How to remove paint smells from a room: 20 tips.

Nothing beats the smell of a freshly painted room, but those toxic fumes get to you and can cause many health problems. I will tell you how to naturally remove a paint smell from rooms in this post.

pots of paint and brushes, how to remove paint smells

Is a paint smell in a room harmful?

This is one of the questions I often get asked in my Facebook group. Paint fumes can create health concerns for anyone exposed to paint odors and fumes.  Many paints contain chemicals that have volatile organic compounds or VOCs that quickly evaporate into the air. Sleeping in a painted room is not advised, as many paints release VOCs. These vapors are derived from the organic solvents found in paint, such as Ethylene, Xylene, Paint thinner, Acetone, and Methyl Chloride, to name but a few. If inhaled, they pose a health hazard and can cause these common symptoms soon after exposure to the fumes:

  • Respiratory and lung irritation
  • Eye irritation
  • Visual problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Memory impairment
  • Children and pregnant women are at higher risk of health complications from exposure to VOCs than with minimized VOC paint.

Home remedies to remove paint smells in a room.

You can take steps to minimize exposure to paint fumes during indoor painting projects. Here are some simple things that we can do to remove paint smells naturally.

  1. Choose a low VOC paint.

    ✔️ It’s common sense to select paints labeled for indoor use when painting indoors. Make sure you read the instructions well before use.
    ✔️ Select water-based paints and look for paints labeled low odor like this one and lower zero VOCs.
    ✔️ If you choose an oil-based paint or primer, select ones marked as low odor.
    ✔️ You can also purchase paints made from plants, milk, minerals, or clay.

    a pot of low voc paint to reduce paint smells

  2. Vanilla extract.

    You can mix vanilla extract like this one into your paint before you start to paint to make it smell better upon application.   
    ✔️ Use one tablespoon per gallon of paint (a gallon is about four and a half liters) to take that smell away
    ✔️ This works best with water-based paint rather than gloss.
    ✔️ You could also try adding one drop of lemon or peppermint extract to a gallon of paint if you prefer a fresher smell.

  3. Ventilation.

    If you’re using oil-based paint with high levels of VOC, and are painting in a confined workspace, you must control the airspace.
    Ventilation is one of the best ways to remove paint odors naturally and remove a paint smell in rooms.
    The fumes in the air can be highly flammable and can be quite dangerous.
    ✔️ When possible, schedule painting projects during dry periods and when temperatures allow doors and windows to be opened.
    ✔️ Open windows to dilute the air in the workspace with fresh air and disperse the harmful vapors from the area.
    ✔️ Leave them open for two to three days to maintain cross ventilation.
    ✔️ For extra airflow, you can open all the windows in the house and place a fan at one end, preferably by an open door, to draw the fumes outside.

    a lady opening windows to get rid of paint smells in a room

  4.  Filtration.

    ✔️ If you’re spraying paint with an aerosol can, an airless paint sprayer, an HVLP sprayer like this one , or a pressure PA sprayer, you must wear a mask like this one with the proper filters to protect your lungs.
    ✔️Using a filtration mask like this one and ventilating the room can help remove excess paint pigment particles from the air.
    ✔️However, just wearing a mask will not remove VOCs because the vapors hold temporarily on the absorbent material on the surface of the filter and can then be re-released back into the air.  ✔️ All absorption filters must be removed and replaced before reabsorption, and VOCs are re-released into the air.
    ✔️ Most importantly, filters and cartridges on mask respirators will stop working if used beyond the recommended time.  When this happens, VOCs will pass through the filter into your lungs. This is known as a breakthrough.

  5. Allow each coat of paint to dry completely.

    Before applying the next layer of paint make sure the last coat is thoroughly dry. Damp walls can trap fumes and emit strong odors for a longer time.

  6. Keep your house cool.

    If you’re painting in winter, don’t be tempted to turn the heating on until the paint is thoroughly dry. This will keep the paint fumes to a minimum.

  7. Use a fan.

    Get a fan like this dyson one going, blow some of that smell out of the open windows and keep the air circulating in the room.

  8. Take time to breathe.

    Take frequent fresh air breaks while painting, to prevent headaches, breathing difficulties, and dizziness.

  9. Keep away from the painted area.

    Avoid the painted area for several days, keep children and those who suffer from respiratory issues away. Use this time for a family trip to the beach or park and rest after all the decorating!

    painting a room

  10. Air purifier.

    ✔️ Air purifiers like this one help absorb smells and get rid of them quicker.
    ✔️ Air purifiers won’t dry the paint faster but will help remove the paint smell.
    ✔️ Switch them on before you start painting.
    ✔️ Be aware that you may need to change the filter once you’ve got rid of the paint smell in the house.  

  11. Keep equipment sealed

    ✔️ When finished painting, close the paint container tightly to prevent fumes from escaping into the room.
    ✔️ Keep the paint cans sealed when not in use, cover trays of paint and used brushes with cling film after use to reduce the amount of paint fumes in the air.

