How to Get Rid of Fresh Paint Smell

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to transform a home, that is, until you realize how much stinking the paint will make your whole house. Whether you’re repainting a room or opening a whole new home with a splash of color, painting the walls is a much smellier affair than anyone ever imagined.

And so, we’re dedicating this episode of “Beat the Stink” to helping you eliminate toxic odors emanating from your freshly painted walls.

We spoke with the experts and got the inside scoop on everything you need to know about the wet paint smell, including how to get rid of it and how to avoid it altogether. So here’s your guide to beating the stench of fresh paint.

What exactly does fresh paint smell like?

Like so many aesthetic applications, interior paint is rife with chemicals. So it’s no surprise that some paints are toxic and, yes, smell really bad.

“Volatile Organic Compounds in Paint Can Be Toxic at High Enough Exposure Levels,” Says Building Biologist Corinne Segura, from my chemical-free home. “That’s why it’s important to use the proper personal protective equipment for the type of paint you’re using and to increase airflow while painting.”

Like some new furniture, fresh paint has an initial outgassing period of approximately 24 hours. But some paint odors may linger for about two weeks. That’s why you’ll want to be vigilant to limit your exposure and tone down the odor as much as possible during this time.

Here are some expert tips for keeping stinky toxins away from fresh paint.

Activate ventilation

Ventilation helps prevent the reabsorption of volatile organic compounds into any porous material in the room.

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Ventilation is essential – both during and directly after painting an interior space – so you’ll want windows open and several fans running.

“Ventilation is important because it helps prevent VOCs from reabsorbing into any porous material in the room,” Segura explains.

Just make sure the ventilation method you use doesn’t increase the humidity in the room, which can cause VOCs to off-gas more than they otherwise would. In other words, choose a hot, dry day instead of a humid, rainy day to paint.

Have a ‘bake-out’

The best way to get rid of the wet paint smell is to “bake” the house after the paint is dry.

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A “bake-out” is pretty much what it sounds like – turn up the heat and bake the inside of your home. Combined with ventilation, this can be an effective way to speed up the degassing process and eliminate toxins.

“The best way to get rid of the fresh paint smell is to perform a house bake after the paint is dry,” Segura says. “Raise the room temperature to 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for three to five days. High heat promotes and accelerates paint outgassing.

Just make sure the paint is dry before turning up the heat, because you don’t want to apply the paint or dry it out when the heat is high. So before you hit the thermostat, Segura recommends checking with the paint manufacturer to determine how long your paint takes to dry completely and the ideal temperature range to maintain while drying.

Operate an ozone generator

Ozone generators work by releasing ozone into the air.

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Another way to lessen the overpowering smell of fresh paint? By using what is called an ozone generator.

“Ozone generators can be an effective way to remove the smell of fresh paint from homes if used correctly,” says Naveen Tikaram, cleaning expert and contributing author of 10 Minute Homemaking. “Ozone generators work by releasing ozone into the air, reacting with certain pollutants and odors and turning them into non-toxic molecules.”

Just note that ozone generators should only be used in unoccupied spaces and never near people or pets, especially those with respiratory problems.

Soak up the stench

Baking soda is effective at absorbing odors.

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If you prefer to keep your painting project as simple as possible, there are several remedies you can try to eliminate the stench.

“Charcoal is a popular choice because it absorbs odors,” says Tikaram. “Baking soda is also good at absorbing odors and has abrasive properties that can help remove paint residue.”

And if you want to raid your pantry more, sliced ​​onions are said to work to fight paint odors. Onions release sulfur compounds that bind to paint fumes and neutralize their odor.

Use VOC-free paint

Benjamin Moore Natura paint contains no volatile organic compounds.

(Benjamin Moore/Getty Images)

While these mitigation methods work, the fresh paint smell can still be bothersome to completely get rid of. So if you want to avoid dealing with those nasty toxins in your home, you always have the option of using VOC-free paint.

“If you’re looking for a paint line that doesn’t have that strong smell of new paint, consider trying Benjamin Moore’s Natura line,” says Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improvy Painters Glenview. “Natura does not contain any volatile organic compounds responsible for this odor.”

These paints will be a bit more expensive than typical paint, Kazimierski says. “But it’s worth it if you’re looking to avoid that smell and its effects.”

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