Why Does My Nail Polish Remover Smell Like Vinegar? 2 most popular reasons

You have rocked your beautiful nails and now you need to remove them. This is where the nail polish remover comes in. Nail polish remover is as important as nail polish. However, over time, a lot of people have complained about them. Some people say they are toxic, others said they could ruin your nails. But some set of people complained about the smell.

For this reason, they ask questions like, why does my nail polish remover smell like vinegar?

Why Does My Nail Polish Remover Smell Like Vinegar

Your nail polish remover might be smelling like vinegar because of the Ethyl acetate and other acetic acids in it. Ethyl acetate and acetic acids are ingredients found in nail polish remover, they are all solvents.

Is It Normal for Nail Polish Remover to Smell Like Vinegar?

Yes, It is normal for nail polish remover to smell like vinegar. This is due to the alcohol and acid in it.

In general, nail polish remover should have a mild scent. This scent is usually due to a combination of ingredients that contribute their own particular aromas, such as acetone (a solvent) and ethyl acetate (a solvent).

Sometimes the odour that you notice will be due to one specific ingredient acetone can give off traces of paint thinner-like fumes. This can also happen if you use too much acetone-based remover or too little water in conjunction with your removal process the solvent can evaporate too quickly and leave behind its more pungent aroma.

Why Does My Nail Polish Remover Smell Like Vinegar?

If you’ve ever noticed a vinegar-like smell coming from your nail polish remover, it’s because it contains some acetic acid. Acetic acid is a compound that consists of the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The carbon and hydrogen join together to form an ethyl group (CH3COOH). This makes acetic acid a member of the carboxylic acid group of chemical compounds.

The active ingredient in most nail polish removers is ethyl acetate, a solvent that’s usually mixed with other ingredients to create different flavours and scents. Ethyl acetate is commonly found in cosmetics and household products, like perfumes and glues. It’s also used in many drugs, as a mild anaesthetic. It may also be found in some beverages, including wine and fruit juice.

Nail polish remover manufacturers add small amounts of acetic acid to their products to make them more effective at removing nail polish. Most people describe the smell of acetic acid as smelling like vinegar or apple cider.

This can explain why people who are sensitive to vinegar tend to find the smell from nail polish remover unpleasant. However, it’s important to note that nail polish removers don’t actually contain any vinegar, the smell comes from the acetic acid that’s added to the product.

The Role of Acetone in Nail Polish Remover

Acetone is one of the main ingredients in nail polish remover it helps dissolve the lacquer to make it easy to wipe off with a cotton ball, pad, or swab. Most nail polish removers have a mixture of acetone and other ingredients, such as solvents that help the acetone reach deeper into the polish to dissolve it and fragrances that add an extra layer of scent to your experience.

Acetone is a volatile organic compound (VOC). It evaporates quickly and easily, which makes it easier for it to penetrate into paint and lacquer. Once the solvent penetrates the lacquer, it helps break apart the polymer molecules that make up the paint or lacquer. This process is called “dissolving” the varnish and removing it from the surface.

It takes only a few minutes for acetone to dissolve nail polish depending on what type you use the easy-to-remove polishes will take less than five minutes while others may take more time depending on how thick and resistant they are. The speed at which lacquer dissolves depends on several factors: how much acetone is present in your product, and whether you’ve used lotion near your nails.

The Chemical Reaction Between Acetone and Acetic Acid

The smell of nail polish remover is not a pleasant one. It’s a toxic, sharp, and distinct aroma that is ingrained in the minds of anyone who’s ever polished their nails.

A popular brand of nail polish remover called acetone (or “nail polish thinner”) is made with a mixture of two chemicals: acetone and acetic acid. Acetone is an ingredient found in many other household products as well, including paint thinners and glues.

Acetic acid is found naturally in vinegar and some fruits like apples, but it can also be manufactured for use in industrial processes. If you’ve ever smelled vinegar before, then it’s likely that you noticed its distinctive sour smell. That sour smell is actually the result of chemical reactions between the acetic acid and oxygen molecules in the air, which happens when vinegar evaporates.

The same reaction takes place when acetone comes into contact with acetic acid it just so happens that acetone reacts faster than vinegar does, making it a swift and powerful solvent for anything that has been painted over with nail polish.

Causes of the Vinegar Smell in Nail Polish Remover

1. Contamination

Our nail polish remover smells like vinegar because it has come into contact with bacteria in the air. Bacteria produce organic acids when they metabolize, which is what gives vinegar its pungent smell, so nail polish remover will pick up that scent when it’s exposed to the air.

This can be prevented by replacing the lid on your container of polish remover as soon as you’re done using it and storing it in a place that’s not exposed to air.

The vinegar smell won’t affect the quality of the nail polish remover or its effectiveness, but if you want an odourless solution, there are several brands of acetone-free nail polish remover available that don’t have an odour.