  12. Candles

    One way to get rid of a smell you don’t want, is to mask it with another, more pleasant smell.
    ✔️ Find a lovely odor removing candle like this one and light it for a few hours to cover the paint smell. This will not reduce the amount of harmful paint in the air like airing out the room would, but it will make the room smell slightly more pleasant for a while.

    woman lighting a candle to remove paint smells

  13. Coffee grounds.

    Bowls of dry coffee grounds placed around the room will absorb paint fumes and can be thrown away or composted when you have finished painting.

  14. Apple cider vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar is acidic and will help get rid of paint smells.
    ✔️ Just place a few bowls around the room to absorb any paint smells.
    ✔️ You might even catch some fruit flies at the same time!

  15. Lemon, lemon juice, or an orange.

    Citrus fruits are a simple, cheap, and effective way to help absorb paint smells.  
    ✔️ Get some small bowls and fill with water
    ✔️Slice a lemon, or orange, and place it inside the bowl.
    ✔️ The combination of water and lemon will rapidly absorb the smell of paint.
    ✔️ You can also use lemon juice, but a slice of lemon works much better.

  16. Activated charcoal

    You can buy Activated charcoal in small pouches like these , powdered form like this , or pellets like these that you see in fish tanks.
    Activated charcoal is charcoal that’s been treated with oxygen to allow it to absorb odor.
    ✔️ Take the activated charcoal and place it in a bucket with an old rag
    ✔️ Leave it in the room overnight, and when you come back, those toxic fumes should be gone.
    ✔️ You could also put small amounts of powdered activated charcoal on plates and place them around the room. Leave it to sit for a few days and then dispose of it after the smell has dissipated.

  17. Peppermint oil.

    ✔️ Place a few drops of the peppermint oil on a few cotton pads and in bowls around the room to help mask the smell of paint odors.

  18. White vinegar

    Some people use white vinegar to remove paint smells from rooms.
    ✔️ use a few small bowls, depending on how bad the fresh paint smell is, and put about four cups of white vinegar in each bowl.
    ✔️ Let the bowls sit in the middle of the room.
    ✔️ If you have more than one bowl available, you can put a bowl in each corner.
    ✔️ Place a fan next to the bowls of vinegar and have it oscillating, preferably by the door.
    ✔️ Open all your doors to ventilate the room.
    ✔️ If you can’t open the windows due to environmental conditions, or for security, for the night let the vinegar sit in the middle of the room overnight to absorb the toxic chemicals coming from the paint.

  19. Baking soda

    Many people want to know how to use baking soda to remove paint fumes.
    Baking soda is the magical formula that seems to get rid of most smells and odors around the home because it absorbs smells naturally.
    ✔️ To help reduce paint smells, pour the baking soda onto a few small plates and leave them throughout the room.
    ✔️ Leave it overnight and then dispose of it in the wheelie bin in the morning.
    ✔️ You could also use it to freshen soft furnishings and carpets by sprinkling the baking soda over them, leaving it overnight, and then you can vacuum or sweep it up the next day.

  20. Onions.

    Onions do not smell particularly pleasant, but you can always cover one unpleasant smell with another!
    Onions contain a chemical that neutralizes the chemicals that make the paint smell.
    ✔️ Chop an onion in half or into small slices and place it in the room you’re painting to absorb the smell.

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frequently asked questions

Can air-con remove the paint smell?

Depending on which air conditioning system you have, turning on the air conditioner may spread the smell of paint to other house areas.
✔️ The best option is to air out the house entirely for as long as possible, to find out how to do this quickly, read this post.
✔️ If you choose to put the air con on, you can buy an odor filter to get rid of the paint smell in the house.

How to remove paint smells from wood.

It’s not easy to know how to remove paint smells from rooms especially if it is coming from painted wood. If the smell is coming from furniture you can place the piece of furniture in the sun to dry quicker.
If the wood is fixtures like a wooden door you should use the method outlined in step three of the post above.

How do I get rid of gloss paint fumes?

Use any of the methods above, particularly the lemon in water method, to eliminate the smell of gloss paint. It is also best to try and avoid the area for a few days if you can, especially with young children, pregnant women, and anybody with respiratory problems.

The paint smell will not go away what am I doing wrong?

If your paint smell does not go away, it may be that you’ve used very old paint that has a horrific odor to it.  
Your decorator may have thought that the paint smell would subside over time, and it hasn’t.  
 It can be a pretty pungent smell, if this is the case, you may need to seal the paint with an odor sealing paint , then repaint the surface. After a fire, odor sealing paints are often used to prevent the smell from seeping back through the paint so this will work well over the problem.

How long does it take for paint smells to go away?

It usually takes a couple of days for the paint smell to go away, but it depends on a couple of factors:
 ・How well you ventilated the room
 ・Which type of paint you used
Gloss paint is particularly notorious for holding a smell for several days.

If you have anything to say about how to remove a paint smell from rooms, let us know in the comments!