Gel nail cleanser cleans your nails before applying gel or acrylic nails for better adhesion. Also, it can be used to safely remove sticky residue on the top coat left after applying gel nails.

Its purpose is to prepare your nails by cleaning, softening, and removing all the dust, grease, oil, or sticky layer that may have gathered on your nails.

Gel nail cleanser does not contain any resins or harsh chemicals, unlike the nail cleanser you use for regular nail polish remover.

In this article, I’ll explain how to use Gel nail cleanser to correctly remove sticky or tacky layer on your gel nails to avoid a dull or weak look.

How to use Gel Nail Cleansers

The gel nail cleansers are basically used to remove the sticky or tacky layers from the gel nails. These tacky layers are the uncured gel polish left once you have cured the gel polish.

There are four basic ways that you can adopt to wipe the sticky residue from Gel nails.

  1. Isopropyl Alcohol: you can find it easily in the form of alcohol wipes or lint-free cotton pads soaked in isopropyl alcohol in the market.
  2. Non-acetone nail polish remover:
  3. Gel Cleansers: These are Ready-to-use solutions to remove sticky residue from gel nails top coat
  4. DIY Gel Nail cleanser: There are some DIY gel cleansers that you can make at home to wipe off the residue

1. Using isopropyl Alcohol

99% isopropyl alcohol is one of the most effective ways to remove the sticky or tacky layer from the gel top coat.

Its considered to be effective because it can instantly dissolve the tacky layer, which is actually the uncured gel polish. Citation

You can use a cotton ball dipped in Alcohol on uncured gel polish residue.

To secure it firmly, wrap aluminum foil around it, which will dissolve the sticky or tacky layer, making it easy to wipe out. Or you can use it to wipe out nails to prep for a gel polish manicure.

If this method sounds too much to you, try using alcohol wipes instead. These alcohol wipes are prepared with 70% isopropyl alcohol and come in handy individual packages. All you have to do is to open up the pack and use the alcohol wipe on the gel polish to remove the tacky layer to leave the nails clean off.

Mostly, I use Dynarex’s sterilize Alcohol wipes because they come in a perfect size to prep the nails, and you’ll get a case of 10 boxes with 2000 alcohol pads. Or you can get 1 box with 200 wipes if you are not interested in buying bulk.

Note: Don’t wipe gel nails using a single wipe more than once because it will affect your nail’s glossy look and make them dull. Use one wipe on each nail, and don’t reuse it.

2. Non-Acetone Nail polish remover

If you don’t have Isopropyl Alcohol or any gel cleanser, other methods can help remove residue from gel nails without Alcohol. Try using a non-acetone nail polish remover. Pour a little Acetone free remover on a lint-free cotton pad and gently rub off the sticky or tacky layer. Don’t use it excessively, or it’ll weaken your gel manicure. Blossom Nail polish remover is the new addition to my nail kit because of its cruelty-free, plant-based vegan formula. Its organic and non-acetone formula emits a pleasant smell when applied.

3. What is Gelish nail cleanser

Gelish nail cleanser is a new product that cleanses tacky or sticky residue from the nails. You can also clean oil or moisture from nail plates before applying gel polish to provide a clean surface for better adhesion.

You paint it on, let it dry, peel it off like nail polish, and all that color comes off. It’s a quick way to remove failed colors from your nails. Gel cleansers provide the most efficient result but are a bit costly compared to Alcohol.

Pro Tip: invest in a NO-Wipe Top coat

Invest in a NO-wipe Top Coat for more accurate and fine results without cleaning off the sticky layer.

No-wipe top coats are the best investment because they cure completely without leaving any sticky residue that must be wiped out.

I mostly use Mia’s secret gel top coat because it gives ultra shine without requiring a wipeout.

What to use instead of Gel nail cleanser or Substitute


Before using any gel nail cleanser substitute, use lint-free nail wipes that are perfect to use before nail polish application, or you can use them to remove sticky residue from gel nails afterward. It’s great to remove nail stains and other impurities from your nails.

