How to Remove the Smell of New Paint

Posted on Apr 20th 2019


How to Remove the Smell of New Paint

A fresh coat of paint completely rejuvenates the presence and atmosphere of any room, but lingering paint odor can sour the excitement pretty quickly. While low-VOC and low-odor paints are prevalent in today’s market, many brands still offer traditional oil-based paints that will leave behind fumes as their high solvent content lingers in the air. Yes, the smell will disappear once the paint has dried and the solvents have fully evaporated, but that still leaves plenty of time for you to be exposed to the fumes and their effects, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, or breathing difficulties. Fortunately, there are many DIY solutions to eliminating the bothersome fumes. Here are some tips on how to remove the odor of paint after professional painting, brought to you by our professional interior painters.


Activated charcoal is a highly effective odor neutralizer. Because it’s a very porous type of charcoal, it has more surface area in which to absorb unpleasant smells, and it's a safer option than chemical odor neutralizers. Better yet, it’s simple to use yet rapid to make a difference. Place bowls or buckets filled with crushed charcoal or loose granules around your home, mainly focused in the area where the painting has taken place. Within a few hours, the smell will be noticeably alleviated. Or, if you want to address the problem before it even begins, you can also place the charcoal around the home the day before painting starts.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are another safe and successful deodorizer for that new paint smell. Similar to the process of using charcoal, you can place bowls of coffee grounds (or freshly ground coffee beans) around the home and in the space being painted to absorb the odor over the course of a few hours. You’ll also find that while the smell of paint dissipates, the aromatic scent of coffee will take its place, which is great news for any coffee lover.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used for many different odds and ends around the home, and luckily for you if you’re stuck with the lingering smell of new paint, absorbing odors is one of those surprising applications. This is an inexpensive option to pick up at your local grocery store; you may even have a few extra boxes laying around the house that you can put to use. Either place several boxes of open baking soda throughout the space or fill a few bowls up and situate them in the same way. For carpeted rooms, you could also try sprinkling baking soda across the entire carpet. Allow it to sit overnight and vacuum it up in the morning.


Though you may raise your eyebrows at this unorthodox method, onions–despite having a strong smell of their own–are surprisingly good at absorbing pungent odors. Cut two medium-sized onions into halves across their rings (like you would to add slices to a burger) and place each half into separate bowls with the cut side facing upwards. Situate the bowls on opposite corners of the room with the offending fumes and allow them to sit overnight. By morning, any lingering odor will be gone. Just be sure to throw them out instead of adding them to your next meal; after spending several hours sponging up the toxic chemicals from paint fumes, it would be a dangerous idea to eat them.


Candles are perhaps the most simple approach on this list. The flame of lighting one helps to burn flammable components in paint solvent, removing the toxicity of paint fumes from your home. And, as a nice bonus, the room will instead be filled with the pleasant smell of whatever type of candle you use. Odor-eliminating candles are available and preferred for a more thorough job, but ordinary candles will work just fine if you don’t want to go out of your way. Once you have some candles to use, it’s as simple a task as lighting them and leaving them to do their magic. Place one or two around the room (preferably in fire-safe holders) and allow them to sit for a few hours, keeping the door closed to prevent anyone from accidentally putting the flame out or knocking the candle over. Check in every half hour or so to make sure they’re still burning safely.


Water has the ability to absorb solvents from paint vapor, eliminating the strong odor whether you use it during or after painting. Fill a few buckets and place them around the room, then leave them overnight to take effect. Though this isn’t quite as potent a method as burning a candle, it’s the safer option if you’re concerned with leaving an open flame burning in your home for an extended period of time. For improved results, you can combine the water with other odor-absorbing substances. Adding distilled white vinegar, for example, will help to neutralize the smell, and mixing in baking soda will increase the speed of absorption. Lemon slices can also be incorporated to add a fresh, clean scent to the space.

Ventilating the Room

Always make sure the space is properly ventilated before, during, and at least a few days after the painting process. Open the windows, leave the ceiling fan running, or bring in some portable fans to expel paint fumes instead of trying to mask them. Ventilating the room along with any of the previous DIY methods will ensure your home is fume-free as soon as possible.

Remember: the goal is to absorb or completely remove the lingering paint odor, not to cover it up and continue breathing it in. While camouflaging the smell may provide a temporary relief where the smell is concerned, you’ll still be subjected to any aftereffects of continued exposure to the fumes. Hopefully at least one of these tips will help you with a permanent solution to removing paint odors in your home.

Do you have any questions? Contact one of our Painter1 interior painting professionals today to discuss painting your home's interior walls. We're happy to help!