How to Get Rid of Nail Polish Smell

Nail polish smell makes fingers and toes look great when applied correctly, but the stench as it dries is something else. It is a unique scent that makes the hair inside your nostrils sit up and take notice (and probably straighten out right in your nostril), and once you inhale it, you can’t get away from it. This is a clear case of suffering to be beautiful, since you are likely to end up with a headache with any type of prolonged exposure to this insidious reek. This guide will give you some helpful tips on on how to get rid of nail polish smell.

The stuff women use to paint their nails is made from nitrocellulose, which is dissolved in a solvent. It is either left clear or colored with different pigments to create the precise fashion shades that are in vogue this season. Nail polish used by ladies (and certain gentlemen who want to express their individuality) is a particular refined version of car paint. This fact explains why the stuff stinks the way it does.

How to Get Rid of Nail Polish Smell from Your Hands

1 Apply Cuticle Oil

How long does nail polish smell lastOne option to neutralize nail polish smell is to apply a cuticle oil to the nails. You have a number of options to choose from, including products that can be applied with a pen or a stick. Some manufacturers provide an applicator that looks like a fine brush. As a bonus, these products may contain anti-fungal or antibacterial properties that will keep your nails free from diseases or disorders that can cause them to dry out.

2 Rub in Some Olive Oil

How long does nail polish smell lastGo to your kitchen and grab some olive oil if the smell from nail polish is getting to you. Apply it to your nails and leave it on for about 10 minutes. Wash your hands. This strategy should eliminate the smell from the acetone.

Get Nail Polish Smell Out of the Room

1 Crack Open a Window

How long does nail polish smell lastYou will want to get some fresh air into the space right away when the nail polish smell is most pungent. Open a window to allow the stink molecules to dissipate. If the weather is cold, you may want to limit opening the fresh air opening to a short time (10 or 15 minutes) but this may be enough to do the trick.

2 Spray Some Air Freshener in the Room

How long does nail polish smell lastGrab some air freshener and use it to neutralize the smell from the nail polish. Check the label before you press the button to make sure you will be eliminating the stank and not just covering it up with another smell. Febreze Air Effects and Lysol spray are advertised to offer this benefit, and may be a better choice than a less expensive brand.

3 Fan Out the Funk

How long does nail polish smell lastIf you have an overhead fan in the room, turn it on to get some air circulating in the room. Make sure the door is open as well to get the air flowing through the room. You don’t want the stink to stay trapped in a confined space any longer than necessary. A floor model fan will also help to get things moving along and out out the room so that you can breathe easier.

4 Coffee Grounds to the Rescue

How long does nail polish smell lastPut a bowl of fresh coffee grounds in the room to absorb the smell of nail polish from a room. Stir the coffee grounds daily until you don’t notice the smell anymore. For best results, use a glass bowl.

5 Store Your Polishes Right Away

How long does nail polish smell lastPut your nail polishes away as soon as you are finished painting your nails. Even if you replace the lids right away, you will still be able to smell the product in the room. A good place to store the stuff and keep the stink to a minimum is to put them in the refrigerator. This strategy also helps to keep your nail polish fresh so that it will last longer.


— Update: 06-01-2023 — found an additional article How To Get Rid Of Nail Polish Smell? from the website for the keyword how long does nail polish smell last.

Painting your nails can be fun and ignite your creativity. It is great for a bonding evening with your friends or family members, yet a small amount of nail polish can leave a strong odor hanging in the air. The lingering smell will cause a twitching nose and throbbing headache.

Read more  An Easy Guide to Dry Nail Polish Fast with Hairspray

There are various methods to deal with this problem. But bear in mind that if you do not take these steps properly, they won’t work wonders. Follow us to find the best ways to eliminate the stench.

How To Get Rid Of Nail Polish Smell From Your Hands ? 

Many users assume that washing their hands carefully with water and soap can eliminate the smell. This method may work, but it also would likely ruin the art and great look of your nail.

Instead, you can apply cuticle oil or some kitchen substances to ensure a better hand smell and eliminate all chemical residue on your skin.

