Oh, the smell of a freshly painted room! It signals the beginning of a creative new endeavor and a fresh, clean start. It can also signal that it’s time to open a window and put on the fan.
But if your fan isn’t getting rid of the fumes fast enough and you’re starting to get a headache, you might try absorbing the fumes instead of swirling them around the room.
Salt, lemon, and vinegar all have the power to soak up paint smells. 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
To get rid of the paint fumes:
- 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. Alternatively, fill them halfway with vinegar only (no salt or lemon).
- Either way, place the bowls around the room and let them sit overnight or until the paint smell is gone.
- Rinse the saltwater or vinegar down the sink and discard lemons in the trash or compost. Do not eat or drink them, since they have now absorbed the odor-causing particulates.
Ventilate the room
The lemon & salt solution (or the vinegar) should work fairly quickly on its own, but it doesn’t hurt to put the fan back on. This time:
- Be sure to cover the room’s vents, so the paint fumes don’t circulate into other parts of the house.
- You’ll also want to face the fan toward an open window to direct the fumes outside.
- Leave the room and close the door behind you.
- Run the fans for 2 to 3 days, or until the paint smell is gone.
- 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 off-gas 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.
- You can avoid toxic paint fumes altogether by choosing natural paints made from plants, clay, minerals or milk protein.
Natural Living Guide
Find practical tips & natural alternatives to the everyday chemicals that invade our lives.