house smells like nail polish remover
Kristina Davis

This room could as well be yours, and you may have been wondering why your house smells like nail polish remover.

Have you ever walked into a room and the first thing that hits you is the sweet, pungent smell of nail polish remover – this is usually common in beauty salons.

In some situations, the smell hits you so hard that your eyes begin to water.

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I will be bringing my wealth of knowledge once more to help you understand why this happens and how to deal with it.

Just stay with me and from this educational piece, you will get to know more about the nail polish remover we use.

The common cause of this smell is gas leakage. You need to use cuticle oil or spray an agent that neutralizes odor, such as febreeze all over your room.

Oh! That Smell

the smell of house

Nail polish removers, although considered hazardous beauty products are indeed very necessary – how else can we blot out old nail polish from our fingers (for those who do their nails).

The moment a bottle of the nail polish remover is opened and you proceed to use it, a chemical smell will circulate and linger in the room’s space.

It is even stronger where there is poor ventilation as it settles in the air and onto surfaces in the room.

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Let’s see what nail polish removers are made of, then we will understand why it smells that way.

Nail Polish Remover. Its Make And Effects

nail polish remover

Key fact: Nail polish removers are considered to be more dangerous than nail polish itself.

Note: The majority of chemicals used in the making of nail polish remover have been branded as harmful and very toxic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The following chemicals are used in nail polish removers; Ethyl Acetate, Toluene, Propylene Carbonate, Acetone

Acetone: this one’s a natural occurrence found in a variety of fruits and vegetables (grapes and onions are common examples).

Acetone has been proven to be flammable and its side effects include irritation to the eyes, skin, and breathing.

the acetone

Toluene: this chemical is gotten from crude oil and its side effects could kick in despite exposure being minimal. Confusion, tiredness, and nausea are some of its side effects.

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Propylene Carbonate: This one is categorized as relatively harmless but can be a cause of irritation to the eyes, skin, and lungs.

Ethyl Acetate: usually substituting for acetone but poses almost the same risks as acetone

What Exactly Causes The Smell?

the cause of smell

Yes, now you know what is used in making your nail polish remover, and why your house smells like nail polish remover whenever you pop that bottle.

It is the solvent acetone; it works by breaking down the ingredients in paint by thinning it or allowing surface removal.

Additional fact: people who suffer from diabetes produce high amounts from their body Acetone BO, which gives off a smell that is similar to nail polish remover.

Now that we have established the fact that Acetone is the key reason why your house smells like nail polish remover.

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It is possible that the source of the smell may not be nail polish especially when you are certain nail polish has never been used in or around the house.

Other Sources of Acetone smell

sources of acetone

These are some sources of acetone smell: sewer gas, mold, and mildew, using silicone-based or caulk sealant, electrical wire issues

Sewer Gas

You already know that when your house smells like nail polish remover it is most likely a result of acetone which can be present in other places as well.

A crack in the sewer can allow sewer gas to escape, spreading all over the house. This gives off a nail polish remover-like smell.

Mold And Mildew
molds and mildew

Moisture on the wall and other places left unattended over time are bound to build up into mold and mildew that gives off a pungent smell similar to that of acetone.


Silicon-based sealant and caulk can also give off that smell only too familiar to that of acetone.

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If you have not used a nail polish remover in your house, then you should cast your mind back if you have caulked any area of your house, especially in a poorly ventilated area, then the smell is bound to spread.

Electrical Wire Issues
wire issues

This is a very unlikely source of the smell of acetone when there is a short circuit problem.

A wire that has been short-circuited can burn in the junction box.

The burning of the plastic and rubber coating together will release that acetone-like smell.

Gas Leakages

Gas leakage from household appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. will give off that acetone-like smell similar to that from a nail polish remover.

Getting Rid of the Smell

steps to get rid of smell

Locate the Source

When you perceive smells like nail polish remover in your house, you must try to pinpoint its source first of all, especially when you have not used a nail polish remover in your house.

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You now know other sources of the acetone-like smell in a house, put that knowledge to use.

Step #1: Fix the Pipe

The easiest thing to do here is to get professional help to fix or replace the leaking sewer pipe.

Step #2: Clean Mold and Mildew

When you notice that the source of the smell is as a result of mold and mildew then it is important to clean that area thoroughly.

Step #3: Ventilate the Area

ventilating area

A major reason why the smell is usually so pungent in the first place is that there is little or no ventilation.

The easiest way to fix this is to fix ventilation issues, once there is better circulation of air, the smell naturally disperses.

Step #4: Throw in Baking Soda and Coffee Bean

One of the ABCs of chemistry is the knowledge that bases can neutralize acids. Baking soda is a base.

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Putting two and two together means that baking soda can indeed work well to neutralize the acetone-like smell.

It works by reacting with butyric acid which forms sodium butyrate which is non-volatile and usually has no smell.

Step #5: Use Perfumes and other Scents

Air fresheners and perfumes can also cover the smell of nail polish remover in your house.

Can you Avoid Nail Polish Removers?

avoiding nail polish remover

Besides other sources of the smell of acetone, the major reason why your house smells like nail polish remover is actually a nail polish remover in your home.

We have seen that the chemicals in nail polish removers are not entirely healthy, there are other alternatives to those removers if you want to take off nail polish from your finger.

Fact: a key benefit of non-acetone removers is that it is milder on the nails.

Other Alternatives

alternatives for polish remover

Use alcohol –  Use of alcohol is an easy method to remove nail polish.

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Lemon – Lemon is also considered a great agent to tackle nail polish.

Hairspray – You can actually use hairspray in place of nail polish. It is a better option.

Soy-based removers – Soy-based removers are natural, odorless, and very safe.

Post-removal care –  This is also a safer and better option.

The downside to these methods is that they act slower compared to traditional nail polish removers.


Remember that getting the source of the smell is always very important as it may not be from a nail polish remover after all.

You know the major reason and answer to “why my house smells like nail polish remover”, thanks to me and you are welcome.

I need just one favor from you, just share this article with loved ones (sharing is indeed caring), and stay safe (okay, that’s two favors).

Adios amigo.