  • Apply Cuticle Oil

Applying cuticle oil is one of the most common options to neutralize the smell. You can choose products in the form of a stick or a pen. Some manufacturers also offer users an applicator like a fine brush for easy use.

How long does nail polish smell last

Use cuticle oil in the last step to limit the smell of nail polish.

Cuticle oil is safe, thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. This combination will protect your fingers from potential irritations and diseases.

You can also invest more in cuticle oil products containing vitamins and vegetable oils to ensure healthy-looking nails.

We advise you to apply a moderate layer of cuticle oil, as applying too much will take a great deal of time to dry off. Besides, a thick layer of oil will make your nails look cumbersome and less eye-catching.

  • Use What You Have In Your Kitchen

If cuticle oil is not available in your local store, you may use these ingredients right in your kitchen. They are olive oil, shampoo, granulated salt, toothpaste, and baking soda. No specific brands are required; just use what you have.

Follow these detailed methods below to ensure the best result:

  • Method 1: Wash your hands with water and shampoo. Don’t forget to scrub all surfaces with a nail brush to eliminate all residue on your nails. Then, rinse your hands well and let them dry off.
  • Method 2: Make a mixture of one tablespoon of granulated salt or sugar and half of a teaspoon of olive oil. After that, rub your hands gently and work the granules over your hands’ backs in 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Method 3: Take a teaspoon of toothpaste and distribute the pastes over your hands, especially around your nails. After rubbing thoroughly, wash your hands well with water and soap to remove the stickiness of the toothpaste.
  • Method 4: Mix two cups of warm water and two tablespoons of baking soda, and stir until the mixture dissolves completely. Now insert your hands and soak for at least five minutes.
  • Method 5: Rinse with lukewarm water and wait for your hands to dry off. Now, you will surely sense no annoying smell.

How To Get Rid Of Nail Polish Smell From Your Room ?

  • Open The Windows

One of the easiest methods is to ventilate the area. No matter how sharp and penetrated the smell is, the natural air circulation will always do the trick for you.

Once the traveling particles are distributed and spread out sufficiently, you are less likely to detect and let them affect your skin, nose, and eyes.

How long does nail polish smell last

Open windows to increase air circulation

Sunlight and well-ventilated outdoor air can immediately solve your problems. Thus, all you need is to open the door and do nothing!

  • Use Air Fresheners

Maybe you accidentally spill the acetone on the carpets or any other surface that can hold the liquid. The smell can dissipate on such surfaces and linger in the air for a long period. It is hard to beat the smell when this happens.

How long does nail polish smell last

Spray air freshener to remove unpleasant odors quickly

In this situation, air fresheners and perfumes help you accomplish the task. You can use some odor-neutralizing perfumes and fresheners to neutralize or eliminate the smell in your room. A few spritzes will gradually remove the damp nail varnish odor and make the room smell pleasant.

It’s best to spray the substance with closed windows and doors. After five minutes, you can finally open them to get some natural air.

Orange or citrus peel oils are also highly recommended. Those ingredients bring a comfortable smell while immediately getting rid of the nail polish one.

  • Use Air Purifier

An air purifier will be an effective means of assisting you in removing the unpleasant odor of nail polish. With most purifiers today, the unpleasant scent will be neutralized and removed within half an hour.

  • Fan Out The Funk

Keeping the doors and windows open while turning your fan on can do wonders in most situations. An overhead fan is effective in circulating the air in the room. This way, the bad odor is more likely to dissipate and get out of your space quicker.

  • Use Coffee Grounds

Don’t underestimate the use of coffee grounds. Coffee odors are pleasant and refreshing, so a bowl of fresh coffee grounds will save you from a bad nail varnish smell. A glass bowl of coffee ground will give off a fresh coffee scent while also absorbing unpleasant odors from your nail polish.

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You can let the bowl overnight to get rid of the odor gradually. Don’t forget to stir the coffee grounds frequently until the smell is completely gone if you want to speed up the process.

How long does nail polish smell last

Remove unpleasant smell from nail polish with a bowl of coffee grounds.

