Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?

If you’ve ever woken up to a house that smells like nail polish remover, you probably had two thoughts. First, you must have wondered what in the world could make your house smell so bad, quickly followed by an eager curiosity about how to get rid of the noxious odor.

Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most likely causes of your house smelling like nail polish remover. We’ll also tell you how you can get the smell of acetone out of your house quickly.

Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?

The main ingredient in nail polish remover is acetone. Acetone is also present in many other products, like paint thinner and certain household cleaners.

The smell of aceton in your home is likely due to leaking refrigerants from your AC unit or refrigerator, a gas leak, mold, or from using products that contain acetone such as paint thinner, sealant, or other household cleaners.

silicon sealant leaving a acetone smell

Read on to discover the most common reasons your house might smell like nail polish remover, even if you haven’t done your nails recently.

1. Leaking Refrigerant

Refrigerants have an acetone smell, so if your refrigerator or air conditioning unit malfunctions, you’ll be greeted with the pungent scent of nail polish remover when you come home from work.

All appliances with a cooling function use a refrigerant that smells like acetone to help them cool efficiently so that odor may permeate the air if your appliances are broken or in disrepair.

2. Sewer Gas

Sewer gas is made of a mixture of toxic and nontoxic gases. This gas can enter your home through the drains, a leak, or a blocked roof vent. If you suspect that the acetone odor in your house is coming from sewer gas, you’ll need to take steps to circumvent the leak immediately.

Prolonged exposure to these gasses can lead to asphyxiation or hydrogen sulfide poisoning. Sewer gas is also highly flammable, so be careful not to turn appliances on or off to avoid sparking from the electrical current until you’ve fixed the problem.

3. Short-Circuited Electrical Wires

The electrical wires running behind your walls can become damaged over time or due to rodent activity. If this happens, the chemical odors from the breakdown of plastic, rubber, and insulation can smell like acetone.

If you suspect that faulty wiring is the cause of the nail polish odor in your home, turn off the circuit breaker until you can get it fixed to avoid fires.

4. Mold

Some species of mold can give off an odor similar to nail polish remover due to their biochemical makeup.

Breathing in the gasses released by mold can cause lung irritation, so if you think this is causing the offensive smell in your house, check damp, dark areas like basements, attics, and bathrooms, and carefully remove any spores you see immediately.

5. Caulk or Sealant

If you’ve recently used any caulk or silicone-based sealant on home improvement projects, they might be the reason your house smells like nail polish remover.

They also contain acetone and can leave quite an odor if you don’t properly ventilate your work area.

How To Get Rid of The Acetone Smell In Your House

Getting rid of the smell of nail polish in your house depends on what’s causing the odor in the first place, which means the first step is to identify that cause.

Opening a window for ventilation

Once you’ve figured out where it’s coming from, you can use one or more of these methods to get the horrible smell out of your home.

1. Refrigerant

If you’ve determined the acetone smell in your house is coming from a refrigerant leak, you’ll need to seal the pipes to keep the coolant from leaking.

Sealing these pipes is usually too difficult for the average homeowner, so you’ll need to hire a refrigerator repairman or HVAC tech to fix this issue. If the leak comes from a window air conditioning unit, replacing the appliance will probably be less expensive than repairing it.

2. Sewer Gas Leak

If you discover that your house smells like nail polish because of a sewer gas leak, the first thing you should do is check your drains.

Sometimes a drain that you haven’t used in a long time can dry out. Without water sealing off the trap, sewer gasses can come out of these drains. If you have plumbing that hasn’t been used in a while, you should flush the toilet or run water in the sink or shower for a few minutes.

If a dry trap is your problem, you should notice a significant improvement in the odor inside your house in about 30 minutes to an hour.

If you don’t have any unused plumbing or running water in the unused pipes doesn’t alleviate the smell, the next thing to check is the roof vent. If you have access to this vent, check to ensure no leaves or bird’s nests are blocking it. 

If neither of these smaller issues solves the acetone smell in your home, you probably have a leak in one of your pipes. This type of plumbing emergency is too much for the average homeowner to handle, so you should call a licensed plumber immediately.

Remember, the more sewer gas builds up, the more adverse health effects it can cause. These gases are also highly flammable, so you must address the problem immediately.

3. Faulty Electrical Wires

If you determine that the acetone smell in your home is coming from faulty electrical wires, you should first flip your circuit breaker off. The only way your wiring will smell bad is if it has started to burn through the layers of insulation and rubber inside your walls, so this is a major fire hazard. 

After turning off the power to the damaged area, you’ll need to call a licensed electrician to fix your problem. Electrical problems can be deadly for untrained homeowners, so you should never try to fix faulty wires yourself.

4. Mold Removal

If you discover that mold is the source of the acetone smell in your house, you’ll need to remove it immediately. If the mold hasn’t spread too far, you can probably do this job yourself (steam cleaning can work too).

Mold spores can travel through the air, so make sure you wear gloves, a mask, and protective eyewear to limit your exposure while you clean.

To irradicate the mold, spray the affected area with hydrogen peroxide, white distilled vinegar, or bleach. Allow your cleaning product to sit for an hour so it can fully permeate the mold spores, then scrub off the mold and let the area dry.

5. Ventilation

No matter why your house smells like nail polish remover, after you solve the problem, you can get your home smelling fresh again by increasing ventilation throughout.

Open up the windows and screen doors if you can. Turn on all ceiling and ventilation fans, and add in box fans or window fans if you have them. Use whatever you can to get the air moving. 

For added odor removal, you can use an air purifier with essential oils to infuse a fresh scent into your home. You can also place bowls filled with baking soda around the house to absorb some of the acetone smell and light a scented candle to help mask the odor until it’s gone.


Why does it suddenly smell like nail polish remover?

f you think your house smells like nail polish remover, only to discover that the smell is coming from you, it could be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes. When your body can’t process sugar properly, it will burn fat for energy instead. This process releases chemicals in your body called ketones. One of the ketones released is acetone, which is also the main ingredient in nail polish remover. If you experience acetone-scented breath, call your healthcare provider immediately. 

Does carbon monoxide smell like nail polish?

No, carbon monoxide is entirely odorless. You won’t be able to see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide in your home, but it can cause significant health problems. Too much carbon monoxide can even be fatal.

Why does my air conditioner smell like paint thinner?

If your air conditioner smells like paint thinner or nail polish remover, it’s a sign that your appliance is leaking coolant. 

Guides for removing other smells;


If you wake up to discover that your house smells like nail polish remover, you are probably eager to uncover the cause of the odor and how to make it go away.

Some of the most common reasons your home might smell like acetone include

  • Leaking refrigerant
  • Sewer gas
  • Faulty electrical wires
  • Mold
  • Silicone-based sealants

The first step in getting rid of the acetone smell in your house is locating the source of the odor. When you correct the original problem, increasing ventilation throughout the house will help the smell go away quickly.

Shauna Stone