Why Is There a Strange Plastic Smell in My House?

Waking up to a strange odor in your home is always an unwelcome experience, particularly when it’s the irritating scent of plastic.

A burning plastic smell isn’t something you’d want to put off checking until tomorrow because it can indicate a wiring problem.

Overheated appliances are also something that you should check first.

If the smell dissipates after checking the wires and appliances at home, then congratulations, you have nipped the fire hazard in the bud.

But if not, don’t worry, it can be an entirely different case. Check the other potential causes below to get rid of that strange plastic smell that’s plaguing your house.

What’s the Reason Behind the Strange Plastic Smell in My House?

What do you do if your house smells like plastic?

A strange plastic smell in houses can stem from a variety of reasons. Let us explore some of the primary causes that may result in this issue.

Remember, the first step is to find the source of the odor (see all of the steps below). After knowing the issue, you can get on the next steps of addressing it.

1. Mildew and Mold

The presence of mold and mildew in your home may, strangely enough, emit a pleasant odor.

Whether it is in the basement, kitchen, or bathroom, mold and mildew build-up can cause a plastic, pungent fragrance or a plastic sticky smell. 

Mold and mildew result due to the presence of water, fluid, and moisture in certain areas of your home.

While the scent of mold and mildew may seem plastic and pleasant, it can still be injurious to your health and hygiene.

2. Refrigerant Leakage

A plastic odor in your home may also result from a refrigerant leakage situation. Refrigerant is a substance that aids in the proper operation of a refrigerator. 

If your refrigerant leaks, it can give off a strangely plastic scent.

If the leak is not fixed immediately, it can lead to serious medical problems as the refrigerant contains some hazardous components.

3. Air Conditioner Leakage

Like refrigerants, air conditioners too come with a liquid that helps aid proper function. If this air conditioner liquid escapes, your house may smell plastic and maple syrup-like. 

Air conditioning leakages occur when formic acids from various parts of your home combine with the copper in your air conditioner.

4. Furnace Leakage

Another source of a plastic scent circulating your home could be a leaking furnace. 

In most cases, the heat exchanger in the furnace pumps hot air via the air ducts. If it spills, it will emit a pleasant, formaldehyde-like smell. 

However, unlike the other reasons, this plastic smell is out of the ordinary, potentially signifying a threat that must be addressed right away.

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that may leak from heat exchangers.

While carbon monoxide does not have a distinct smell, it can occasionally give off a pleasant and plastic odor. 

If your heat exchanger starts to give off a plastic smell, shut it down immediately and get it looked at by a professional.

5. Paint

A plastic smell in your house can be extremely noticeable and unpleasant.

If you’ve noticed this smell, it’s important to figure out where it’s coming from so you can take steps to eliminate it. 

One potential source of a plastic smell is paint.

When paint dries, the solvent evaporates and leaves behind a strong plastic odor. This smell will eventually dissipate, but it can linger for weeks or even months. 

If the smell is coming from paint, the best way to get rid of it is to open up windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate.

You can also try using an air purifier or activated charcoal to absorb the odor. If the smell persists, you may need to repaint the affected area.

6. Chloroform

Chloroform gas can give off a nice odor in your home despite not having a significant odor of its own.

Chloroform is a harmless gas that occurs naturally in the environment. Manufactured chloroform, on the other hand, can be quite hazardous.

7. Furniture

You just bought some new plastic furniture for your home and now you can’t get rid of the plastic smell.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is a common problem with newly purchased plastic furniture. 

The good news is that there are a few things you can do to get rid of the smell.

First, try airing out the piece of furniture by placing it in a well-ventilated room. If the smell persists, you can try wiping down the surface of the furniture with a solution of vinegar and water. 

This will help to neutralize the odor.

Finally, if all else fails, you can try using an air freshener or scented candle to mask the smell. With a little patience, the plastic smell should eventually dissipate.

8. Lack of Air Circulation

This is a rare occurrence, but a plastic smell in your home can result from reduced air circulation.

This is typically the case when you come home after a vacation and encounter a faint plastic smell diffused in your home. 

When you go on vacation, your house does not receive enough ventilation and air circulation.

Consequently, you may notice a plastic odor when you return home. In general, this odor does not linger around for long.


How can you get rid of the plastic smell from your home?

If you know the root cause of the issue, you can direct your eradication efforts accordingly to get rid of the smell.

What to do if the smell is due to molds?

If the plastic odor is the result of mold and mildew build-up, you must clean them to eliminate the smell. 

Clean any areas that are exposed to persistent wetness like the kitchen, bathroom, and basement, for example.

Cleaning carpets, rugs, mats, and other such items can also be beneficial.

How to fix refrigerator and air conditioner leaks?

To address a refrigerant or air conditioner leak, it is best to seek expert assistance.

How to deal with a furnace leak?

If you suspect a furnace leak, get professional assistance right away and evacuate your home because carbon monoxide leakages can be very dangerous.

Can I fix the ventilation problem?

You can remedy a ventilation problem by ensuring that the house has adequate ventilation.

Open the house’s doors and windows and switch on the fans to allow air circulation.

I am experiencing chemical odors. What to do?

If you notice other gases or substances that have a plastic fragrance in your home, you should seek professional help because you may not be aware of how hazardous the fumes or chemicals are.

Final Thoughts

A strange plastic smell in houses is a common household problem that many of us experience every now and then.

It’s always wise to open the doors and windows of your home to allow a better and more effective way to ventilate your space.

You should do it first, especially if it’s a burning plastic smell, as it can emit toxic fumes that are absolutely not good for your family’s health.

We hope that the eight causes we have discussed above help you in identifying the cause of this problem.

After that, you’ll be more guided on the next steps to get rid of this issue.

And while you’re at it, having a trusty air purifier and a scent machine at home makes you feel assured that you’ll never have to worry about this strange plastic smell again.

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