That whiff of nail polish remover wafting from your neighbor’s apartment can be more than just annoying – it could be a health hazard.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), acetone exposure should not exceed 250 parts per million for any length of time. Yet the unmistakable odor seeping through walls and under doors suggests you may be inhaling far more than the recommended limit.
Before you knock on their door to investigate, take a deep breath. In most cases, there’s an innocent explanation behind that headache-inducing stench.
From using nail supplies to having an AC malfunction, everyday activities, and accidents can make apartments reek of chemicals.
Here’s a table summarizing the main causes covered in this article:
|Refrigerant Leak||Sweet, chemical smell|
Near vents or AC unit
|Ask neighbor to get HVAC inspected|
|Hand Sanitizer||Strong odor|
More frequent in winter
|Suggest improved ventilation|
|Nail Products||Powerful stench|
Comes and goes
|Politely request opening windows|
|Diabetes||Persistent fruity smell||Gently recommend medical checkup|
When neighbor walks by
|Leave anonymous note about odor|
In this blog post, we’ll explore 11 possible sources of that bothersome nail polish remover smell coming from next door. I’ll break down the most likely culprits and give tips on how to clear the air diplomatically.
Read on to breathe easy again!
1. Could it be a refrigerant leak?
If you catch a whiff of something sweet and solvent-like, it might be a refrigerant leak in your neighbor’s place. This can happen if they have an older or improperly maintained AC or HVAC system.
The chemicals used for cooling and refrigeration can sometimes spring leaks.
When these substances escape the unit, they give off a distinct nail polish remover-esque aroma.
So if the smell comes and goes, seems to get stronger near vents, or you hear a running AC unit when it hits your nose, a problematic cooling system could be the culprit.
Consider asking your neighbor if they’ve had any HVAC work done recently.
2. Maybe they’re using hand sanitizer
Another common source of that headache-inducing nail polish remover stench is hand sanitizer. With cold and flu season in full swing, I’m sure you’ve been slathering the stuff on regularly, too.
Some hand sanitizers contain acetone as an active ingredient.
When your neighbor applies a dollop of this type of sanitizer, the fumes can waft between apartments and assault your senses.
So, if you notice the smell more in the winter months or coming sporadically from next door, it could just be someone practicing good hand hygiene!
Consider a friendly reminder about ventilation if the odor is really overbearing.
3. Are they doing their nails?
Using nail polish and nail polish remover can make an apartment reek for hours. The acetone and other chemicals in these products create some seriously potent fumes.
When your neighbor opens up a bottle of nail polish remover or lacquer, it releases a wave of smells that seep under doors and through cracks.
If you notice the odor comes and goes randomly, it’s likely someone next door giving themselves a DIY manicure or pedicure.
While irritating, this scenario is harmless.
Maybe bake them some cookies and gently ask if they can open a window next time they break out the nail supplies.
4. Could it be a sign of diabetes?
While less likely, it’s worth mentioning that a fruity odor reminiscent of nail polish remover can be a sign of diabetes in some cases.
When the body can’t properly utilize sugar, it begins burning fat for fuel instead. This process causes ketones and other chemicals to build up in the blood. These substances often have a sweet, acetone-like scent.
So if the smell is persistent and your neighbor has other diabetes symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination, or unexplained weight loss, their nail polish remover funk could stem from undiagnosed diabetes.
Of course, don’t jump to conclusions or spread rumors.
But it doesn’t hurt to gently encourage your neighbor to get a checkup if you’re truly concerned about their health.
5. Maybe it’s their perfume?
Perfumes and colognes can contain some wicked chemicals that smell like harsh solvents when overapplied.
Many synthetic fragrance compounds mimic that headache-inducing nail polish remover smell.
So, if you notice the odor more when passing your dolled-up neighbor in the hallway, it could just be their favorite musky scent!
Consider leaving an anonymous note recommending they go easy on the perfume trigger next time for the sake of your senses.
