Why Is There a Strange Nail Polish Smell in My House?

Have you ever encountered a strange nail polish smell in your house? Or rather, have you smelt paint while it’s a decade since you last painted it?

The situation is quite unsettling, right?

STEP 1: Find the problem first, it could be serious. (See below).

STEP 2: Fix the smell with this scent device or this purifier. (They open in new tabs).

Not many people can withstand the strange smell. I’m not about to tell you how to keep up with it.

Sometimes it’s a signal that something is going horribly wrong. Apart from hurting your nostrils, it may prove deadly.

Therefore, swiftly springing into action and finding the source of this smell is critical. As you guessed, deodorizing won’t solve the issue.

Additionally, handling the matter without a hint may get very confusing. Let me help you with this and find out all the possible causes of such smells.

Why Is There a Strange Nail Polish Smell in My House?

Random acetone smell in house

The most likely cause of that strange nail polish odor in your house is gas leakage.

The refrigerant gas in refrigerators smells like acetone—the solvent used in nail polish and nail polish removers.

Besides gas leaks from air conditioners, heat pumps have a similar odor.

The list is far from conclusive. If you’ve popped open a tube of nail polish and you experience the sharp pungent smell, it has to be acetone! 

However, apart from gas leaks, there are many other things whose smell resembles nail polish.

Because it’s agonizing to stay in such a smelly house, let’s explore all possible causes of such odor.

1. Gas Leakage from a Refrigerator

In every refrigerator, there’s a refrigerant. It’s a gas used as the heat carrier in the refrigeration cycle, and it contains acetone.

Therefore, when a faulty refrigerator leaks the gas, an acetone odor engulfs your house. You may confuse it with nail polish because they just smell the same.

2. Refrigerant Gas Leakage

A refrigerant isn’t only found in refrigerators but also HVAC systems like ductless mini-split, air conditioners, and heat pumps.

The systems rely on chemical compounds for the heating and cooling process.

However, the refrigerant starts to leak for old or casually maintained systems. It releases gas fumes that reek of acetone, or rather nail polish.

3. Caulk

Sealants made of caulk or silicon material smell like nail polish. The odor is more predominant if the sealed area is poorly ventilated.

4. Sewer Gas

Sewer gas has that characteristic nail polish smell. When the gas leaks through a crack, your house may have this odor.

5. Mold

House walls usually grow molds and mildew, especially those in rooms with constant exposure to moisture like the kitchen and bathroom.

Additionally, air conditioner systems accumulate moisture during hot weather, fostering bacteria growth.

Subsequently, when the AC is running, the smell of nail polish engulfs the house.

Molds and mildew smell like acetone because of the chemicals they emit when growing.

6. Faulty Electric Wires

Electric faults involving short circuits and burnt rubber insulation emit chemicals that smell like nail polish.

If your electric system emits smoke or power has gone off, and you smell acetone, you may need to call an electrician.

7. Paint

Fresh paint has a distinct smell that resembles nail polish.

Therefore, if your house has a new coat of paint less than one week old, that should be the source of the smell.

8. Dead and Living Rodents

During cold weather, rodents may build lairs inside HVAC systems. Some even die there.

When the system is turned on, it forces the strong odor of their urine, feces, or decaying bodies through the vents making your room smell like nail polish.

How Do You Remove the Smell of Nail Polish Remover from Your Home?

The first step in removing the nail polish smell from your house is identifying its source.

The second step is to finally remove the smell with this or this.

We’ve also had success using this (the image link is clickable if you want to learn more about it):

NEOM – Wellbeing Pod | Premium Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser | Ceramic Cover, LED Light & Timer | Aromatherapy Diffuser | Home Fragrance

The method chosen as a remedy for the pungent smell depends on its location.

1. Solving a Refrigerant Leakage Problem

If the acetone smell comes from a leaking system, you need to seal the pipes to keep the gas contained.

Unless you’re an HVAC system expert, you may need to seek professional help for the exercise. If done carelessly, the toxic gases may ultimately ruin your health.

2. Removing Acetone

Acetone isn’t only an ingredient in nail polish, it’s also used for cleaning purposes.

Therefore, if you realize the smell is from acetone residue, clean it well using essential oils to remove the smell.

3. Getting Rid of Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew usually thrive in damp areas.

If you confirm that the acetone odor is coming from such areas, scrape off the molds and clean the areas to get rid of them.

4. Replacing Sewer Pipes

You need to seek the services of an expert to repair or change your sewer pipe if you find out that the smell indeed comes from there.

5. Exposing Caulked Areas to Fresh Air

If you wish to get rid of the acetone-like smell in caulked areas, you need to ventilate or place a fan near them.

6. Ventilating Newly Painted Rooms

To remove the nail polish smell from fresh paint, allow it to dry. Further, ventilate the room to allow the smell to escape.

7. Repair Faulty Electric Wires

If you find out the source of the nail polish smell is a faulty electric system, seek the services of an electrician to untangle and replace the wires causing a short circuit.

8. Dead and Living Animals

Ultimately, if dead and trespassing animals cause the smell, you need to track them with your sense of smell and eradicate them.


Is The Strange Nail Polish Odor In Your House Dangerous?

Yes, if the odor is related to acetone gas. Acetone gas is highly flammable and can catch fire if exposed to flame.

On the other hand, it’s not a breathable gas. Apart from causing nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, it can irritate your nose, throat, and lungs.

How Can I Mask The Nail Polish Smell In My House?

If you don’t want to spray deodorants like Febreze, you can grind fresh coffee beans in a glass container and stir.

Once your stir them, their fragrant smell spreads across the house.

Alternatively, pour essential oils into a glass bowl half-filled with water. Their aromatic smell masks the nail polish odor.

Final Thoughts

Whenever your house smells like nail polish paint, your first instinct may be to deodorize it.

Although that’s perfectly fine, you shouldn’t stop at that. The odor is often a cue for some chemical process going on.

Your refrigerator, heat pump, or even air conditioner may be leaking the refrigerant.

Furthermore, you may have a sewer leakage, mold, caulked surfaces, or even a faulty electric system.

Once you solve the source of the smell and fix any safety concerns, your next step is to use either (or both) of these solutions: remove the smell or purify the air.

Finally, I did mention that the smell resembles that of paint. Perhaps you’re wondering where the strange smell is coming from, yet you painted your house a day ago!