How to banish paint odors – Top Tips

7 Feb, 2024

How to banish paint odors – Top Tips

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If you are a homeowner or have ever decorated a home you will know the irritating nature of paint odors. How do you deal with them? In this article we offer you some top tips and a top step by step guide on how to banish paint odors once and for all.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Banish Paint Odors from Your Home

multi-coloured wall paint samples in a stripe formation
Painting walls is a quick and easy way to decorate. But watch out for those paint odors

Photo by David Pisnoy

Freshly painted walls can give your home a vibrant new look and feel, but the accompanying paint odor can be unpleasant and overpowering. This odor, primarily caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint, can linger for days or weeks if not addressed properly.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through practical steps to efficiently eliminate paint smell from your home, using both natural methods and advanced solutions. We aim to help you quickly return to enjoying your newly transformed space, free from persistent paint fumes.

Understanding Paint Odor

Paint odor is primarily due to the release of VOCs during the paint drying process. These chemical compounds give paint its color, durability, and adhesive properties, but they can also adversely affect our health and environment.

Exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause short-term symptoms like headache, dizziness, and nausea, while long-term effects include respiratory issues and increased risk of cancer. Additionally, VOCs also contribute to air pollution and the formation of smog.

To protect ourselves and our environment from the negative effects of VOCs, it’s essential to address paint odor as soon as possible. Let’s now dive into some effective ways to banish the paint smell from your home.

This strong orange paint colour could give off paint odors
You may be attracted by the striking effect your chosen paint colour may offer, but consider the paint odors

Photo by Natalia Y.

Natural Remedies to Eliminate Paint Odor

  • Ventilation: The simplest and most effective method is to ventilate your space. Open all windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate, which will help disperse the VOCs faster. Using fans can enhance airflow, directing the odors outside.
  • Baking Soda: Scatter bowls of baking soda around the room. Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and will help neutralize the smell. For smaller spaces or surfaces, apply baking soda directly and let it sit for several hours before vacuuming it up.
  • Activated Charcoal: Similar to baking soda, activated charcoal can absorb odors from the air. Place small pouches or bowls of activated charcoal around the painted area for a few days to help reduce the smell.
  • Water and Lemon: Water absorbs solvents in paint, and lemon acts as a natural deodorizer. Fill a few bowls with water and add slices of lemon, then leave them in the room overnight to combat the paint smell.
  • Onion Slices: Though it might sound counterintuitive, onions can actually absorb and neutralize paint odors. Slice a few onions into halves and place them in bowls of water around the room. The onions need not be left for too long, as they can start to impart their own smell.
  • Vinegar: Place bowls of white vinegar around the room, as vinegar is a strong odor-neutralizer. While vinegar itself has a strong smell, it will dissipate along with the paint odors, leaving behind a less potent smell.
  • Coffee Grounds: Coffee grounds are another natural deodorizer. Place bowls of fresh or used coffee grounds throughout the room. They will absorb the paint odors and also leave a pleasant, familiar coffee scent.
  • Essential Oils: Mix your favorite essential oils with water and use the mixture to wipe down walls and other surfaces. Essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, or lemon can help mask the paint smell with a more soothing aroma.
  • Houseplants: Some houseplants can help purify the air by absorbing pollutants. Spider plants, bamboo palms, and peace lilies are known for their air-purifying abilities and may help reduce VOC concentration.

Type of Paint That Doesn’t Smell

While natural remedies can help reduce paint odor, choosing low or no-VOC paint is one of the most effective ways to avoid it. These paints contain little to no harmful chemicals and have a minimal smell. As such, they’re great for preventing paint odors.

Low-VOC and zero-VOC paints are now readily available in most brands and colors, making them a safe and eco-friendly choice for your home. They also have similar quality and durability as traditional paints, so you don’t have to compromise on the finish of your walls.

Advanced Solutions for Removing Paint Odor

If natural remedies and low-VOC paint aren’t enough to eliminate the lingering paint smell from your home, there are a few more advanced solutions you can try:

  • Air Purifiers: Using an air purifier with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter can help remove VOCs and other pollutants from the air. Place it in the room or area where you painted it, and let it run for several hours to improve air quality.
  • Charcoal Filters: Like activated charcoal, charcoal filters can be placed in rooms to absorb odors. They are especially useful for large spaces and can be left in place for a few days until the smell dissipates.
  • Ozone Generators: Ozone generators release ozone into the air, which can chemically react with VOCs and neutralize them. However, ozone can harm humans, so it’s essential to follow safety precautions when using this method.
a white air purifier
Consider installing an air purifier to cleanse the air in your painted room to get rid of paint odors

Photo by Lucas Hoang

Other Factors to Consider

When dealing with paint odors, several additional factors could influence the effectiveness of the above mentioned methods. It’s important to consider:

  • Temperature and Humidity: Higher temperatures and humidity levels can increase the rate at which VOCs are released. Painting during cooler, drier weather or controlling the indoor climate can help reduce odors.
  • Room Size: Smaller rooms may become more saturated with paint odors and require more intensive ventilation and odor absorption strategies than larger, more open spaces.
  • Time: The length of time since the painting took place can also impact odor intensity. Fresh paint odors may be more easily addressed, while those allowed to set may require more time and advanced methods to eliminate.
  • Paint Age: Older cans of paint may contain higher levels of VOCs or could have degraded over time, potentially affecting both the quality of the painting job and the intensity of the resulting odors.
  • Health Sensitivities: Health sensitivities to VOCs and odors should be accounted for. People with respiratory conditions, allergies, or chemical sensitivities may need to avoid exposure until the odor has been adequately cleared.
  • Paint Application: The method and thickness of paint application can affect drying times and the amount of VOCs released. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for optimal results.

The Guide to Banish Paint Odors in Summary

Paint odor can be a nuisance, but it’s not impossible to eliminate. By using natural remedies such as bowls of vinegar, or choosing low or zero-VOC paints, and implementing advanced solutions when needed, you can minimize the impact of paint odors in your home.

Consider all factors that could influence the intensity of the odor and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and successful painting experience. With these tips, you can enjoy a fresh, odor-free home in no time.


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