So, I am going to give you some alternatives to gel nail cleansers if you don’t have anything with Alcohol to clean.

DIY Gel Nail Cleansers

Lemon juice

For removing the gel nail polish, you can use lemon juice. First, cut a slice of lemon and soak it in warm water for half an hour. After that, dip your fingers in it and leave it for 10 minutes. Then using a soft brush, remove the gel from the surface of your nails. In this way, you can remove the gel nails from your hands by using lemon juice.

Apple cider vinegar

Applying apple cider vinegar on the gel nail polish is straightforward. Mix two spoons of water and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Use a cotton ball, apply this mixture to the gel nails, and leave it for 5 minutes. Then gently remove the gel from your fingers by using a soft brush.

Coconut oil

Use coconut oil to remove the gel from your fingers. Take some coconut oil on your finger and make a thick paste. Please keep it for 7 minutes and then use a soft brush to remove the gel nails from your nails.

Olive oil

Try olive oil to remove the gel nail polish. Rub some olive oil on your hands before sleeping at night. Then clean your nails in the morning. It will remove the gel from your fingers easily.

These are easy home remedies to remove the gel from your fingers. If you don’t have any of the above alternatives, you can use certain household chemicals with high concentrations of Alcohol, such as perfumes, hand sanitizers, or Lysol, for this purpose. These are some of the best gel nails cleanse alternatives that are easily available at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a nail surface cleanser used for?

Nail Surface Cleanser is a unique nail prep solution that cleanses, preps, and starts your manicure off right. It’s the first step in achieving a professional-looking, long-lasting manicure. It is perfect for removing oil before starting your manicure, removing sticky residue after removing polish, or strengthening your nails. It is not designed to remove existing gels.

For best results, apply Nail Surface Cleanser to clean bare nails. Wait for 30 seconds. Apply base coat and finish with two coats of your favorite Gelish color.

What is a Formula X nail cleanser?

Every manicure needs a little Formula X nail cleanser. That appears to be the slogan of Sally Hansen’s new line, and I couldn’t agree more. With the Formula X nail polish, Sally Hansen hopes to address several common problems women have with at-home manicures. Now, you can forget about your nails looking chipped and dull because the formula X line includes a new topcoat that ensures your manicure will be in tip-top shape for up to 10 days.

Can Acetone be used to remove sticky residue from Gel nails?

No, it’s not recommended by experts to make use of Acetone to remove sticky residue from gel nails because Acetone tends to weaken your nails over time; therefore, it should be avoided.

What is the sticky residue that persists on your Gel nails?

Let me tell you something interesting about some gel polish brands. When you put gel polish on your nails, there is sometimes a sticky residue on gel nails that won’t go away. But what causes it? Well, it’s because the air has oxygen. When the gel polish on the top layer of your manicure doesn’t have enough time to be properly cured, it leaves behind a layer called the inhibition layer that is tacky or sticky. It’s like a reminder that the polish needs more time to dry. Also, this uncured gel causes severe allergic reactions in some cases. So, if you ever find yourself in this sticky situation, apply a thin layer of polish and cure it fully under a LED light and give your gel polish a little more time to dry, and it’ll prevent sticky residue from forming.

Is it recommended to clean gel nails between individual coats?

It’s important to note that you don’t have to remove the sticky layer after every coat of gel polish. You only need to wipe away the sticky layer on the top coat. You don’t need to do this between each coat.

Base coats, color coats, and top coats are often used in gel nails system. These layers are made to stick together easily, making a manicure that will last for a long time. Wiping between coats can mess up the bonding process and make the gel nails last less long overall. It’s important to note that you don’t have to clear off the sticky layer after every coat of gel polish. You only need to wipe away the sticky layer on the top coat. You don’t need to do this between each coat.

Base coats, color coats, and top coats are often used in gel nails system. These layers are made to stick together easily, making a manicure that will last for a long time. Wiping between coats can stop the gel nails from sticking together and make them last less long.

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