Baking soda or activated charcoal are great options to absorb the intense odor as well. You need an adequate amount of those ingredients before storing them in a container on a high shelf. After a couple of days, you will get a homey and pleasant smell.

There is no need to change the ingredients daily, so it is a labor-saving method.

  • Store The Polish Carefully

All the efforts will be down the drain if you don’t store the polish carefully and thus, let the smell out all the time. Failure to tighten or seal the polish jar can contaminate the surrounding space. That’s why you always need to seal the polish bottle as fast and tight as possible.

We advise you to put the polishes away right after painting your nails., but the smell can still linger in the room. You can also keep them in the refrigerator. Tightening the bottles and putting them in the fridge can minimize the stink.

This method might sound odd, but its effects will do the job of convincing you! Not only does it prevent the smell from spreading, but it also keeps your product fresher and lasting longer.

Why Does Nail Polish Smell So Bad? 

The annoying smell is mainly due to the inclusion of a few unpleasantly-smelling solvents. This ingredient is prevalent in most household and beauty care products in different concentrations. A higher concentration of solvents results in worse smells.

Their smells are often described as pleasant and fruity in a small amount. In nail polish, they come in a high concentration so they show a stingy and overpowering smell.

Ethyl acetate and propyl acetate show a sweet pear feeling while butyl acetate smells like a banana or apple. Toluene has a benzene-like smell and isopropyl alcohol is alcoholic. Except for toluene, the other solvents are safe for use.

It is easy to recognize the smell of this substance as soon as you begin painting your nails. This buildup of odors gradually develops in indoor airspace and then floods the entire surroundings.

How long does nail polish smell last

Due to the high concentration of solvents, the nail polish will have a bad smell sometimes.

Is Nail Polish Smell Bad For You? 

The strong smell from nail polish can be attributed to the growing odors of toluene and acetone. These chemicals will likely travel freely in the air and cause excessive exposure through ingestion and inhalation. That’s why you may feel irritated or, worse, dizzy.

Headache is not easily avoided when smelling the solvents. Besides, if you are sensitive to smells, you are prone to nose irritation and struggle to breathe properly.

Is There Any Nail Polish That Doesn’t Smell? 

Most nail polish and nail polish removers, even those with free-from formulas, always have this typical smell.

Thanks to their natural and odorless compounds, some products show less intense and irritating odors. You can expect this result in some nail varnishes with a water-based formula.

Unlike other common products, those use water as their base instead of oil or other chemical solvents. While they are not 100% odorless, their smells are weaker and less likely to irritate your health.

On the flip side, the water-based formula makes those products more likely to chip off after application. They also take more time to dry off and cost more than other oil-based types.


Chemicals like volatile organic compounds and solvents in nail polish can be harmful to your health and the surrounding environment.

Keeping those smells at bay is not always a piece of cake and requires careful treatment.The answer is surely in the above article.

We hope that our article will help you stay beautiful while ensuring a fresh and purified environment. So don’t hesitate to try those methods mentioned above.

— Update: 07-01-2023 — found an additional article How To Get Rid Of Nail Polish Smell? (7 Quick & Easy Ways) from the website for the keyword how long does nail polish smell last.

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Nail polish contains chemicals that cause a strong odor even when you only apply a small amount to your nails. It often lingers in your hands and your room for a couple of hours which causes your nose to twitch or give you a headache. When applying nail polish, make sure you have good airflow in your room to avoid inhaling the fumes. And if you’re running to a meeting and don’t want to smell bad, apply cuticle oil or olive oil on top of your nails to eliminate the odor. However, if you’re looking to eliminate a nail polish smell from your breath, that needs medical intervention.

Painting your nails is a fun and creative way to uncover the artistry version of yourself. But that’s not until the smell from your nail polish causes discomfort in your nostrils, and worse gives you a headache. 

Why does nail polish smell so bad?

Solvents which are the main ingredients of your nail polish, are to blame. There are many types of solvents, which you can find in your beauty care and household products.

