How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell


Last updated: June 7, 2023

Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell Using the Tips and Hacks Discussed in this Guide.

How to get rid of spray paint smell

Whether it’s interior paint, oil-based paint, or emulsions – every spray paint contains a certain amount of VOCs that cause irritating fumes.

Besides posing a risk to your overall health, this smell can stop you from enjoying your newly painted room or furniture right away. And sometimes, it can take several days or even weeks before it dissipates. 

If you’re stuck with a lingering spray paint smell, there’s no need to panic. Getting rid of it is easy and can be done with items already available in your home.

In this article, we will look at different ways to remove paint smell fast so you can breathe a sigh of relief and start enjoying your newly painted project. 

How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell

Pour white vinegar into a few cups and place them in every corner of the room. Or fill dishes with baking soda and place them around the room. Other options include ground coffee, lemon water, sliced onions, charcoal, diatomaceous earth, indoor plants, and air purifiers. 

Why does spray paint smell?

The major cause of spray paint smell is the chemicals present in the paint. These chemicals are called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and are hazardous carbon compounds that evaporate at room temperature.

VOCs are released into the atmosphere as you press and release the spray tip/nozzle. They continue to be emitted as the paint hardens. This process is often called “off-gassing.”

It is worth mentioning that the intensity of the spray paint smell directly correlates with the quantity of VOCs in the paint. So, a stronger paint odor means there’s a high concentration of VOC in the paint.

One way to minimize the smell from spray paint fumes is to invest in products with low VOC levels or use non-VOC paint where applicable. This makes them much safer to use, even inside the house. Some cans may have a “Green Seal” logo, which indicates that the paint is environmentally friendly.

Another way to reduce spray paint smell, even when working with high-VOC paint, is to work in a well-ventilated space.

What are the chemicals used in spray paints?

There’s more to spray paints than what meets the eye. It’s not just the color that makes up the paint; there are also many chemicals in the composition.

Depending on the brand and paint type, the list usually consists of volatile organic compounds such as acetone, toluene, xylene, ethyl acetate, phenol, benzene, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, and so on. As you can see, these chemicals are toxic and can cause several health problems for humans and pets. They are also not great for the environment.

The quantity of VOCs differs with each type of paint and brand. Choose low-VOC paint if you want to reduce the odor and off-gassing after drying. Oil-based spray paints generally contain more VOCs than water-based options, but you may still find some “low scent” brands.

Whether you choose low-VOC or high-VOC paint, ensure you take proper precautions to deal with the fumes.

Are these chemicals toxic when inhaled?

Yes, they are! The chemicals (VOCs) in these paints can suffocate the brain when inhaled in large amounts and lead to several health problems.

Short-term side effects include dizziness, headache, skin burns, nausea, nose, eyes, or throat irritation, fatigue, difficulty breathing, lack of coordination, and so on. These systems usually go away when you start breathing some fresh air again.

There are also long-term effects that may arise as a result of prolonged exposure to the paint fumes. These include asthma, lung cancer, brain damage, liver failure, kidney damage, and other serious health issues.

The impact of the spray fumes will depend on the individual’s health, how much fumes are released into the area, and how long the person is exposed to the fumes.

Generally, you can prevent these diseases by limiting your exposure to paint fumes or using products that have fewer VOCs.

How to reduce spray paint smell before painting?

There are two main ways to reduce spray paint smell before painting.

1. Opt for low-VOC spray paint.

As the name suggests, low-VOC paints have low paint fumes, which makes them better for your overall health. Generally, the quantity of VOCs in spray paint correlates with how much it smells. So, a high VOC paint will have a stronger smell, while a low VOC paint will have a “low scent.” Low-VOC colors are also better for the environment.

The aerosol cans usually have terms like “low scent” or “low-VOC” written on the label.

2. Ensure proper ventilation

Ensure there’s good ventilation in the space where you’re painting. Good airflow helps to diffuse the paint fumes and ensures the paint dries faster.

It’s best to paint outside the house where there’s a natural breeze. However, if you can’t, you can stay indoors but ensure

there’s adequate ventilation in the room. Keep the door and windows open to allow fresh air in.

Before painting outside, check the weather forecast and avoid painting on windy days.

How to get rid of spray paint smell

You can get rid of spray paint smell using the following items:

1. Coffee Grounds

If you’re a fan of coffee smell, then the idea of using coffee grounds to remove paint smell should sound exciting. Coffee grounds are nitrogen-rich, which means they can help to neutralize and absorb bad odors. 

