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Tom’s Guide
Tom’s Guide
Cynthia Lawrence

7 quick ways to remove paint odors when decorating — tips from an interiors expert

Tins of paint.

If your home looks dated or in need of a makeover, a fresh coat of paint can instantly transform a room. And whether you’re learning how to paint a room like a pro, or calling in the decorators, you’ll probably want to know how to get rid of paint odors during the job. 

Paint fumes can be unpleasant, and can linger for days, depending on the type of paint used. In addition, if exposed to paint fumes for a long period of time, this can trigger potential or existing respiratory problems, or allergic reactions. And while the best option is to always open windows or doors, it can be problematic when you have limited windows or lack adequate ventilation. 

Luckily, there are some quick ways to remove paint odors when decorating, to make it less powerful. These include natural products that are known to absorb lingering smells in the air — eliminating paint odors. 

So if you want to enjoy your newly-painted room without the fumes,  try one of these quick ways to remove paint odors when decorating, according to an interiors expert.

1. Choose paint with a low VOC 

Paint brush in paint tin (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When choosing the best paint for your interior finish, it’s always advisable to use paint with low or zero VOCs. If you have to use an oil-based paint or primer, opt for a low-odor type.  

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, paints with high VOC emit more toxic fumes into the surrounding environment,” says Joshua Houston, Paint Expert at Household Quotes. “These are harmful if inhaled, especially for children, pets and those with breathing conditions such as asthma.” 

“Low VOC paints not only ensure healthier living conditions but are also more eco-friendly, reducing your carbon footprint. They are a similar price to standard paint, so don’t let the thought of it breaking your bank put you off.”

Another useful tip is to not paint on a humid day. High humidity will slow down the drying process, and paint releases the strongest odor when being applied and waiting to dry. 

2. Baking soda 

A spoonful of baking soda next to a spilled jar and a cork lid (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When it comes to home cleaning hacks, baking soda is a go-to ingredient, and is found in most kitchen cupboards. Not only is baking soda good at cleaning, but is a natural deodorizer — quickly absorbing bad smells.  

“Baking soda is something that is found in most household cupboards, but what many don’t know is that it’s an excellent absorber of smells. Pour the soda onto several different plates, and then place them around the room that has been painted. Leave it for 24 hours, then dispose of the baking soda appropriately. You should begin to notice a fresher, more neutral smell.”

If you want more tips on the powers of baking soda, check out 10 things you didn't know you could clean with baking soda. As long as you take note of 7 things you should never clean with baking soda, to prevent damage.  

3. Activated charcoal 

Charcoal in a coconut shell (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, charcoal is another great, natural absorber of bad smells, and can work well to get rid of paint fumes in your home. Activated charcoal can be bought in small pouches or a crushed formula placed in bowls around the room like this Charcoal Odor Absorber for Strong Odor ($17, Amazon), or even inside smelly footwear!

“Charcoal is very affordable. Place plates of charcoal around the painted room, before leaving it overnight to work its magic.”

4. Leave out bowls of lemon water 

a photo of some lemon water (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Besides being a refreshing drink, adding a few slices of lemon to a jug of water can absorb VOCs — and leave it smelling fresh. Although water is enough to absorb odors alone, the lemons will give the air a citrus scent. 

Just bear in mind that water takes a bit longer to work, so it’s advisable to leave the bowls of lemon water in the room overnight.

If you do enjoy the zesty, citrus fragrance around the home, here are 9 things you didn’t know you could clean with a lemon.

5. Scented candles or essential oils 

Three scented candles burning indoors (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another quick way to remove paint odors is to burn scented candles to fragrance the air. There are non-toxic candles available, made from essential oils or natural soybean wax like this Fresh Linen Odor Eliminating Highly Fragranced Candle ($14, Amazon), to get rid of fumes. 

“Another solution is using candles to overpower the foul odour. Light a few candles around the room, and allow it to get to work. Make sure to check the candles regularly to avoid the risk of a fire.”

Be sure to always place candles in a safe place, on a flat, even surface, and away from the reach of children or pets. 

If you didn’t want to light candles however, or lacked the space to place them safely, you could simply squeeze a few drops of essential oils onto cotton balls, and put them in small bowls or saucers around the room. 

6. Air purifier  

Clorox Large Room True HEPA Air Purifier on a bedroom floor (Image credit: Clorox)

Of course, if you want to guarantee clean, odor-free air at all times, invest in one of the best air purifiers to remove and filter VOC fumes. 

“You can switch them on as soon as you begin painting — this will minimise the amount of paint fumes leftover once your paint job is completed. They can cost under $150, so are a very affordable piece of machinery for the average person.

Plus, if you want to get the most out of your machine, follow these 7 ways to get more out of your air purifier, and the reasons why you need one in your home.  

7. Switch on your electric fan 

Smart plug and fan (Image credit: Amazon)

If you don’t have enough ventilation, or an air purifier, a quick way to remove paint odors is using an electric fan. If you point this towards an open window or door, this will help get paint fumes out of your home. 

“If you’ve had your windows and doors open for a few days for ventilation, but that paint odour is still there, then add something to encourage movement. An electric fan is an excellent way to get paint fumes out of your home. Place the fan in a position where it is aimed towards a window or door, then switch it on. This should push any leftover odour that is refusing to budge.”

Depending on your needs, electric fans are reliable and affordable like this Amazon Basics 16-Inch Pedestal Floor Fan ($40, Amazon), that comes with a timer, remote control and convenient, whisper-quiet operation.  

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