Read more  How to repair damaged nails according to the experts

However, nail polishes have high concentrations of these solvents.

They keep the nail polish in liquid, making it easy to apply, and because they are volatile ingredients, they quickly evaporate or dries off, leaving a hard-colored film on your nails. 

Below are some of the common ingredients of your nail polish:

Ways to get rid of the nail polish smell

How long does nail polish smell last

Maybe you consider washing your hands with soap and water, but that would only ruin the art on your nails.

That leaves you one option, which is to let the polish dry off completely before hand-washing.

Below are some tricks you can do at home to minimize or eliminate the nail polish smell from your hands or the air space of your room.

1. Use a cuticle oil

Applying cuticle oil on the top of your nails will neutralize the odor of your nail polish. Not only that, it contains vegetable oils and vitamins that will give you healthy-looking nails.

2. Apply olive oil

Make sure your nail polish has dried off before applying olive oil to your nails. For the best result, let the oil sit on your nails for 10-15 minutes before washing your hands. 

3. Open the windows

You may want to make sure there is good air ventilation in your room when you’re about to paint your nails.

Open the windows or do the polishing in an open space like your front porch, for instance. In that way, the pungent smell won’t accumulate, you’ll still have a good supply of fresh air.

4. Turn on the fan

Turn on the fan while the windows and doors are open so that the pungent smell will move out and not stay in your room.

5. Spray some air freshener

You may use odor-neutralizing air fresheners like Febreze Air Effects and Lysol to eliminate or neutralize the nail polish smell in your room. 

I usually spray the air freshener while the windows or doors are closed for a couple of minutes before finally opening them.

If you can’t bear the mix of smells, you may wear a mask or step outside.

6. Place activated charcoal, baking soda, or coffee grounds 

Activated charcoal or baking soda will absorb the odor in your room. Place a good amount of these ingredients in a container on a high shelf. You may leave it for a couple of days without changing them daily.

You may also use fresh coffee grounds to absorb the pungent smell in your room. For best results, place a good amount in a glass bowl and stir it daily. It will also add a warm and homey scent to your house.

7. Place essential oil or citrus fruit peels 

You may add essential oils to your flower vases to enhance a fresh and flowery scent in your room. A few drops daily will surely help eliminate any unwanted smell.

Things from your kitchen like lemon or any citrus fruit peels will also do the trick. Place the peels in a decorative container to add beauty to your room.

It will neutralize the odor and leave you with a fresh fruity smell. Do not let the peels rot. Change them regularly until the odor is gone.

Nail polish smell on your breath?

Maybe it’s just poor dental hygiene or bad food choices, you think, but it may tell you something more about your health.

If your breath has a sweet fruity scent like nail polish or acetone, as in a nail polish remover, it may be a sign that you have high levels of ketones in your liver.

Doctors usually associate it as a symptom of diabetic ketoacidosis (KDA). However, it may also happen that the condition is due to your keto diets, fasting, and/or heavy drinking. 

If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce or use enough insulin to convert glucose (in the blood) and provide energy to your body. When that happens, your body will burn your stored fats for energy instead.

The process will release ketones and acetone from your liver, and when there is too much buildup of these byproducts, it becomes highly toxic in the blood. 

Treatments for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

Doctors usually treat persons with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in the emergency room. You may receive the following:

  • Intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement
  • Insulin therapy

These treatments will dilute the excessive sugar levels in your blood, give you enough fluids and reverse the process of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

You should strictly follow the treatment plan of your doctor, especially if you have diabetes. Exercise and make balanced healthy food choices to keep normal blood sugar levels. 



Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as the solvents found in your nail polish may cause adverse effects to your health and the environment.

Some of these chemicals, such as toluene and formaldehyde, showed researchers their potential to cause hormonal disruption, neurological effects, and even cancer. That’s why most manufacturers have removed them from their products.

If you simply want to add extra to your beauty regime by polishing your nails, make sure to read the ingredients if those chemicals are safe to wear.

Take measures to eliminate the pungent smell of the nail polish immediately to avoid complications in your health. 


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About the Author: Tung Chi