6 Ways to Get Rid of Paint Smell Naturally

Open paint bucket with light green paint dripping and paint brush leaning on bucket

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

A fresh coat of paint is one of the least expensive and quickest ways to refresh a room or piece of furniture, but the lingering fumes can be irritating. While opening doors and windows to let in outdoor air is one of the best ways to disperse the smell of new paint, there are also household supplies that naturally absorb paint odors.

You don't have to wait until you finish painting; you can start absorbing paint fumes at the beginning of your project and reduce the overall smell.

Here are tips to get rid of the paint smell with the six common, eco-friendly products.

Natural Ways to Reduce Paint Smell

  1. Baking Soda

    Baking soda absorbs odors in the laundry and refrigerator, and it can also be used to capture paint fumes. Pour the powder into shallow bowls and place them all around the room.

    When you are finished painting, you can dispose of the baking soda by pouring it down the drain or garbage disposal to give your plumbing a quick refresh.

    Tip

    If the odor of paint still lingers, sprinkle some baking soda on the room's carpet and upholstered furniture and leave it overnight. Vacuum away the powder and the odors in the morning.

    Baking soda pile in small glass bowl next to paint bucket

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Onions

    It may be a toss-up on whether smelling the fumes or the onions is worse, but the onion smell is more natural, and you may actually like their pungent aroma.

    Simply slice two medium onions and place the pieces in saucers around the room. When the job is over, don't use these for cooking, because they may have absorbed volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

    White onions being sliced on wood cutting board

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Charcoal

    Activated charcoal is an excellent odor reducer. You can purchase it in small pouches or in a crushed formula that can be placed in bowls around the room. Use the leftover to make sachets to stick in smelly shoes.

    Crushed charcoal scooped up with metal spoon from glass bowl

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Lemon Water

    Water will absorb VOCs on its own, but adding some slices of fresh lemon juice will give off a clean citrus scent that is even more refreshing. Water takes a bit longer to absorb odors, so plan to leave the bowls of lemon water in the room overnight.

    Sliced lemons floating in glass pitchers of water

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Coffee Grounds

    Bowls of dry coffee grounds can absorb the paint fumes (and who doesn't love the smell of coffee?). Be sure to dispose of them in the trash when you're done.

    Coffee grounds separated into small white containers

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  6. Natural Extracts

    Two of the best natural extracts to eliminate paint odor and refresh the room's air are vanilla and peppermint. Simply place a few drops of the extract on cotton balls and place them in small bowls or saucers scattered around the room. Some painting experts swear by adding a drop or two of the extracts directly to the can of paint before starting the job to lessen the odor.

    Essential oil drops poured into glass container with cotton balls

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Tips to Prevent Heavy Paint Fumes

By addressing paint fumes before you even begin a painting project, you can reduce the odor and make the process easier.

  • While it is not always possible, the best way to avoid heavy fumes is to select a healthy alternative paint, like one with low or zero VOCs. If you must use an oil-based paint or primer, choose those that are marked as low odor. There are also paints made from plants, milk, minerals, or clay.
  • Before you begin painting your house, check the weather forecast. Avoid days when the humidity is high. High humidity in the air slows the drying process, and paint emits the strongest odor while being applied and waiting to dry. The longer it takes to dry, the more chance soft materials (carpet, drapes, upholstery) will absorb the odors.
  • Let each coat of paint dry completely before applying the next layer of paint. Damp walls can trap fumes and slowly emit odor for a longer time. As you paint, keep the lids on paint cans and cover paint trays and brushes with plastic wrap when not in use.
  • While painting one room, keep the doors and windows open if possible to allow the fumes to dissipate into the air. But keep doors of the other rooms in your house closed to prevent the fumes from spreading. Use the same tips when stripping paint for a project.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. What Are Volatile Organic Compounds? U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  2. Chapter 5: Indoor Air Pollutants and Toxic Materials. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  3. Healthy Indoor Painting Practices. U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA).