Why Does My Car Smell Like Nail Polish Remover?– The Reasons & Solutions

Have you just bought a new car? Or you may have opened the car door and suddenly noticed a weird smell coming from inside. You may find it like a nail polish remover, but you need to know the source from where it is coming. You may ask, “why does my car smell like nail polish remover?”

In short, there can be several reasons why you get a smell like a nail polish remover in your car. They can be the spillage of nail polish remover, fuel or oil leakages, vehicle cleaning products, or even the air freshener.

Nobody wants such a foul odor. So, I am here to explain the reasons, impacts, and solutions to getting smell like nail polish remover in the car. I suggest you read the whole post for complete ideas on this topic.

A Common Problem – Car Smells Like Nail Polish Remover

This scenario is not uncommon, as anyone can face it. Owners of different cars have reported this issue on different forums. Most of them got this smell when they turned on the air conditioner. In this section, I will share some of these discussions.

Someone on Reddit reported facing this issue in a new car when he turned on the air conditioner. He said,

“…every time the a/c was on in my mom’s car (Honda) I would smell nail polish remover.”

Another thread on Reddit also speaks about the same problem. The author got nail polish or a varnish like smell from the car exhaust.

I have had at least five cars that had/have the smell of varnish or nail polish from the exhaust.

On the same thread, another person wrote,

“I get the same smell in the winter when it’s cold…”

An Audi owner found his car’s air-conditioner smelt like acetone/nail polish/chemical. He wrote in this way,

“…noticing a chemical smell in my car when first starting the engine / AC that reminds me of nail polish remover.”

On Turbo Bricks, one owner of Volvo S70 also found an acetone-like smell in his vehicle. Acetone is the main ingredient of nail polish remover. Thus, he inspected his car but has yet to find a source from where the smell appeared. “No visible spillage. Smell tends to dissipate when the car is in motion…

AHonda Accord Ex Coupe owner also discovered the odd scent of nail polish remover. Yet he believed the air conditioner compressor was responsible.

Like the above discussions, this problem is common among most cars. Now, I will discuss the possible reasons for having this problem in your vehicle.

Why Does My Car Smell like Nail Polish Remover? – The Reasons

So, you have got an irritating odor while you open the door or drive the car. Some possible reasons to have this kind of smell are:

Someone Spilled Nail Polish Remover

It could be why your vehicle smells like a nail polish remover. If you or anyone among the passengers do some nail art with nail polish (or remover), spilling it is possible. As a result, it can leave a strong odor.

You can use a paper towel or rag to clean the spilled nail Polish remover. After that, clean the whole area using a vehicle cleaner or just a soapy water solution.

Leakages of Fuel

Gasoline and nail Polish remover may have a similar odor. The leakage of fuel or gasoline can produce a pungent smell. Hence, fuel leakage it’s hazardous in any situation.

So, you should check out the engine if this is the reason. If you can find out where the leakage happened, it is ideal to contact the mechanic.

Leakages of Oil

Another possible source of the smell is an oil leak. It can happen if the gasket or seal around the engine is damaged. And the damage may cause oil to escape.

When the oil is leaked, the engine can be burned off. Then it will smell like a nail polish remover. Like fuel leakage, you should sort it out too.

AC Refrigerant Leakage

Do you run your car air conditioner often? Then you may experience a lousy nail polish smell. Let me explain this matter in detail. Any vehicle has refrigerant or freon in its AC system. Likewise, it has strong-smelling chemicals, and it spreads through quick evaporation.

Eventually, when the refrigerant leaks, you may or may not get the smell. It depends on the quantity of the leakage. Extensive leakage may spread the odor of nail polish remover. Therefore, you should inspect if your air conditioner is working fine.

Using Chemical-Based Cleaning Products

Have you used any chemical-based cleaning products recently? It can be a reason to have a nail polish fragrance in your favorite car. Consequently, there are lots of cleaning products that leave an irresistible smell behind.

So, keep your car windows open when you use them. Also, wait for the air from inside to come outside. It may reduce the foul smell of nail polish remover.

Low-Quality Car Air Fresheners

Air fresheners are a great way to improve the car’s air quality. But it can be another reason or source to create the unexpected smell. Though their main purpose is to leave a pleasant odor, they often generate this nuisance if they are of low quality.

