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Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?

Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?

Noticed a nail polish remover smell in your home? Unravel the potential causes behind this distinct odor and how to address it. Let’s sniff out the answers together!

The distinct smell of a nail polish-like odor can arise from several sources, some potentially harmful. Whether it’s a fridge gas leak, HVAC mold, or recent home renovations, pinpointing the cause is crucial.

Dive in to discern the root of the aroma and ensure your home’s safety.

Nail Polish Remover Odor Sources 

It is quite common for people to overreact when they first notice this smell in their homes.

Although it is important to take immediate action to figure out where the scent is coming from, you should also know that not every source of this smell is dangerous or harmful. 

Be sure to assess each potential odor source carefully so that you can confirm that it is not going to be a health hazard.

Let’s break down each possible odor source for nail polish remover in your home. 

Refrigerator Gas Leak 

If you notice this smell, the first place that you should check is your refrigerator. If your fridge is leaking gas, it often smells just like nail polish remover, which can potentially be a health hazard for you and anyone in your house. 

Normally, this becomes quite evident if the smell intensifies when you get closer to your fridge.

If that is the case, then you can assume that the fridge is leaking freon, which is a harmful chemical

In small doses, a refrigerator gas leak is not something that is too worrisome, as it takes a build up of the gas to cause any serious damage to your health or pose any life-threatening risks.

However, you should take action to fix the leak as soon as possible.


Air Conditioner & Other Devices 

Suppose your refrigerator was not the source of the nail polish remover scent.

In that case, you should check every device in your home that distributes heating or cooling, with your air conditioning unit being the next likely culprit.

You should assess the following potential sources for the scent:

  • Air conditioner
  • Heating system
  • Mini-split air conditioner 

The good news is that if it is coming from one of these sources, then it is likely not a chemical leak and is probably due to mold building up.

The bad news is that it can be tricky to remove depending on where it is coming from and how challenging the source is to access for cleaning. 

Mold in a heating or cooling unit should not be black mold, so the odor will likely not pose serious safety risks.

However, the smell is still unpleasant, and it can potentially cause some respiratory problems if not tended to, especially for those with pre-existing conditions like asthma. 


Although heating and cooling systems are the first places to check, they are by no means the only places in your home that may have a build-up of mold.

Depending on the type of mold that it is, it may or may not be overly harmful to your health.

With that being said, it is best to identify where the mold is right away so that you can eliminate it.

Mold is caused by moisture and fungus building up – usually in your walls or ceiling.

You should take a look in areas like your kitchen and bathroom, as these are the most common places to find mold in a household. 

If you did not see any traces, you might want to check less obvious areas such as your attic or basement, as you may have a water leak somewhere that is encouraging the spread of the fungus.


A common false alarm for a serious nail polish remover smell is caulk.

If you have just done some renovations, patch jobs, or other minor home repairs, you may have used caulk during the process. 

This is an injected material that you would use to seal joints, and cracks or prevent potential leaks.

Caulk can smell a lot like nail polish remover, especially if it is fresh and not fully hardened. If you are smelling an acetone odor due to caulk, do not be alarmed as you can solve this issue very easily.

All you need to do is open up some windows and let in some proper ventilation to air out your house, and the smell should pass shortly. 


It is easy to confuse the smell of nail polish remover with paint.

Both of these sources have pretty toxic smells, and they can easily resemble one another, especially if you are using cheap paints. 

A lot of people sense this odor after recently painting their home.

The smell can last for days or even longer, which is why you want to give your home plenty of ventilation after you paint your home to get rid of the odor. 

Summing Up Nail Polish Remover Smell

Smelling nail polish remover in your home, especially when none of it has been used, can be alarming. However, don’t worry too much, and make sure to check the areas we listed above to investigate the cause of the odor.

Consult a professional if you need to fix something like a fridge freon leak, but other issues are easily fixable by a few simple steps.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.