How to get rid of spray paint smell

Simply put coffee grounds or beans in containers and place them around the room or near the area where you painted. This is very much like placing bowls of water in different corners of the room. Let it sit overnight or until you no longer perceive the paint smell. In most cases, this will take 24 hours, but it may take longer, depending on the paint. 

Make sure to switch off any fan in the room during this time, or else the fan will blow the coffee grounds away from the bowls or containers to other areas in the room and create a mess.

When you’re done, dispose of the coffee grounds. Do not use them for any other purpose.

As earlier indicated, this method will leave your room smelling like a coffee shop after removing the spray paint smell. So make sure you’re cool with this before proceeding.

2. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a common ingredient in many household products, including teeth whiteners and cleaning agents. It can also be used to absorb odors. 

Just buy small bags or canisters of activated charcoal and put them in a bucket or bowl, and place them in the middle of the room. You can also buy the powder version, then dissolve it in water and pour into cups. Place the cups at various points in the room. Leave the bowl or cups overnight.

You can use the charcoal bags until they no longer absorb the paint odors. 

Remember to use activated charcoal, not crushed or powdered charcoal. Crushed charcoal is less porous than activated charcoal and won’t absorb the paint smell as well as activated charcoal.

3. Baking Soda

If you find activated to be expensive, you can opt for baking soda. Besides costing less, it is more accessible and readily available. 

Baking soda is commonly used in numerous cleaning products as well as toothpaste. It is also known to absorb bad odors such as the smell of rotten fruit smell and the smell of spray paint fumes. The good thing is that it can be used on all kinds of surfaces including furniture, fabric, and even inside your refrigerator. 

You can either fill small dishes or containers with baking soda and spread them in the room, especially near the painted area. Or you can sprinkle the powder on clothes or carpets to get rid of the paint smell. Leave it overnight, then vacuum it.

4. Use Lemon Water

Water, ordinarily, is relatively effective at absorbing the chemicals in paint fumes. But you can add a few slices of lemon to create a delightful flow of clean citrus scent that refreshes your room. 

Just leave a few bowls of the “lemon water” (i.e., water with slices of lemon) around the room. You can place the bowls while painting or place them when you’re done and leave them overnight. Use more bowls if the room is large. 

The water will help absorb some of the VOCs in the paint, causing the smell, while the lemon will fill the entire room with a fresh aura. As earlier indicated, leave the bowls overnight for the best results.

5. Vinegar

Another item you could use to remove spray paint smell is vinegar solution. This method is more effective than lemon water, but it will leave your room smelling of vinegar. 

There are two ways to approach this. You can use vinegar alone. Just pour one cup of the solution into several small containers. Then place the containers in every corner of the room. 

Alternatively, you can water down the vinegar by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water. Set the bowls of vinegar around the room and leave it for some time. 

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps to neutralize the odor-causing molecules in the paint fumes. Use either apple cider or white vinegar (it should contain 10 percent acetic acid or more). 

You can follow up with lemon water or baking soda to take care of the smell left in the room after using vinegar. 

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Do you know that diatomaceous earth; yes, that chalky white powder; is also a good odor absorber? Also regarded as fossilized plankton, the powder is laden with silica, which is responsible for its odor-absorbing properties. It also absorbs moisture. 

The powder can easily be applied to spray paint smell. Simply pour it into disposable containers such as coffee cans, paper bowls, aluminum baking pans, or other disposable cans. Then place it around the room.

Choose food-grade diatomaceous earth; it’s safe to use and doesn’t irritate the lungs or harm pets like conventional diatomaceous earth. You can get it online or at your local hardware store.  

7. Natural Extracts

You can also eliminate spray paint odor using natural extracts like peppermint and vanilla. This method is highly recommended if you’re a fan of vanilla smell or mint.

Put a few drops of vanilla or peppermint extract on cotton balls and put them in bowls. Scatter the bowls around the room. This will help remove the spray paint fumes while refreshing the air in the room.

You can combine this method with something more robust, like vinegar, for the best results. If you’re using a sprayer, you can add the extracts directly to the paint to reduce the paint odor. Just add one or two drops.   

8. Onions

The strong smell of onions is actually what makes it effective in masking spray paint odor. Just slice two medium onions into small containers and place them around the room. The larger the onions, the better. However, the goal is to remove the spray paint smell, not to turn the room into an onions shop, so stick to one to two medium- or large-sized onions. 

