Absorb Paint Fumes Quickly And Safely

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Oh, the smell of a freshly painted room! It signals the beginning of a creative new endeavor and a fresh, clean start.

It also signals that it’s time to open a window and put on the fan! But if the fan isn’t getting rid of the fumes fast enough and you’re starting to get a headache, try absorbing the fumes instead of swirling them around the room.

Salt, lemon and vinegar all have the power to soak up paint smells pretty quickly. And because you’re absorbing the chemicals instead of blowing them around, they won’t linger in your air ducts or spread to other parts of the house.

Absorb the paint fumes

First, grab some bowls and fill them halfway with water. Add a few slices of lemon and/or a quarter cup of salt to each bowl. Or instead of lemon & salt, fill a few bowls halfway with vinegar.

Place the bowls around the room and let them sit overnight or until the paint smell is gone. Rinse the salt water or vinegar down the sink and discard lemons in the trash or compost. Do not eat or drink them.

Properly ventilate the room

Healthy Indoor Air Test by Home Air CheckThe lemon & salt solution (or the vinegar) should work fairly quickly on its own, but you can add some fans if you choose. Be sure to cover the room’s vents, so the paint fumes don’t circulate into other parts of the house.

Be sure to face the fan toward an open window to direct the fumes outside. Then leave the room and close the door behind you.

Run the fans all day from the time you begin painting until 2 to 3 days after you’re done.

Good to know

  • This salt-lemon-vinegar trick also works to absorb other chemicals such paint thinner, chemical spray deodorizers and that (also toxic) new rug, new furniture and new car smell.
  • Since the salt, water, lemon slices and vinegar will absorb the odor-causing bacteria, they should not be used in food or drink afterward.
  • You can avoid toxic fumes altogether by choosing natural paints made from plants, clay, minerals or milk.
  • Never apply a new coat of latex or oil paint before the last coat has fully dried. Damp coats of paint or primer become trapped under the dry coat and can slowly offgas chemicals into the room for several years. Follow the drying instructions on the label and allow extra drying time if it is raining or you live in a humid climate.


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