strengthener or cuticle oil, shape the nails, and remove excess residue, so the nails are happy, healthy, and ready to grow.

How To Remove Excess Acrylic Residue

It’s possible that no matter how many soaks you do, you can still have acrylic residue on the nails. This residue may eventually fall off, or you can gently remove it yourself. Regardless, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to remove or keep it.

Some residue may include leftover glue or acrylic. You can decide to perform another soak or strategically buff the nails to eliminate the excess product. Also, you can leave it until it grows out ultimately.

Buff Buff Buff

A buffer is much more gentle than a file and is generally used to polish the nails. Using a buffer can be extremely helpful, especially if you need to remove excess acrylic residue after a hot water soak.

A buffer has a finer grit than a file, so it can remove residue without weakening your nails. In addition, a buffer can smooth out ridges and texture bumps and create an even canvas for a nail strengthener.

Soak Again 

You can also continue the hot water soaking method whenever you see fit. For example, you may take a break for a few days and then attempt again to remove acrylic residue from your nails.

For more challenging residue, try the acetone method, or use regular hot water if you don’t want to aggravate your nail beds further. After you soak, you can follow it up with a nourishing manicure.


Taking off your acrylic nails with hot water is one of the safest at-home removal techniques. This is ideal for those who don’t have access to professional nail tools like a drill. Also, water won’t harm or cause damage to your natural nails.

All you need to do is trim and prep your nails, soak them in hot water, and gently peel off the acrylic. Avoid using force so you can protect the integrity of your natural nail plates. You can also use acetone for acrylics that are extra tough to remove.

It’s crucial to always proceed with caution and to care for your nails gently. You may also visit a nail tech for extra help. 

If you’d like a visual tutorial of the best way to remove your acrylic nails at home, take a look at this one from Cutepolish on YouTube.

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