After using the onions, discard them. Don’t eat or cook with them. You will be ingesting VOCs if you do that! 

How to get rid of spray paint smell fast

On its own, spray paint odor can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days to dissipate. It may take longer if you live in an area with snow, rain, or cold weather. In general, the weather condition and the amount of ventilation in the space will determine how long spray paint fumes takes to dissipate.

However, there are a few things you can do to neutralize the smell faster.

Paint In A Well-ventilated Area

This is the number one thing you should do if you want to get rid of spray paint smell first. Painting in an area with good ventilation ensures the fumes are dispersed faster.

It’s best to paint in an open space, such as your backyard, where there’s a lot of fresh air.

If you’re painting indoors, open the windows and doors to keep air flowing into the room.

In addition, consider getting a few box fans and place them in the middle of the room, facing the open windows or doors. This will help whisk the paint odor out of the room faster. If you’re spraying outdoors, consider using spray painting booths instead.

Invest In Indoor Plants

If you love spray painting indoors, consider investing in indoor plants. These plants can serve as air purifiers and have the ability to absorb the VOCs in spray paint fast and improve indoor air quality.

Examples of such plants include Dracaena, Peace Lilies, Golden Pothos, and Spider Plant.

Some of these plants can be harmful to pets and may require a lot of care. So, we strongly advise doing your own research before putting out your money for any plant.

Use an Air Purifier

As the name suggests, air purifiers help to purify the air. They remove allergens, pollutants, and toxins while promoting better airflow in the room.

Using an air purifier is one of the best ways to neutralize spray paint fumes and sanitize your space. However, it is not the cheapest option. Opt for air purifiers with HEPA filters. The filter is more effective for removing smaller particles such as VOCs.

How to get rid of spray paint smell on wood

One of the simplest ways to remove spray paint smell on wood is by using vinegar. The process is pretty straightforward.

Step 1: Soak a clean rag in a bowl containing vinegar solution. The vinegar solution is prepared by mixing one part vinegar with two parts water. Use the soaked rag on the wooden piece. Before carrying out this step, ensure there’s no wet paint on the furniture. It should be fully dry!

Step 2: Once you’re done, don’t allow the vinegar solution to sit for long. Rinse it off immediately with water, then let the item dry.

Step 3: To speed up spray paint drying, use a fan. Please turn on the fan and point it towards the wood. You can go over the steps again if the smell still lingers.

Alternatively, you can leave the furniture in the sun to dry or until the smell vanishes completely.

How to get rid of spray paint smell on plastic

For previously painted plastic that still smells of spray paint, you can eliminate the odor by using vinegar. Just like it does on wood, vinegar helps to absorb the toxic fumes in the paint and the strong odor. The process is pretty much the same as the steps described for wood.

We recommend using white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Ensure you water it down to reduce the acidity; otherwise, it may damage the plastic surface. You may need to repeat the process several times until the smell disappears.

To get rid of spills on the plastic (if any), use isopropyl or rubbing alcohol instead of harsh paint thinners.

How to get rid of spray paint smell on metal

To get rid of spray paint smell on metal, you can use any of the items mentioned above. These include activated charcoal, lemon water, coffee grounds, onions, etc. Simply place the item near the metal object.

Alternatively, you can apply a small amount of vinegar solution on the topcoat as we did for wood and plastic. Make sure the paint is fully dry before applying the solution.

Using a low-VOC or zero-VOC is also a good way to prevent strong chemical fumes when painting metal. Opt for products (paint) specifically designed for metal or the material in question. Such paints tend to dry faster than those made for general use.

How to get rid of spray paint smell on fabric

Normal laundry detergent isn’t usually enough to get rid of the spray paint smell on fabric. It may remove the smell slightly, but you will still notice it. To completely get rid of the odor, you can try any of these two things:

Air-dry the clothes

To remove spray paint odor from your clothes, simply hang them outside. This might sound simple, but it does work. The fresh air helps dissipate the paint fumes, thereby removing the odor from the cloth. If you’re not able to hang the cloth outside, you can spread it near an open door or window. Placing a fan near the fabric can also speed up things.

Use baking soda

Try spreading baking soda powder on the cloth and leaving it overnight. If this doesn’t work, then wash the fabric using baking soda, vinegar, or borax.

Add half a cup of baking soda or vinegar to a bucket of warm water. Soak the cloth in the solution and leave it until the smell disappears. Then you can wash the cloth normally.

