How to Get Rid of Paint Smell in a House

A fresh coat of paint inside your home can give you the most bang for your buck when updating the decor. Whether you’re changing the color scheme or lightening things up, nothing makes a home look fresh and new like painting. While that new coat of paint gives a room a crisp, clean look, the paint odor left behind can be overwhelming.

It’s hard to miss the odor of fresh paint, and it’s the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) you can thank for that. Even if you use eco-friendly paint with low VOCs, you can still be left with unwanted smells after painting. The good news is you can learn how to get rid of the paint smell in your home using safe, proven methods. These deodorizing methods also eliminate paint remover smell, bleach odor, and many other foul aromas.

When to Paint to Minimize Odors

To get ahead of paint odors before you begin painting a room, there are a few things you can do to minimize the smell. Choose a day to paint when the weather forecast calls for pleasant weather so you can open doors and windows for ventilation. If you have ceiling fans, turn those on to help the indoor airflow. Avoid operating your HVAC or fan to prevent paint odor from getting into other areas of the home.

Now that you know how to minimize paint odor from the start, it’s time to learn how to get rid of a paint smell after you’ve painted. Once you’re done airing out the house, check out our pro tips for getting paint out of clothes.

How to Get Rid of Paint Fumes Naturally: 10 Proven Methods

Most popular paint at your local hardware or paint store contains VOCs, so for most of us, those offensive odors are part of the project. But just because your paint isn’t all-natural doesn’t mean you can’t use non-toxic, eco-friendly deodorizers to get rid of the fumes. Here are ten ways to get rid of the paint smell in a house using tools and products that are safe and natural.

  1. Fans

When you’re learning how to get a paint smell out of your house, you’ll quickly find that ventilation is key. Keeping doors and windows open and running ceiling fans works, but adding window fans to the equation works even better. If you’re painting a room without adequate ventilation, a window fan pulling air out of your home is a must. Even with typical ventilation, adding window fans in strategic areas can create a nice cross-flow of air that makes quick work of paint odor.

  1. Water

If the thought of using water to eliminate odors causes you to raise an eyebrow, hear us out. Water is a universal solvent, which means it can pick up tastes and odors from chemicals that dissolve easily—like VOCs.

Fill a few pots or buckets with tap water and leave them in the freshly painted area overnight. Check back in the morning, and you should find most if not all, of the paint smell is gone. For a fresh aroma after the paint odor dissipates, add a few lemon slices to the water at the start.

  1. Baking Soda

Whether it’s hidden deep in the fridge trapping unpleasant food aromas or sitting on the shelf with baking mixes, there’s a good chance you have a box of baking soda. Baking soda is an eco-friendly and safe cleaner, whitener, and deodorizer—and it’s cheap. With minimal cost and effort, you can put baking soda to work deodorizing your home. And it’s especially adept at quickly neutralizing strong odors like the smell of paint.

Sprinkle baking soda on carpeting and any upholstered furniture in the room you’re painting. You can even use it on drapes and curtains if you’re willing to vacuum them later. Let the baking soda absorb the paint odor overnight, then vacuum it from the fabrics. Be cautious when you’re spreading the baking soda around, so it doesn’t stick to wet paint.

  1. Vinegar

Many people use vinegar primarily for cooking, but there are plenty of others who consider vinegar their secret ingredient for housekeeping. Vinegar is a safe and natural cleaner, disinfectant, and deodorizer, and it’s ideal for getting rid of paint odor. While distilled white vinegar is the best paint odor eliminator, you can use apple cider vinegar in a pinch. If you don’t typically buy white vinegar, stock up on a few bottles and enjoy the many safe, non-toxic uses for vinegar.

  1. Essential Oils 

First, it’s important to always use the purest essential oils to eliminate the inorganic ingredients found in some low-grade oils. If you use essential oils in your home routinely, you may already have your favorites, and they will work great for removing the paint smell. Dab a few drops of essential oil on several cotton balls and place them on saucers around the room. After a few hours, you should notice the paint odor diminishing and your favorite scents filling the air.

  1. Coffee 

Coffee beans smell delicious and are potent deodorizers. If you still have grounds left in the coffee maker, put a couple of spoonfuls in a bowl. You can also use ground coffee if you’ve already cleaned your coffee maker. For the average-sized room, you’ll need about four bowls to get rid of the paint odor. Let the coffee absorb the paint smell overnight, and wake up to the aroma of somewhat fresh coffee!

  1. Onions

If you’ve heard the adage, “Fight fire with fire,” you’ll understand why we recommend something so stinky as onions. That pungent aroma from fresh-cut onions that make our eyes water and noses burn can also neutralize paint odors. Cut an onion in fourths and place each piece in a separate bowl with the cut side up. It should take only a couple of hours until you smell more onions and less paint, so keep a “nose out” and remove the onions once the paint odor is gone.

  1. Candles

Using a candle to get rid of the paint smell in a house is two methods in one. First, the pleasant aroma will make the air smell nicer right away. Instead of a paint smell in the house, you’ll have your favorite fragrance filling the air. Second, the candle flame burns floating VOCs to a crisp. All those compounds that cause the strong smell of paint eventually die out, reducing the odor considerably.

  1. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a fine powder that is highly porous and absorbent and perfect for taking on paint odors. And, no, you can’t simply crush up BBQ charcoal for this remedy! Because activated charcoal has been ground and treated with high heat, it’s purer and safer than other charcoal products. In fact, activated charcoal is so safe that it can be used internally for specific ailments and externally for minor wounds.

For this method, use a large bowl and fill it about halfway full with activated charcoal. Place the bowl in the middle of the room you’ve painted and let it sit overnight. The next day, you should find that the paint smell has disappeared completely. Important note: To avoid difficult stains, be careful not to spill the charcoal or get it on upholstery or other fabrics.

  1. Diatomaceous Earth

A natural and powerful odor and moisture controller, diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized plankton. The high silica content allows the material to absorb liquids and odors easily. While diatomaceous earth isn’t poisonous, food-grade formulas cause less irritation for people and pets.

Because even food-grade formulas can cause minor skin or lung irritation, use a disposable baking pan. Fill the pan with diatomaceous earth and let it absorb the paint odor overnight. In the morning, take a breath of fresh air and throw the pan in the trash.

These tips for how to get rid of paint fumes naturally should take care of most paint odors as long as you keep your home properly ventilated. For at least three days, keep the air flowing and provide plenty of ventilation. You can continue to use window and ceiling fans, but again, be aware that cranking up the HVAC too soon could spread the odor.

For your next painting project, consider avoiding the strong paint odor by using zero-VOC paint. It’s important to note that even paint formulated without VOCs can still emit some odor. Whenever pigment or color is mixed with the base paint, it introduces additional VOCs and a strong odor to the mixture. These formulas are still a better choice than paint with high levels of VOCs for those who are sensitive to odors or for use in spaces with inadequate ventilation.

What’s Next?

Once you learn how to get rid of a paint smell, you can use the same methods to remove a multitude of odors from your home. And when you need help with other house cleaning challenges, you can count on The Maids®. Whether you do it yourself using our housekeeping how-tos or let us tackle the work with our budget-friendly residential cleaning services, we make cleaning more manageable. Get a free no-obligation estimate today, and find out how we do it.

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