How to Remove the Smell of Paint From a Room

If you're cursed with a sensitive nose, the week following an interior paint job can be a trying experience. New paint gives off gasses for at least that long; the exchange of volatile organic compounds with the atmosphere is part of the curing process. Using low- or zero-VOC paint may diminish the odors, but it won't eliminate them. It's no use trying to cover them up with air freshener, scented candles or essential oils; you're just adding more chemicals to the air. You need something that absorbs odors, and there are many possibilities using common household items.

Young man painting wall with paint roller in house
credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images
Lemons, onions and vinegar all absorb the odor of fresh paint.

Step 1

Open the windows to circulate air in the room. Amplify the air circulation with fans or by turing on the central air system. It is especially important to do this for at least a day immediately after finishing the painting job, because this is when the paint off-gasses the most.

Step 2

Fill several bowls halfway with white vinegar and spread them around the room. Alternatively, fill each bowl with water, dissolve half a cup of salt into the water and add several slices of lemon. These solutions will absorb the paint odors.

Step 3

Absorb even more odors by cutting several onions in half and spreading them around the room. Onions also absorb odors, and although they produce a slight odor of their own, it goes away as soon as you remove them from the room.

Step 4

Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, if the room is carpeted. Leave it overnight and vacuum it up in the morning. Besides absorbing the paint odors, it freshens the carpet.

Chris Deziel

Chris Deziel

Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience, and he is also an avid craftsman and musician. He began writing on home improvement topics in 2010 and worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. He currently contributes a monthly property maintenance blog on A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at