How to remove paint fumes & smell

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting is one of the least expensive home improvement projects when you do it yourself. The project is a rewarding one as you see an old dingy room transformed. However, one of the drawbacks to doing your own painting is dealing with the fumes. Overexposure to paint fumes can have serious side effects. It can cause headaches and irritate nasal passages, eyes and the throat. Although the paint fumes will eventually dissipate, a few techniques will speed up the process.

Add a few drops of vanilla extract or peppermint oil to the paint. While this will not completely remove the paint odour, it may work well enough for you to stand it.

Open the windows and air out the room. Use fans to help expedite the process of removing paint fumes from the room by directing them to the open windows.

Use crushed activated charcoal to deodorise the room during or after painting. Place the charcoal into a bucket and put it in the centre of the room. Add a couple of wet rags to the bucket and let it stand overnight. Regular barbecue charcoal will work if the activated carbon variety is not available.

Light some candles. Burning candles will burn off lingering paint fumes. It only takes about three to four hours depending on the size of the room. Place the candle in the centre of the room and as close to the floor as possible to avoid candle soot getting on the ceiling.

Place bowls of vinegar around the room. Vinegar is a natural deodoriser. It absorbs a variety of odours around the home.

Place two or three buckets of clean water around the room and leave overnight. Water will absorb the odours although not as efficiently as the other methods.


Avoid oil-based paint whenever possible. Acrylic and latex paints on today's market offer the same sheen and finish as oil-based paint with easier clean up and lower cost. Purchase paints that are odour free. If you are extremely sensitive to paint fumes, the extra money is well spent. Wear a proper respirator.

Things You'll Need

  • Vanilla extract
  • Peppermint extract
  • Fan
  • Activated charcoal
  • Buckets
  • Wet rags
  • Candle
  • Vinegar
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About the Author

Robert Ferguson has been a writer since 2000. His published work includes material for major companies in the home improvement, plumbing, HVAC and power tool industry. Ferguson is a self-employed, licensed building contractor in Florida with more than 30 years of hands on experience experience focusing primarily on residential remodeling, repair, renovation and construction.