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Why Does It Smell Like a Nail Polish Remover in My House

Why Does It Smell Like a Nail Polish Remover in My House

When you pop open a bottle of acetone, or nail polish remover, you expect to be hit with the acetonic smell of the solvent. But if you’re experiencing this smell and haven’t used a nail polish remover recently, it can be a bit disconcerting. So why does it smell like nail polish remover in your house?

We’ve got several possible explanations for why you’re smelling this solvent in your house. Some of the likely culprits include:

  1. Refrigerator gas leak
  2. HVAC system refrigerant leak
  3. Paint
  4. Caulk
  5. Sewer gas

These are just some of the common sources of the acetone smell. And, of course, it could even be what it seems to be – a nail polish remover spill. Do your due diligence to investigate the source of the odor.

In this article, I will help you identify the mystery behind the acetone-like smell in your house and explain possible solutions for removing it. Read on to learn more about how to pinpoint and solve the situation at hand.

Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?

The unpleasant nail polish remover smell in your house could be from one or several reasons; refrigerant leaks, paint, caulk, sewer gas, or even mold. So, the repercussions could be much more serious than just the odor.

Let’s look at each of these possibilities and how to identify them.

Refrigerator Gas Leakage

If you’ve ever wondered about the mystery behind placing a bottle of your favorite drink into a refrigerator only to pick it up minutes or a few hours chilled, it’s all thanks to the gas refrigerant. The gas used in refrigerators is known as isobutane, but some use norflurane gas.

It’s this gas that the fans inside the fridge are blowing to cool your drinks. But when the fridge is old or not well-maintained, it’s also possible for the refrigerant to leak out and make its way into your home, causing a smell similar to that of nail polish remover.

Your fridge blowing hot air, accumulating water at the bottom, or having rapid cycles, are all good indicators of gas leakage. You may also notice old oil stains and frost or ice buildup on the copper wires.

HVAC System Refrigerant Leak

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in your home is another common source of the nail polish remover smell. The HVAC system uses refrigerant gases to circulate cold and warm air through the home.

When there is a refrigerant leak, it can make its way into your home as well and create the odor you’re smelling.

To identify if your HVAC system is leaking refrigerant, check for any visible signs of a leak, such as a puddle or pool of liquid, a hissing noise from the vents, or any structural damage to the unit itself. 


If you’ve recently painted your house, you could be dealing with the smell of nail polish remover. Paint does smell similar to acetone, especially when the coat is still fresh.

Plus, it could be that you used a paint remover in your painting project. The stripper contains acetone as one of the ingredients, which could also be the reason behind the lingering smell.


Caulks often come in handy in most DIY projects. But then, have you known that all types of caulks contain solvents like acetone and toluene?

Well, that’s why the smell of nail polish remover is apparent after you’ve used them, especially if you were working in a poorly ventilated area.

Sewer Gas

If neither of the above justifies the smell, check for a crack in your home’s drainage system. You may also want to inspect your sewer system to see if it’s generally in good condition. In case you find any problem, it could be the source of your problem.

The processes that take place in the drainage system and the pipes produce a strong odor, which you may perceive as nail polish remover.


Our homes offer an attractive abode for mold growth. Damp surfaces, condensation, and poor air circulation are the usual suspects.

Mold can cause the characteristic acetone smell that can easily spread throughout the house, especially once it attacks the HVAC system.

If mold turns out to be the actual cause, take necessary precautions immediately, as even the least harmful mold species can cause deleterious health effects.

Electrical Wire Issues

It’s a very unlikely source of the smell, but electrical wires can also be the cause. It’s possible that some wiring has melted or been damaged due to a short circuit, causing the smell of burning wires and, thus, that of acetone.

Does Carbon Monoxide Smell Like Nail Polish?

No, carbon monoxide does not smell like nail polish. It has no odor whatsoever, so that’s why you’ll need to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. The detector will alert you whenever there’s a potentially dangerous level of carbon monoxide present in the air.

You see, one thing that makes carbon monoxide more fatal is the fact that you can’t smell, taste, or even see it. But your detector will sense even the faintest presence of this odorless gas and ensure your family is safe.

But then again, that’s not to say that you can ignore the smell of nail polish remover that you notice in your home. As seen, it could denote danger. So, it pays to be cautious and investigate the source of the smell as soon as possible.

Does a Gas Leak Smell Like Nail Polish?

Yes, a gas leak can smell like nail polish remover. In fact, a refrigerator gas leak is one of the most common causes of this type of odor. Refrigerants and other gases used in HVAC systems, like Freon, are also known to leak sometimes and cause the same smell.

If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult a professional for assistance. They’ll have the necessary tools to check for a gas leak and fix it before it causes any harm. As long as you take fast action, you should be able to solve the problem quickly.

How Do You Get Rid Of The Smell of Nail Polish Remover in Your House?

Getting rid of the nail polish remover-like smell in your house is often a straightforward process once you identify the source. If you have a problem locating the source, you can bring in a professional to help.

Professional odor removal services can also be of great help. They’ll use specialized equipment to locate the source of the smell and then deodorize your home with special products that can neutralize the odor.

Solution To Refrigerant Gas Leakage Problem

If it turns out that you have a fridge gas leak, it’s important to get it fixed right away. Refrigerant is essential to the cooling process, and any leakage can put your family in danger.

You’ll need to call a professional for this task unless you are one. Professional technicians have the knowledge and experience to properly handle a fridge gas leak. They’ll also advise you on maintaining your refrigerator to avoid future gas leaks.

Solving Acetone-Like Smell From Your HVAC System

If the smell is coming from your HVAC system, you’ll need to troubleshoot it. If a clogged filter or ductwork is what’s causing the smell, you can try to take care of it yourself.

However, if there’s something wrong with your HVAC system, you call a professional. Any guesswork you do may lead to even bigger problems.

Getting Rid of Mold/Mildew

Where you can attribute the smell to mold or mildew, you’ll need to take the necessary steps for removal. Mold and mildew can cause serious health issues, so it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible.

You can use bleach solution (1 cup of bleach for a gallon of water) to clean mold and mildew off surfaces. You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home and prevent further growth of mold and mildew.

But if you want to avoid all the hassle, you can always hire a professional mold remediation service. They’ll inspect your home, pinpoint the major sources of mold, and then work on getting rid of them.

Eliminating Acetone-Like Smell From Caulk And Paint

Once you’ve identified caulk or paint as the culprit, you can easily eliminate the smell by ventilating the area. The acetone content in these products can only be smelled if working in a poorly ventilated area.

So, open your windows or turn on the fans to eliminate the smell. With a little patience, the smell should dissipate.

Solution To Sewer Gas Smell

If your house smells like a nail polish remover due to sewer gas, you can consider replacing your plumbing system or having it maintained. There are certain problems with the sewage system that cause these odors, and they need to be taken care of as soon as possible.

You can also use a product like enzyme-based drain cleaners or septic tank treatments to help solve the problem. If the smell persists, you can consider calling a professional for assistance.

Electric Wiring Problem

Where the problem lies with the electrical wiring, you’ll need to hire a licensed electrician. Electrical wires can cause serious safety issues, and it’s best to leave such repairs to an experienced professional.


The smell of nail polish remover in your house doesn’t have to be a cause for concern. With the right steps and a bit of patience, you can easily find the source of the smell and get rid of it. Whether you decide to do the work yourself or hire a professional, make sure you take care of the issue before it leads to any more serious problems.