How To Get Rid of Paint Smells

Painting your home is a great way to liven up the appearance of a room and increase the overall value of your home. However, the fumes from the fresh paint can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches. These fumes are caused by Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. In general, the higher the quality of paint, the higher the amount of VOCs. Here are a few methods for preventing and absorbing VOC fumes that come along when painting:


Before, during, and after painting, be sure to keep the room your working in well ventilated. Please be sure to have windows wide open. If you are painting a room without windows, such as a bathroom, place fans throughout the room blowing air out of the door and into another room with the windows open.

While the paint is drying, be sure to have fans sucking the fumes and moisture out of the room, and blowing the gases outside. Also, try running your air conditioner or a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process. Try to paint as early as possible, so the room has time to air out before you seal up the house for the night.

How To Get Rid of Paint Smells

Pure Vanilla Extract

Try adding some clear, pure vanilla extract to the paint. The extract will break down and neutralize the VOCs without changing the texture, consistency, or color of the paint. Take all the paint to a well-ventilated area or outside and open all the cans. Leave them to air out for about 5 minutes. Upon returning to the paint, make sure that the initial, overwhelming paint smell is gone. Next, add the extract:

  • One teaspoon per quart
  • One tablespoon per gallon
  • 1/4 cup per every 5 gallons

Thoroughly mix until all signs of additive are gone. The paint is then ready for immediate use.


Here are two methods using onions to absorb the VOC fumes.

Thinly slice a large onion and place on 3-4 plates around the room and let sit overnight.

Cut a large onion in half and place the halves cut side down in a small bowl of water. Place on opposite sides of the room and leave for 24 hours. If the smell of onion still lingers in the room, open a window or run a fan, and the smell should dissipate in 2-3 hours.


Lastly, try using charcoal to absorb VOC fumes.

Lightly crush wood charcoal and place it in a bucket with wet paper towels or rags. Leave the bucket in the room overnight, and the smell should be absorbed by morning.

Place 2-4 CUPS of charcoal briquettes in paper sacks and place them all over the room. Leave bags in room for 24 hours.

Painting is a great way to refresh a home but be cautious of the VOC fumes as they can be harmful and hazardous, especially to pregnant women and small pets. Also, read our article on getting rid of mothballs smell.