How to remove paint thinner smell

Paint thinner, such as turpentine, is used to clean paintbrushes after painting and to remove paint from other surfaces. Known to have a strong odour, paint thinner has a smell that can linger long after you're finished working with it. While the smell will eventually dissipate, if you're sensitive to strong odours you might want to get rid of the chemical odour sooner rather than later. Instead of masking the smell with air fresheners, you can remove it altogether with odour-absorbing materials.

Mix 2 tbsp citronella oil, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and 1 gallon cold water in a bucket. Pour the odour-removing solution into small bowls and place around the room that has a paint thinner odour. Wipe the citrus solution over surfaces where you used your paint thinner and brushes to remove odour.

Fill a shoebox with activated charcoal and set the shoebox underneath or next to the area where you were using paint thinner. Charcoal is a natural odour absorber that will help remove the paint thinner smell without adding its own fragrance.

Place a few drops of vanilla extract on each of two or three cotton balls. Tuck the cotton balls behind furniture or underneath appliances to remove the offensive paint thinner odour and replace it with a pleasant smell.


Baking soda, clean cat litter and coffee grounds also remove smelly odours from the air. Open windows while using paint thinner to circulate the air and reduce its offensive odour. Clean paintbrushes outdoors to avoid filling your home with the odour.


Before using the citronella solution on furniture, check to make sure it won't remove any finish by first applying it to an inconspicuous place. Keep children and pets out of the area when using paint thinner.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • 2 tbsp citronella oil
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • Bowls
  • Clean cloth
  • Shoebox
  • Activated charcoal
  • Cotton balls
  • Vanilla extract
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.