Whether you are touching up a few spots or painting all the walls, one aspect of painting that no one looks forward to is the smell.
The fumes generated by paint can last for days even if you ventilate the area thoroughly.
For oil-based paints, the odor can be even stronger and last longer.
That is why it is recommended that you wear a mask when the paint is still wet.
9 Ways to Eliminate Bad Paint Smell
Besides taking all the precautions and wearing a mask, there are also natural ways you can use to reduce and get rid of the paint fumes.
What follows are nine tips that will help you rid the air of fumes faster, so you can enjoy your new paint job without the unpleasant smell.
1- Baking Soda
That box of baking soda is in your refrigerator for a reason.
Baking soda naturally reduces odors which means that it is perfect for also eliminating paint fumes.
Put a little baking soda in several small dishes around the room.
Or if you have carpeting, you can simply sprinkle it over the carpet and let it sit.
The baking soda will absorb the fumes and then you can simply vacuum it up from the carpet.
A good, cheap box fan may be one of the best and easiest solutions to the paint fume smell issues in your apartment.
Simply place the fan in an open window, make sure it is pointing outside, open another window on the opposite side of the room if possible, and then turn on the fan.
This will suck out the paint fumes and help the paint to dry even faster.
3- Grounds from Coffee
If you like the smell of coffee, then this tip may be for you.
Instead of tossing out the grounds after you have made a pot of coffee, place them in a few small bowls and put them around the room in which you have painted.
The aroma from the grounds will absorb the smell generated by the paint as well as thinner fumes rather quickly.
While you will need to enjoy the scent generated by the coffee grounds, for most people that is a better alternative compared to the paint.
4- Lemon with Water
Toss some lemon slices into a bucket of water and place it in a room.
Depending on the size of the room, you may want to place a few smaller containers.
If you add a little salt to the water, the lemon will absorb the fumes at a greater rate.
If you do not have any lemon peels, you may try mixing lemon juice instead.
That will keep you from having to peel any lemons.
This may seem counter-intuitive as the concentrated odor generated by onions will tear up the eyes.
However, when you cut a medium to large size onion in half, you can place each piece on opposite sides of the room on a small dish with the cut side face up.
The odor generated by the onion may be noticeable, but it does not tear up the eyes.
What it will do is absorb the paint fumes relatively quickly.
6- Scented Candles
A rather obvious solution is to place a couple of scented candles in the room.
Keep in mind that the candles work because the wax absorbs the odors, so you can go with standard candles if you desire.
Plus, there are candles that are specifically made to absorb unwanted odors which include paint fumes. You can go for them either.
Remember not to use paraffin-based candles as they can emit more toxins into the air.
Instead, you can use soy-based or natural beeswax candles that are safe and natural to breathe in.
Just make sure that the candles do not cause a fire hazard in your home.
You can do this by placing the candle in a bowl that has a small amount of water.
7- Vinegar with Water
Vinegar has an odor all its own, but white vinegar may be one of the best and certainly least expensive of all-natural products that absorb the smell from epoxy paint.
Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and place them in several containers.
While white vinegar does have its own odor, it does not stay for long once you have opened the windows.
You already know that deactivated charcoal acts as an excellent odor-absorber.
Irrespective of what kind of smell it is, you can get it to eliminate the odor and feel the fresh air around.
This is available either as small pouches or as a crushed formula.
You can buy and place them in several bowls or saucers around your freshly painted walls to absorb the bad smell quickly.
9- Natural Extracts
This is my most favorite and hopefully you will like it too.
For homeowners who are really allergic to a bad smell, I usually add a drop (or two) of natural extracts like vanilla or peppermint into a paint can.
If you want you can simply place a few drops of these natural extracts on the cotton balls.
Place these balls in a small bowl and keep them near to the smelly walls.
These extracts will automatically lessen the odor and make your room feel refreshed very quickly.
Few Additional Tips to Avoid the Paint Fumes Altogether
IMO, if you take certain precautions (before you start with your project) it’s easy to prevent the paint, primer, and thinner fumes from coming.
Plus, it will make the process less time-consuming and a bit easier for you.
a) Check the Weather
Before starting your paint project, check the weather forecast.
You should avoid painting on days when the humidity in the air is high.
If you paint on high humidity days, most likely the paint will require a longer time to dry.
Plus, it will emit a stronger odor that can get trapped in soft materials, clothing, carpet, and upholstery.
b) Choose the Right Paint
While buying an oil-based paint or primer, pick the ones that are labeled “low odor”.
While it’s good to pick low or zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint products, you can consider even better options such as milk paints, chalk paints, clay paints, etc.
Also, use eco-friendly thinners for thinning the paints as it emits very little odor.
c) Allow Enough Drying Time
Walls that are still wet can trap the fumes faster and will emit toxic gases for a longer period of time.
So, it’s crucial that you let the walls and other surfaces dry completely before you apply the next layer of paint or primer coat.
d) Keep the Paint Materials Covered
When not in use, it’s good to keep your paintbrushes, rollers, trays, and paint cans covered.
This will keep the paint smell and fumes from getting scattered around the room.
e) Keep the Doors and Windows Open
Keeping the room properly ventilated is important if you want to prevent the smelly fumes from dissipating into the air.
Remember you should only keep the doors and windows open in the room where you are painting or stripping the paint.
You should keep the other rooms closed to avoid the smell from spreading into the whole house.
Combine Different Tips and Achieve Faster Results…
Keep in mind that all these tips will take an hour or longer to eliminate the bad paint smell on the freshly painted walls, ceilings, or furniture.
With the exception of fans and candles which do not go together for obvious reasons, you can combine virtually any other method and get rid of the paint odors even faster.
The most obvious is the fan and the other products besides the candles which will help clear away the paint fumes from your room or apartment.
However, baking soda and any other solution, such as vinegar or lemon and water will certainly work.
Remember that when the primer or paint dries the fume-generating elements mostly become trapped inside the paint.
And those are nine cost-effective, natural products that can reduce the odor generated by paint fumes.
You probably have one or more of these items in your home, so be sure to stock up before painting.
Douglas Becker (aka Painter Doug) has over twenty years of experience as a painter in Adkins, Texas. At present, he resides in Florida with his family.
From painting multi-storeyed houses, condos, and apartments to large commercial buildings and small offices, he had served various customers in areas not only in Adkins but also in Southwest Florida, Sarasota, Naples, and many more. To know more about him check here.