2. The Presence of Other Chemicals in the Remover

Vinegar smell can come from a number of sources, but the presence of other chemicals in the nail polish remover is one of them. A strong smell of vinegar arises because there are small amounts of acetic acid (also known as vinegar) dissolved in the nail polish remover.

Acetic acid reacts with alcohol in the water and produces more acetic acid. The reaction takes place when acetone, which is used to dissolve the nail polish, comes into contact with water.

When you apply nail polish remover to your nails, the water contained in it gets absorbed by the nails and dissolves some amount of nail polish. The solvent present in the nail polish remover then goes into action and removes the dissolved nail polish from your nails.

How Can I Prevent the Vinegar Smell in My Nail Polish Remover?

So you’re trying to keep your nails clean and healthy, but you don’t want to smell like nail polish remover while doing it. There are plenty of ways to achieve a clean-smelling manicure without sacrificing your favourite scented lotion or perfume. The key is to neutralize the smell of nail polish remover before you start working with smelly substances again so that the vinegar smell never has a chance to set in.

In order to avoid smelling like vinegar, try these techniques:

If you use an acetone-based remover, mix together some baking soda and water into a paste in a small dish. Apply the mixture to your nails with a toothbrush and scrub your nails for about 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Dry your hands off with a clean towel. Apply your favourite scented lotion or leave-in conditioner as usual.

Is the Vinegar Smell Harmful?

No, the vinegar smell is not harmful. But it can be if exposed to it for a prolonged period of time.

Most healthy people are not affected by the smell of vinegar at all. However, some people with respiratory diseases such as asthma may find that it increases their symptoms. The smell of vinegar can also cause irritation to the eyes and the nose if it stays for too long in a room where you are staying.

The effects of the smell of vinegar on your health depend on how long you are exposed to it. When you start smelling the vinegar in your house, open your windows and let some fresh air in and open some windows in your house so you can get away from this smell.

You can use fans to help ventilate your house as well. These will help keep the smell of vinegar out of your house so you don’t have to experience any negative effects from breathing in this smell for too long.

Can the Vinegar Smell in Nail Polish Remover Cause Any Harm?

No, the vinegar smell does not cause any harm. It’s true that acetone is acidic, and that means it has a smell like vinegar. But the vinegar smell in nail polish remover won’t harm you at all. Acetone and vinegar are similar in that they’re both acids, but they’re quite different in the way they act.

Vinegar can be used to clean surfaces, and it’s even used as the main ingredient in some cleaning products. Acetone, on the other hand, is so strong that it will dissolve things like lacquer and shellac (both of which are types of nail polish).

However, it is important to note that frequent and prolonged exposure to this smell can be toxic. It can cause, dizziness, weakness, nausea, irritation and shortness of breath for people with asthma.

Is It Safe to Use Nail Polish Remover That Smells Like Vinegar?

Yes, it’s safe to use a nail polish remover that smells like vinegar. The smell comes from a chemical called acetone, and most nail polish contains up to 5% acetone at that concentration, the amount of fumes you breathe in while using it is still safe. However, if you’re very sensitive to acetone or if the product contains more than 10%, in addition to being more expensive than regular removers, it might be wise to look for one without a strong odour.

Read also: Why nail polish removers evaporates quickly


While we apply nail polish to beautify our nails, we should be cautious of its effect. We should not ignore strange smells from nail polish as they may be the cause of some strange ailment to us or people around us, although not necessarily.

The chemicals from these polishes are sometimes harmful to breathing, but again, that shouldn’t stop you from applying your favourite nail polish or stop you from using nail polish remover.

The smell only lingers for a short period, so it shouldn’t be a major threat to us. Likewise, ensure all windows are opened for the smell to pass through and for easy ventilation and circulation of air.

Don’t allow that smell to stick and prevents you from decorating those pretty fingers.


1. My vinegar smells like acetone (nail polish remover)

Does acetone smell like vinegar?

No, acetone does not smell like vinegar. Acetone has a distinct and often strong smell, while vinegar has a sour and pungent odor.

What does the smell of nail polish remover mean?

The smell of nail polish remover is primarily attributed to the chemical compound acetone. The strong odor is characteristic of acetone’s volatile nature. While the smell itself doesn’t indicate anything specific, it’s a common characteristic of most nail polish removers due to the presence of acetone.

Can smelling nail polish remover do anything bad?

Yes, smelling nail polish remover can have negative effects. Nail polish removers often contain chemicals like acetone and other solvents that can be harmful when inhaled in high concentrations or over prolonged periods. Breathing in excessive amounts of these fumes can lead to dizziness, headaches, irritation of the respiratory system, and in severe cases, nausea or vomiting.

Is it bad to inhale nail polish remover fumes?

Yes, inhaling nail polish remover fumes can be harmful. The fumes from nail polish remover often contain chemicals like acetone and other solvents that can irritate the respiratory system and may cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, or other adverse effects.

2. Acetic acid: general information