Paint Smell Maid Sailors

How to Get Rid of Paint Smell

A fresh coat of paint can transform any space in your home on a relatively small budget. Whether you’re painting a nursery to prepare for a new baby or are simply looking to refresh one of your living spaces, you may be planning for a long day ( or the weekend!) of taping, priming, and painting.

But what about the fumes? If you’ve ever painted a room before, you probably know that paint smells can linger for days or even weeks after your paint job is complete. This can be irritating to those with sensitivities to paint fumes—and it may be off-putting to potential buyers if you’re looking to sell your home.

The good news is that you can take some proactive steps, such as making potpourri, to not only protect yourself from paint fumes but to get rid of that smell as soon as possible once your paint job is complete.

Are Lingering Paint Fumes Dangerous?

In general, limited exposure to paint fumes is not a huge health risk—especially if you’re generally a healthy person with no respiratory illnesses. However, it is important to understand that most paints do contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause some short-term side effects when inhaled. Some of these side effects include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • light-headedness
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • eye, nose, and/or throat irritation

With these potential side effects in mind, it’s a good idea to minimize your exposure to paint fumes whenever possible. This includes taking measures to reduce your exposure while painting and doing your best to rid the space of fumes after the work is done.

Minimizing Exposure to Paint Fumes

There are a few simple yet effective steps you can take to reduce exposure to paint fumes during any indoor paint project and possibly avoid side effects of coming into contact with VOCs.

Always Paint in a Ventilated Area

Never paint in an enclosed space or closed office; be sure to open windows and turn on fans while painting whenever possible. Fresh air can make all the difference in avoiding exposure to VOCs and will also reduce the amount of time it takes for paint fumes to dissipate once you’re done painting.

Choose the Right Paint

Double-check to make sure you’re buying an indoor paint, as there are differences in chemical content between interior and exterior paints. Using exterior paint indoors can be more dangerous to your health and will result in a stronger chemical odor that is more difficult to get rid of.

Use a Respirator While Painting

Protect yourself while painting by not only donning gloves and eyewear but wearing a respirator mask as well. This will reduce the amount of VOCs that you inhale.

Getting Rid of Paint Fumes: Methods to Try

After your paint job is complete and you’re happy with your newly painted space, you may still notice some lingering paint smells that may be off-putting. While there is no “magic” trick for getting rid of these smells instantly, there are some methods you can try that will help absorb those odors and have your home smelling normal again as quickly as possible.

Baking Soda

It’s no secret that baking soda is effective at absorbing odors; why not put this to use to get rid of lingering paint smells?

The best way to do this is to grab a few shallow bowls and fill them with about a half cup of baking soda each. Then, add water to fill the bowls and leave them in each corner of the room. After about 24 hours, you should notice a significant decrease in paint smell. For the best results, keep windows open and fans running in the affected room as well.


Believe it or not, onions can also be effective in getting rid of lingering paint fumes. And no, it won’t leave your room smelling like onions!

Start by peeling a couple of medium-sized onions and cutting them in half, just as you would if you were getting ready to dice them up for a recipe. Once they’re sliced in half, place each half in its own shallow bowl, being sure to keep the cut side of the onion facing up. Then, place the bowls around different areas of the room and let them get to work.

After a few hours, swap out the onions with fresh ones until the smell is gone. Be sure not to consume or otherwise reuse the onions, as they will have absorbed chemical fumes.


If you have a little more time to set aside for getting rid of excess paint fumes, you can use the lemon-water method, which is best done overnight. For this method, all you need to do is fill some shallow bowls with water and add some slices of fresh lemon. Then, place the bowls around the room. Water, on its own, is effective at absorbing VOCs over a period of about 12 hours. The lemon will simply leave behind a fresh citrus scent that can overpower any remaining paint smells in your home.

Odor-Eliminating Candles

Lighting a scented candle won’t eliminate the paint odors, but may help to mask them in the meantime. If you really want to get rid of paint smells with a candle, purchase an odor-eliminating candle and burn it in the affected room for several hours. You can find odor-eliminating candles at your local grocery store or most home-goods stores.

Keeping Your Home Clean and Fresh

Lingering paint fumes can be a real headache—figuratively and literally. However, by taking these steps and trying out a few methods, you can protect yourself from the effects of paint fumes and get rid of leftover paint smells as quickly as possible following your paint project. From there, you can sit back and enjoy your freshly painted space without worrying about VOCs and other potential health hazards.

If you could use some additional help in keeping your home looking and smelling its best, a professional house cleaner may be your best bet! Maid Sailors is happy to serve clients in NYC and the surrounding areas with all their house-cleaning needs. From vacuuming and dusting to disinfecting surfaces and everything in between, our certified and insured cleaners are here to make your life easier.

We offer a number of cleaning services to suit your needs and budget, including move-in/move-out cleaning and deep cleaning. You can even book an appointment with us from the convenience of your computer or mobile device using our quick and easy online form. Contact Maid Sailors today at (212) 299-5170 to find out more about what we can do for you!

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