How to Clean Glue Off Press-On Nails

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Press-on nails can give your fingertips some much-needed pizazz when you’re in a pinch. Of course, the glue they leave behind can be tough to get rid of – but not impossible.

In this article, we’re going to discuss how to clean glue off Press-On nails.

Here are the basics:

  • You can gently file them off after soaking them in water
  • Residual glue can be removed with a nail buffer and acetone.
  • Acrylic nails can be removed using acetone alone.

In this guide, we’ll take you through each step of the process, and by the end, you’ll have clean and healthy natural nails once more!


Press-On Nails 101

Press-on nails

Press-on nails – also known as glue-on nails – are artificial nails made of various materials like ABS plastic, that can be attached to the top of your natural nails.

They come in various colors, shapes, and sizes; as such, they’re just as popular today as they were during the late 90s and early 2000s. Press-ons were once considered a bit tacky, but with newer styles and better technology, they are once again all the rage.

If you haven’t already used press-on nails yourself, the chances are that you know someone who has. Even celebrities such as Zendaya, Billie Eilish, and Chrissy Teigen have been spotted sporting some fabulous press-ons. 

How to Clean Glue Off Press-On Nails

Glue-off for press on nails

Maybe you accidentally got some nail glue on the wrong side of your press-ons. Or maybe you’re trying to clean the glue off your press-ons so that you can reuse them in the future.

Regardless, you’re going to want to pick up some Glue-Off for press-ons !

Nail Glue Remover Glue Off for False Nails, BettyCora Press ON Nails Glue Remover Fake Nail Adhesives Remover Nail Glue Debonder Nail Tips Remover 15ml 1Pcs
  • Due to the volatility of this nail glue...
  • Nail Glue Remover with Wooden Stick:...
  • Dissolve Nail Glue: This glue off...
  • Damage False Nail Tips: This false nails...
  • Remove Nails Frequently: A few drops of...

Removing Globs of Nail Glue from A Press-On

Take a small amount of the Glue-Off and gently place it on the glue stuck to your nail. Rub it in with a paper towel, and the glue should begin to loosen and finally dislodge from the nail.

You can use acetone in these cases, as well, but the acetone can damage the nail and ruin any paint on it.

Removing Left Over Glue From Press-Ons

Let’s go over the basics of how to properly remove press-ons from your natural nails, and remove any leftover glue on the press-ons.

You’re wondering how to safely remove press-on nails and get rid of the glue they leave behind. Fortunately, if you’re used to applying press-ons yourself, taking them off should be easy-going.

However, before you get started, there are a few things that you will need.

What Do You Need To Remove Press-On Nails?

Press-on nails don’t require much in the way of tools and supplies to remove. You will, however, require the following items:

  • A bowl (or basin)
  • Warm water
  • Hand soap
  • A nail buffer
  • Some acetone
  • A few cotton balls

With these supplies in hand, you’re ready to get started.

How Do You Remove Press-On Nails?

Removing press-on nails is pretty easy, certainly less involved than removing acrylics.

The entire process shouldn’t take you more than half an hour.

Step 1: Soak the nails in warm, soapy water.

Fill a bowl or basin with warm water, then add hand soap. Place your hands in the soapy water, so the nails are completely submerged, and leave them there for around 15 minutes. Doing so will soften the nail glue, making them easier to remove. 

Alternatively, you could use acetone instead of warm water, which may damage your skin, especially after repeated use. Some people also use cuticle oil on the nails, which can soften them up faster; using soap and warm water, however, is a more cost-effective solution. 

Step 2: Remove the nails once the glue has softened.

After 15 minutes, there should be a spot on your nails where the press-ons have begun to detach. Gently press the press-ons off from this spot. 

If you can’t find any loose spots, you can use a nail file to dig under the edges of the press-ons. Be careful when doing this, however.

Feel free to soak the nails a bit longer before trying again if necessary.

Step 3: Remove any excess glue with a nail buffer.

Once the nails are off, give your real nails some time to dry. After a few minutes, use the buffing side of your nail buffer to rub away any excess glue.

Once you’re satisfied that all the glue has been removed, rinse your nails again to remove the powder. Additionally, you can use the shining side of your nail buffer to polish your nails afterward.

Step 4: Use acetone to remove the last bit of glue.

After following steps 1 to 3, you may find that there is still a small amount of glue left on your nails. To get rid of this, soak a cotton ball in acetone and use it to rub each fingernail clean of glue. 

It may be a good idea to complete this step, in any case, to ensure that your nails are completely free of glue.

Remember to wash your hands afterward to prevent any damage to your skin, cuticles, or nails.

What Are The Benefits Of Press-On Nails?

Press-on nails used to be cheap, novelty items that people would wear before a big interview. While they’re still cheap, their uses are now far more varied.

People will slap on some acrylics for pretty much anything, and it’s not hard to see why. Some of the benefits of press-on nails include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Affordability: Press-ons are super cheap! It’s not hard to find a good set for less than $10.
  • Easy application: Press-ons don’t require a Ph.D. to apply. Adding them to your nails usually only takes around 10 minutes.
  • Easy removal: Although some people may struggle at first, removing press-on nails is a quick and simple process once you know how it’s done.
  • Variety: As mentioned, press-ons come in various lengths, shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s easy to find a set to match the occasion. 

Additionally, press-on nails are readily available pretty much everywhere you go. Their ubiquity really comes in handy when you’re in a pinch and need to find the perfect set of nails to match your outfit.

How Long Do Press-On Nails Last?

Typically, press-on nails only last for about a week before they start to fall off, provided they are applied with glue. Press-ons that use a sticker may only last three days or less. However, with proper care, it’s possible to make them last up to two weeks.

Press-on nails only last for about a week before they start to fall off.

What Is The Difference Between Press-On Nails And Acrylic Nails? 

You may be confused about the difference between press-on nails and acrylic nails. Both terms are sometimes (erroneously) used interchangeably, but there are a few key differences between the two types of fake nails. 

What Are Acrylic Nails? 

Unlike press-on nails, which come ready-made, acrylic nails are a mixture of powder and liquid monomer, which are combined to make a dough.

This dough is then shaped onto your nails with a brush and air-dried. The result is a high-quality nail set that can last up to eight weeks with proper maintenance. 

Acrylics vs Press-On Nails

Knowing the differences between acrylic nails and press-ons can help you decide which of the two you prefer. Additionally, these differences also play a part in the removal process. The differences include:

  • Longevity: Press-ons can last up to two weeks at most, while the lifespan of a set of acrylics is typically around 5 to 6 weeks.
  • Application: Acrylics require a nail technician to apply; press-ons, on the other hand, can easily be self-applied.
  • Durability: Acrylics are typically much more durable than press-ons, though they still require some preservation maintenance.
  • Material(s): Press-ons are made from low-cost acrylic material, while acrylics are made from an expensive concoction of powder and monomer.

Another notable difference is the cost between the two types of nails. A decent set of press-ons may set you back around $15 to $20, while acrylics can easily cost you $50 or more. 


If you’ve got a little excess glue on your press-on, it’s a good idea to keep some Glue-Off on hand to clean up the mess.

If you’re trying to clean off the glue from your nails so that you can reuse them: acetone is your friend!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).