Gel Nail Cleanser Substitute- 3 Alternatives!

Your skin might be reacting to your current gel nail cleanser. Or you’re simply out of the cleanser. But it’s a bit of an emergency situation.

And you don’t have time to go to the store. And then buy a new one.

So you’ve been looking for a gel nail cleanser substitute.

Well, you can use hand sanitizer as an alternative. They’re a convenient option. Or choose vodka/gin. They’re pretty effective as well. And both of them can be used the same way. Pour them in a cotton pad and rub the nails. Or just use alcohol pads to skip the hassle and save time.

So that’s just a glimpse of the alternatives. But there’s a lot for you to know. So just keep scrolling down. 

Alternative to Gel Nail Cleanser: Why Seek One? 

Gel nail cleanser is a must-have to remove the gel polish. Now removing normal nail polish and gel polish is surely different. When you remove normal polish, you can use acetone. And the nails would be fine.

But gel polish is different. It has a sticky texture. That’s why gel polish doesn’t cure at times. And the curing process becomes lengthy as well as the removal. So you cannot remove it with normal removers. Because the stickiness won’t be gone then.

That’s why special removers are needed. That’ll help remove the polish and the stickiness. But you might not have gel cleansers handy all the time. Or maybe yours just got finished.

Or maybe you found the cleanser bottle empty. So you’re in need of a cleanser. But don’t have one. In that case, we’ve presented substitutes.

Substitute 1 of 3: Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer has alcohol in it. And its consistency is not too watery or thick. So that makes it compatible to wear off gel polish.

The alcohol remaining inside is what works the magic. Gel polish removers also have alcohol. And that mainly helps with the removal process. The thickness of hand sanitizer works just perfectly.

Because you can just rub it on the sticky parts.  Soon, the polish and stickiness will be gone.

Let’s see how different hand sanitizer is from regular gel nail cleansers.

When Hand Sanitizer Is The Best Alternative to Gel Nail Cleansers?

Among other alternatives, hand sanitizer can be used sometimes. That does differ from situation to situation. For example, you’re wearing fewer layers of gel polish. So go for hand sanitizer. As they don’t harm the nail’s health.

But in the case of heavy gel polish, gel cleansers would be more appropriate. So let’s see how different they are.

Point of DifferenceHand SanitizerGel Nail Cleanser
Safety(Nail Health)HighLow
Carrying CapacityHighMedium

You know the point of differences. So choose your alternative wisely.

How To Use A Hand Sanitizer As Substitute?

Using a sanitizer instead of a gel cleanser is not rocket science. First, warm up the nails. For that, soak nails in warm water for 5 minutes. Then take out your nails.

Now bring some cotton pads. And spread a generous amount of sanitizer in it. Then rub the nails with it. Continue this process for all the nails.

But you should know those hand sanitizers are not that high in alcohol. So it won’t be that efficient as gel removers. But if you’re patient and determined, you can get the work done.

Just keep rubbing the nails until all the nail products come off. It might take 3-4 tries. But in the end, you’ll surely get clear nails. But to make the process smoother, here are some tips. 

Few Tips While Using A Sanitizer As Gel Nail Cleanser Alternative

Now using hand sanitizer for your nails might not always work out. To get better results, here are some tips.  Trust us, you should apply these tips when possible.

Tip 1: Prepare The Nails Before Using Sanitizer

You might be wearing nail stones and jewelry. But before the removal, put them away. Because alcohol in the sanitizer can cause discoloration to some materials.

Then just let the nails get relaxed in warm water. So that the gel polish comes off easily. 

Tip 2: Take A Sanitizer with High Alcohol

When choosing hand sanitizer, use one with a higher alcohol percentage. The higher the amount of alcohol, the faster the polish removes.

It will make the process easy and fast.

Tip 3: Prepare The Hand Sanitizer

If your sanitizer is too watery, try to fix the texture. Mix some aloe vera gel with the sanitizer. Take 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel for 2 tablespoons of sanitizer. Then mix them and use them on your nails. 

The thick consistency will help with the sticky gel polish. 

Now, you might not want to destroy your nails while using sanitizer. So here’s our recommendation on hand sanitizers.

trillium usa made liquid hand sanitizer spray

Trillium USA Made Liquid Hand Sanitizer Spray

hand sanitizer gel by williams

Hand Sanitizer Gel by Williams

Use these hand sanitizers for the best results. 

Substitute 2 of 3: Alcohol Pads

Another alternative is isopropyl alcohol or alcohol pads. These are easily available at any drug store. You even get these with products ordered online. Like whenever you order a purse, they provide you alcohol pads.

They surely contain a higher level of alcohol. And they are known to be the best alternative for gel nail cleansers.

When Alcohol Pad Is The Best Alternative to Gel Nail Cleansers?

Alcohol pads got this best alternative title because they’re super convenient. You can just carry them in your purse. And wear off gel polish anytime you want. These pads already are soaked in alcohol. So it will save you some time.

So let’s look at the table. And you’ll get a clear idea of the difference between gel polish and alcohol pad. 