6. What about marijuana use?
Marijuana itself tends to smell earthy, woody, or skunky. But certain strains and forms can sometimes give off a bit of a chemical odor, too.
The specific scent depends on factors like:
- The terpenes present
- The curing and harvesting process
- Whether it’s smoked vs eaten
An especially pungent batch smoked next door could be hitting your nose with some solvent-like notes.
While weed use is common, the smell can be unpleasant if it’s seeping into your apartment constantly.
Consider asking your neighbor politely if they can minimize the odor coming your way.
7. Could they be painting?
Nothing screams nail polish remover quite like fresh paint fumes.
The acetone and other potent chemicals in paint can create an eye-watering stench.
Oil-based paints tend to be the worst offenders. So, if your neighbor is tackling some painting projects, chances are you’ll be inhaling those harsh fumes, too.
Luckily, this cause of the bothersome smell is temporary.
Ask your neighbor how long they expect the painting to continue and start burning candles in the meantime.
8. Maybe it’s their air freshener?
Ironically, some air fresheners and scented products can make your place reek even worse.
Synthetic fragrances in stuff like scented candles, car air fresheners, and cleaning products sometimes give off a chemical nail polish remover type of smell.
When these products are overused in a small, enclosed space, it can get overpowering quickly.
See if you notice the smell more when your neighbor has guests over or is actively cleaning.
They may just need to ease up on the scented stuff when a company is around.
9. Could it be their cleaning products?
Speaking of cleaning, most heavy-duty sprays and disinfectants contain potent chemicals that can smell nasty at high concentrations.
Acetone, ammonia, chlorine, and alcohol give that harsh nail salon odor to many cleaning products.
Just think of the sting when you get a whiff of bleach or bathroom cleaner!
So, if it seems like your neighbor is suddenly doing a deep clean or going bonkers with the Lysol wipes, that could explain the headache-inducing smell that’s ended up in your place.
They probably don’t realize how much it’s spreading – a friendly chat should do the trick.
10. Did they spill gasoline or diesel fuel?
Few things can stink up an apartment worse than spilled gasoline or diesel fuel. The intense chemical aroma tends to linger for ages, even after cleaning.
If your neighbor stores equipment like an ATV or motorcycle in a shared garage, a small leak or spill could be sending those agonizing vapors your way.
Gasoline and diesel emit a very distinct solvent-like smell reminiscent of nail polish remover.
If the stench comes and goes from their general direction, this may be the reason.
11. Maybe they’re using glue?
Glues and adhesives frequently rely on harsh chemicals like acetone to get the job done.
Hot glue guns, super glue, epoxies – they all can create some wicked fumes, especially in large quantities.
So, if you’ve noticed the smell more often recently, your neighbor may be in the middle of some kind of craft or DIY project next door. Things like model building, jewelry making, and upholstering all require liberal use of stinky adhesives.
While annoying, in most cases, the glue fumes should subside once the project is complete. A temporary odor like this just requires patience.
And there you have it – 11 possible causes of a nasty chemical or nail polish remover smell coming from your neighbor’s place!
As you can see, the culprit is usually pretty innocuous.
Before getting too worked up, try gently communicating with your neighbor first. Chances are, they’ll be glad you told them and will make changes to minimize the smell.
With a little understanding and compromise, you can both breathe easy again.
Dealing with a strange smell from a neighbor’s apartment can be annoying and confusing.
But in most cases, there’s an innocent explanation behind that nail polish remover stench wafting your way.
From using nail supplies to having an HVAC leak, everyday activities, and accidents can create smells that overpower apartments. It doesn’t necessarily mean your neighbor is doing anything wrong.
The next time you notice an unpleasant odor, don’t immediately assume the worst.
Instead, approach your neighbor casually and mention what you’re smelling. Chances are, they’ll be glad you told them and will make changes to minimize the smell.
With open communication and understanding, you can usually find an easy solution. And you may even make a new friend in the process!
So be patient, stay polite, and don’t forget to smile. With a little neighborly niceness, you can both breathe easily and eliminate those unpleasant aromas.