If this is the case, I suggestusing a new brand of air fresheners that may fulfill your needs without leaving a lousy scent.

How to Remove Bad Odor from Your Car?

Let’s move to the next section of this discussion. Here I explain some ways to remove any unwanted odor from your car. I hope you won’t miss reading this part.

Proper Ventilation

Ensuring proper ventilation in your car is always good for keeping the internal environment healthy and odor-free. So, roll down the windows and let fresh air circulate through the cabin. Another way that can be turned on they are conditioner to circulate the air properly.

Quality Air Freshener

You can find lots of brands that offer high-quality air fresheners. Try out different flavors of these stuffs. Also, invest in a high-quality air freshener that suits your preferences. Choose an air freshener that neutralizes odors instead of masking them.

Interior Cleaning

It is the most effective way to dissipate any smell of nail polish remover. You may try several methods of cleaning the interior. The first one would be using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment. Also, you may use a steam cleaner purposefully built for interior car cleaning.

Another way can be using a carpet cleaner to remove any dust besides the bad smell. After all, regularly cleaning your car, removing trash and other clutter, and avoiding smoking inside the car can help to prevent foul odors from building up.

Natural Deodorizer

Like air fresheners, you will find many natural deodorizers in the market. They can effectively remove bad odor from your car. For example, baking soda or charcoal can remove the nail Polish remover scent.

Car Washing

Take a bar of car soap and start washing the outside of your car. Next, take a car cleaning hose to rinse offthe soap. Hence, if you find the source of the smell is the tires, clean them with a tire cleaner.

Regular washing of your car can help remove dirt, debris, and other odor sources. Use a car-specific soap and clean the exterior, wheels, and undercarriage.

Ozone Generator

Many car owners use ozone generators to dissipate chemicals or bad smells from the car. You can find top-notch devices online suitable for your vehicle. Usually, it takes half an hour to set up the device. After installation, dealing with the nail polish remover smell will take several minutes.

Household Materials to Remove the Smell of Nail Polish Remover

Some household materials can help you to remove the smell of nail polish remover. Here are some of them:


Charcoal can absorb toxins well. So, you may see it as a common ingredient of any filter. Similarly, it can remove the nasty odor of nail polish remover from your car. The porous characteristic of charcoal helps to absorb any floating odor. Thus, take a bag of charcoal and leave it open overnightinside your car.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is also helpful in expelling odors from the car. It contains abrasive and alkaline ingredients to fight against stains and smells. After finding the nail polish smell source,  slightly wet down that area.

Next, sprinkle some baking soda over that area and leave 8 for a couple of hours. After drying it, use a vacuum cleaner. You will see the magic! No bad smell.

Distilled White Vinegar

You can find this household cleaning product in most kitchens. It is a good choice for eliminating over powering odors. So, pour some vinegar in a cup or a bowl. Then keep it inside the car overnight to remove the bad smell inside your vehicle.

You may also dilute distilled white vinegar with water and spray it on the carpets, seats, and other surfaces. Vinegar can help to neutralize the odor and disinfect the surfaces.

Coffee Grounds

Who doesn’t love the smell of coffee? Take some fresh coffee grounds and dump them inside a paper bag. Then, let them sit in your car for a daywithout leaving the doors open.The next day, there will be no sign ofsmells like nail polish remover.

Orange Peels

Many people, including me, love the scent of orange. The citrus aroma can help to neutralize the foul odor and leave your car smelling fresh.

So, you can try orange peels to remove any unwanted or stubborn odors from the car. Typically, it works great if you have already removed the smell source. It can remove leftover sand after cleaning the vehicle. To do this, place some orange peels in a plastic bag.

Essential Oil

Using some essential oils is the last method of removing the nail polish remover smell. Just add some essential oil drops to a handkerchief. Then leave the cloth inside the car. It will mask the unpleasant odor quickly. Also, you will get a fresh smell for a long time.


Why does my car smell like nail polish remover? I hope you have got the complete answer to this question. So I suggest first identifying the source and then trying to clean or remove the bad smell following the methods I have discussed.

I hope there will be no more bad odors in your car. I admire you for spending your precious moments here reading this blog.

Have an excellent driving!