Point of DifferenceAlcohol PadsGel Nail Cleanser
Availability High Medium

Now that the comparison is before you, you better decide which one to go for.

How To Use Alcohol Pads As Substitute?

Using an alcohol pad is easy. Just unpack the alcohol pad. Then start to rub it from the lunula to the open end. 

alcohol pads

Try to do it fast. Because the pad dries out quickly. The reason for this is alcohol which evaporates quickly. So if you don’t hurry, the wipe will dry out before you’re done with your nails.

So, you may need several wipes to get rid of the gel nail polish. 

Few Tips While Using Alcohol Pad As Gel Nail Cleanser Alternative

Whenever you’re using alcohol pads, these tips might come in handy. So we presented a few here.

These will restrain you from messing up with the nails.

Tip 1: Apply Vaseline on The Fingers

Alcohol can irritate the skin area. So you need to be careful. Applying vaseline will ensure that the skin doesn’t get in touch with alcohol.

So before you use alcohol pads on a nail, apply vaseline. But not on the nails, apply it on the fingers. The area that’s closest to the nail, cover with vaseline.

Tip 2: Rub The Pads on Nail Corners

Once you’re done removing all the polish, do one thing. Take another alcohol pad. And wipe the nail corners again. Sometimes the sticky gel sticks to the corners.

Mostly, the cuticle area is sensitive. And some gel polish might stick to it. So this extra care will make sure that nothing is left on the corners. 

You can also use a nail file after that. It will also do the same work. But if you got nail file phobia, stick with the alcohol pads only. 

So far we’ve used these two alcohol pads. They seem to do the work pretty well for us. You can check if you want.

dynarex alcohol prep pad sterile

Dynarex Alcohol Prep Pad Sterile

easytouch alcohol prep pads

EasyTouch Alcohol Prep Pads 

We recommend you keep some in your purse or pocket. These may come in handy anytime. And from our experience, we always got good results. 

Substitute 3 of 3: Vodka/Gin

Here comes another alternative. Well, it’s vodka or gin. You can use any of them. Vodka contains 35 to 90% alcohol. But most of them contain 40% alcohol. So does gin.

 Therefore, you can use either of them.

If you’re short on gel nail cleansers, reach out to your refrigerator or personal bar. Even if you don’t have one in-home, you can always head to the bar. And get one. 

When Vodka/Gin Is The Best Alternative to Gel Nail Cleansers?

Both gel cleanser and vodka have alcohol in them. But vodka/gin itself being alcohol gives it an advantage.

For example, a gel cleanser only has 20% alcohol at best. But gin/vodka has double the amount. So it can remove gel polish faster than gel cleansers.

But it’s not that convenient. You can’t carry around vodka shots if you’re traveling. In that case, you can use a gel cleanser. But in some aspects, vodka/gin can be used as a gel cleanser substitute. Let’s see how.

Point of DifferenceVodka/GinGel Nail Cleanser

Now your confusion regarding vodka/gin usage should have gone. And you might’ve made up your mind to use it. So let’s enlighten you about that. 

How To Use Vodka/Gin As Substitute?

First, start with pouring the vodka into an empty remover bottle. Or put it in a push-down dispenser. Then take cotton pads.

Now take some vodka on the pad. And press the nail. Don’t start rubbing at first. Wait for 5-20 seconds. Then start to rub again and do it gently.

So that the nail doesn’t get hurt. After that move to another nail. When all the nails are done, take another cotton pad.

Now start to repeat the process. It’s basically to double-check that no stickiness remains. 

Few Tips While Using Vodka/Gin As Gel Nail Cleanser Alternative

Whenever you’re learning to use new alternatives, tips are needed. So we thought of giving some to you. So that you can be well trained. And face no difficulties.

See the tips for yourself.

Tip 1: Apply Moisturizer After Using Vodka/Gin

When you use high alcohol, your skin loses moisture. So it becomes dry and flaky. To avoid this misfortune, use a moisturizer afterward.

And add nail cream to the nails. So that they stay healthy and glowy as well. 

Tip 2: Use a Generous Amount of Vodka/Gin

We know vodka/gin is far more expensive than gel cleanser. But you’ve chosen this alternative for feasibility. 

So make the whole cotton pad damp with the liquor. Then wipe your nails with it.

Now that you’ve got the suggestions. Get these alternatives and start using them instead of a gel cleanser. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is there any other alternative for gel cleanser?

Yes there is. You can use isopropyl alcohol instead of a gel cleanser. It evaporates fast. So be careful while using it.

Can I use Acetone based removers to wipe gel nail polish?

No, you can not. That won’t help with the sticky texture. But you can use non-acetone removers to remove gel polish.

How can I use isopropyl alcohol on nails?

You can dip your nails on the liquid. But that might dry out the skin. So better, you pour it in a cotton pad. And wipe the nails.

Parting words

Your search for gel nail cleanser substitute ends here. From now on, you don’t need to get worried. Because you’ll always know which alternative to go for.

Now you can have some confusion. To solve them, ask us anything by commenting. 

Enjoy taking off your polish!

Katharyn Riedel

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