How to Get Rid of Paint Smells – Tips & Prevention Strategies!

by Andrew Ahearne - February 24, 2022

Did you know that it takes 14 to 24 weeks for standard paint fumes to dissipate? That’s a long time, and while you’re marveling at your freshly painted room, everyone else is plugging their noses. If you need to know how to get rid of paint smells, try these nifty tricks today:

Cut a Few Onion Halves


Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire against fresh paint. Onions naturally release high levels of sulfur, which is a compound known to neutralize paint smells. Slice a few onions place them around your room for a couple of hours. Once you’re done eliminating paint fumes, put your onions straight in the bin.


Baking Soda to Remove Paint Odors


Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, has abrasive qualities that catch fumes to get rid of paint smells. It’s also highly versatile, and can be used to remove paint from metal, aswell as being great for general cleaning. Pour a few inches of baking soda into a few bowls, and lay them near your paint walls. Alternatively, you can spread your powder onto baking sheets.


Fill a Bucket of Water


This simple trick effectively absorbs paint solvent vapours and removes its foul odor. 

Do so by filling up a three-gallon bucket with water, lemon slices, and a tablespoon of salt. Proceed to leave your bucket in your room’s centre overnight. By the morning, the paint fumes should have significantly dissipated.


Using Charcoal to Absorb Paint Odors


Activated charcoal’s large surface is highly efficient in absorbing pollutants so that you can breathe fresh air. As paint odours hover around the surface, they cling to your charcoal’s porous surface and are deposited inside the container’s walls. 

Add some crushed charcoal to a few aluminium baking pans and place them around your freshly painted walls.


Place a Few Bowls of Vinegar


Solvents are the culprit behind paint smell, and you guessed it: vinegar contains solvents. Place bowls filled with vinegar around your room, and it will neutralize fumes and get rid of the paint smell. The acetic acid in vinegar also works as a disinfectant that can help clean your brushes after your painting project.


Coffee Beans



Caffeine found in coffee grounds contains nitrogen which absorbs paint smells. Place ground coffee beans in several small containers in your painting room and let them do their magic. Just be sure to put your beans in open containers, as your furry friends may feel compelled to nibble on them.

Unlike onions and vinegar, coffee beans smell good, so there’s no trade-off in terms of smell.


Natural Extracts to get rid of Paint Smells


Extracts like peppermint and vanilla extract are great at masking the paint smell. Do so by moistening a cotton ball with your preferred scent and placing it near your freshly painted walls. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of essential oil to bowls of water.




While candles don’t absorb paint smells, they are practical and efficiently mask them. This is especially useful if you have guests over, as they’ll be none the wiser. 

When purchasing, go for soy-based or natural beeswax candles as they are less toxic than paraffin candles. Place a few candles in the room and let them burn for a few hours. 


How to Prevent Paint Smells – Helpful Tips


If you’re planning to paint your house anytime soon, taking a proactive approach to stop paint smells is the best solution. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:  

Opt for Low VOC paints


VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are the paint chemicals that not only smell but can cause headaches, respiratory issues and even cancer. The most common VOCs include benzene, acetone, methylene chloride and formaldehyde.

If you want to keep paint fumes to a minimum, purchase paints with zero or low VOC amounts. In addition to releasing fewer painting fumes, they also reduce allergy-causing toxins and pollutants, making it a healthier alternative to traditional paints. These paint types are beneficial in non-ventilated areas like your bathroom or basement.


Turn off Your Air-Conditioning Unit and Close Air Vents


The last thing you need is paint fumes getting sucked up by your air-conditioning unit and recirculated throughout the house. Ensure your AC and air vents in rooms adjacent to your paint job are turned off and shut during your paint job. This will stop the air from spreading the smell elsewhere.


Paint in Cooler Temperatures


High humidity causes paint to dry slower, gradually emitting a foul odour. Furthermore, paint fumes released for more extended periods can spread onto other areas like your couch and curtains, stinking the fabric. To solve this, attempt your painting project on cooler days or make sure to dry your rooms quickly with a fan.


Close Paint Can Lids


One overlooked point is closing the lids of paint cans in your home. If left open, air can still enter your can and cause it to dry out faster while letting the paint smell escape. Be sure to seal and store your paint cans in a cool, dry place.


Wait for Paint Layers to Fully Dry before Reapplication


Wet paint emits strong odors and typically needs several hours to dry. Allowing your paint layers enough time to dry will reduce fumes and stench emitted.


Ensure your Room is Well-Ventilated


During your paint job, facilitate good airflow throughout the room by opening your windows and turning on a few fans. As a result, paint fumes will dissipate faster, and your paint will dry quicker – a win-win! 


Newline Painting – A Professional Paint Service in Melbourne


As professional interior and exterior painters, we know all too well the struggles of getting rid of paint smells. Our Melbourne painters are trained to handle different paint types and take proper precautions to minimize fumes.

At Newline Painting, we offer a wide range of expert interior and exterior painting services. To book a painting service, contact us via our website or call us on 1300 044 206. Get started today!

Google Rating
Based on 22 reviews