If you’re using borax, follow the instructions on the box.

After washing, hang the cloth outside in a sunny spot to dry.

How to get rid of spray paint smell on cardboard

Cardboard is a porous material, so paint usually dries faster on it than on other materials. In most cases, the paint will dry in 15 minutes. Sometimes, it doesn’t take that long if there’s good ventilation in the area.

So, the best way to get rid of the spray paint smell on the card is to let it sit in a well-ventilated area after painting. You could also try placing any of the items mentioned above near the cardboard. These include activated charcoal, vinegar, coffee grounds, and lemon water.

The steps are pretty much the same. Put the item in a bowl and place it near the cardboard.

How to get rid of spray paint smell in house

To get rid of spray paint smell in your home, you can use any of the following items:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Activated charcoal
  • Onions
  • Lemon water
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Natural extracts
  • Coffee grounds

Simply put them in containers and place them in strategic locations across the room.

Other options include using indoor plants, air purifiers, boxed fans, and ensuring adequate ventilation. 

X reminders to safely spray paint objects

  • Keep the aerosol can on the project and away from you. Wear proper clothing and gear to protect your eyes, skin, and lungs. These include gloves, safety goggles, and a respiratory mask. 

  • Always wash your hands after each project. Don’t eat with them to avoid ingesting harmful chemicals.

  • Make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated. Ideally, you want to spray outside whenever possible. Always do a rain check before commencing your project; you don’t want to paint on a windy day. 

  • If you’re using spray paint indoors, open the door and windows to allow enough fresh air into the room. Use a fan and air purifier to reduce the fumes.

  • When possible, opt for low-VOC paints. These paints have fewer VOCs and are safer for your general well-being. 

  • Don’t spray near a heat source. Always maintain a safe distance from sparks and open flames. Do not smoke, as spray paints are highly combustible. Also, avoid leaving the cans in direct sunlight for a long time. 

  • When you empty the content in the aerosol can, leave it whole. Don’t attempt to burn, incinerate or puncture it. Likewise, don’t discard it in a trash compactor; instead, recycle it.  

FAQs – How to get rid of spray paint smell

Are spray paint chemicals toxic to the human body?

Yes, they are. As earlier indicated, spray paints contain VOCs that can be harmful to the human body when ingested. Inhaling the fumes can cause several side effects, such as headache, dizziness, eye and nose irritation, etc. Likewise, allowing the paint to get on your skin can cause skin irritation or burns.

What can prevent the smell of spray paint?

It may not be possible to completely avoid spray paint smells when you’re using spray paint, but you can drastically reduce the odor. Spraying outdoors, where there’s adequate ventilation, and using low-VOC or zero-VOC paint can prevent excessive spray paint fumes.

Are there alternatives to odorous spray paints?

Yes, there are. If you don’t want to use spray paint with strong fumes, you can opt for one with low or zero VOCs. These are healthy alternatives to high-VOC paints and are less toxic. They are commonly made from organic materials such as plants, clay, milk, minerals, etc. There are also many low-odor paints or primers that are oil-based.

Which type of spray paints are odorless and where to buy them?

There’s no such thing as “odorless” spray paint. However, there are many low-odor paints with low VOCs or zero VOCs. These are perfect for indoor use or areas that don’t have plenty of ventilation. It is worth mentioning that even in zero-VOC spray paints, they are still traces of VOCs; however, they’re in minute quantities (less than 5g), while in regular spray paints, VOCs are usually over 50g. You can purchase these paints online or in your local home improvement store.

What neutralizes the smell of paint?

Air purifiers are very efficient when it comes to neutralizing the smell of spray paint inside a room. They filter both the fumes and chemicals. You can also use substances like coffee grounds, activated charcoal, diatomaceous earth, lime water, white vinegar, and baking soda. These items help to trap the paint odor, but they don’t eliminate the toxins

How To Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell – Content Summary

To conclude, you can remove the spray paint smell using natural deodorizers such as vinegar, baking soda, coffee grounds, activated charcoal, lime water, etc.

These items are not only effective but also safer and inexpensive. They are readily available and are particularly recommended if you are sensitive to spray paint smell or painting in a room that doesn’t have adequate ventilation.

Choose any method that suits your situation and convenience. If possible, opt for low-VOC or zero-VOC paint to prevent excessive paint odor. Also, ensure there’s good ventilation in the area where you’re working.

Let us know if you have any more questions about getting rid of spray paint smell. Until then, happy spraying!

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