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How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell

How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell

Spray Paints emit a distinct chemical smell from the fumes released during application. The extent of the smell depends on the type of paint used & the number of volatile compounds in the paint. Oil Based paint generally gives off more paint smell than water-based paint due to its high VOC content.

The recommended method of removing spray paint smell is by creating an open ventilation environment where air can pass freely. You can do this via windows & doors for indoor surfaces.

In the case of movable surfaces, it’s best to bring them outside for paint application & drying.

Machines like purifiers/ ionizers provide additional support to clean the air around the painted surface. You can also use various DIY methods to create absorbent or acidic solutions that either cut or absorb the paint smell.

As these solutions are not direct application products, the type of painted surface is not relevant. Use these methods wherever you notice the spray paint smell.

For fabrics, however, the best solution is a repeated cycle of washing boosted with proper detergent and odor removers.

Why do Spray Paint Smell

In simple layman terms, it’s the chemical fumes of the spray paint that smells. Most types of paint will have certain chemicals that maintain the paint’s integrity.

Once the paint has been applied, these compound starts to evaporate from the paint in the mode of fumes. These fumes with volatile organic compounds cause that distinct spray paint smell.

Are Spray Paint Fumes Dangerous

  • These fumes are extremely dangerous to the respiratory system because they contain acetone, xylene, and toluene.
  • These chemicals can create a spectrum of problems, from simple skin irritation to organ damage with long-term exposure. 
  • For pregnant women, paint fumes have been known to create congenital anomalies chances of leukemia for the child.
  • Exposure to these volatile compounds can cause allergies, eczema, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
  • Respiratory masks are a minimum requirement when spray painting.

How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell

We recommend Air circulation or open ventilation as the most important step to follow. The paint smell generally starts to decrease after the first 24 hours. It might take weeks for the smell to completely disappear from indoor rooms. You might not even notice the smell in outdoor areas after 2-3 days.

An exact time frame is not possible as the extent of spray paint smell will differ with the type of paint used, area of surface painted, number of air ventilation sources, etc.

You can, however, speed up the smell elimination procedure with additional materials and steps. Check out the alternatives and try combinations to see what works best for you. you can, however, speed up the smell elimination procedure with additional materials and steps.

Check out the alternatives and try combinations to see what works best for you. These options are applicable for indoor areas with or without ventilation, wood & metal surfaces.

Open Ventilation is Key

You might have already done this, and you get it, but open ventilation is the only way fresh air will enter the property or room. Constant airflow is the best mediation for spray paint fumes and smell. It might take a few days or weeks, but this should be a top priority.

  • If it is impossible to move the painted surfaces, e.g., walls or big furniture, the only solution is to open windows & doors to create airflow. Use electric fans for circulation if needed.
  • If the painted surfaces are movable, take it outside to dry.
  • If you are spray painting in a windowless area, we recommend buying some rigid vent tubing attaching it to the nearest window and running a duct-mounted exhaust to draw in the air and release it via the tube. If this is not possible, use a purifier/ ionizer once the painting is done.
  • Remember to wear respirator masks during application.
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Use Air Purifiers/ Air Ionizers to Remove Odor

Both Air purifiers and air ionizers are excellent for air pollution cleanse and paint odor removal. We recommend investing in at least one of these machines for your house. These machines will help remove the paint smell for now and protect your respiratory systems in the future.

Any of these machines will do, just pop them in the room and let it run for 4-5 hours. We recommend vacuuming up the area once done if you use an ionizer. Do multiple sessions. The smell will slowly go away.

Remember, these machines only need to be near the painted surface to tackle the fumes. It doesn’t matter if the painted surface is the wall, furniture, railings, cabinets, etc. If it releases fumes, these machines will get the job done.air purifier filter

What is the difference between them

Air purifiers have different filters in them to filter polluted air. The most common filter used nowadays is the HEPA or Activated Carbon filter. You can get purifiers with one of these filters or combined systems. These will work for air pollutants as well as odor particles.

Ionizers send negative ions into the space with the help of electricity. These ions attach themselves to pollutants and bond themselves to them. The contaminants, odor particles, and VOC particles become heavy and cannot float in the air and fall to the ground, which you can vacuum up.

You can also get machines with both filtration and ionization features.

Use Acidic or Absorbent Material to Trap Odor

You can either use absorbent materials like baking soda, charcoal, ground coffee, diatomaceous earth to trap the odors or use acidic materials like lemon, vinegar, onions to cut the fume smell.

Substances like onions react chemically with fumes chemicals to create a dipolar reaction, neutralizing the odor. Remember, you are not applying these products on the surface, just keeping them in their vicinity.

Get Some Baking Soda Powder

Baking Soda is the best natural odor eliminator that absorbs any odor inside our home. We recommend pouring some baking soda in multiple containers. Leave the containers in the area that was spray-painted overnight. Those areas can be rooms, furniture, metal surfaces, etc. It doesn’t matter. The soda needs to be in proximity to the painted surface.

Throw away the powder once the odor is gone. If you have carpets inside the room, we recommend sprinkling baking soda powder on them and leaving them overnight. It will slowly remove the odor and freshen up the carpet as well. You hit two birds with one stone.

Obtain Some White or Apple Cider Vinegar

Most of the households have white vinegar. Pour vinegar and water in multiple bowls and leave it in the spray-painted area overnight. If you do not have white household vinegar, apple cider vinegar is also acceptable.

Vinegar attacks the odor particles and neutralizes them by breaking them down and dissolving them due to its acidic nature.

Mix Lemon Slices with Water

Get multiple bowls and fill them with water. Cut lemon slices and pop them in the bowl with salt. We recommend one lemon per bowl if possible. Leave the bowls in the affected area overnight. Lemon is a natural deodorizer.

Diatomaceous Earth to Absorb Odor

This product will most likely not be found in the household but easily found in local hardware shops. The material is absorbent and porous. The material will absorb any odors, including spray paint odor, into its porous structure. 

Get a container of these substances, open it up and pour it in multiple bowls. Leave the material in the affected room overnight. Get food-grade diatomaceous earth.

Activated Charcoal to Trap Odor

Activated charcoal has pores and can catch the paint odors in its micro pockets. You can use normal charcoal too, but activated ones are more effective in filtering. The application process is the same as the above materials. Pour on multiple bowls and leave it overnight.

You can find activated charcoal in pellets, powder, or desiccant bags. Check a fish pet store; it is used in aquariums.

Onion Slices for A Dipolar Reaction

Cut multiple onions and place them all over the affected area in plates. Leave the slices overnight. Throw them after use and try a fresh batch once again. This method sounds a bit farfetched but, it is true. The chemicals that make you cry while cutting onions react with the paint fumes overlaying each other and reducing the odor threshold.

Coffee Grounds

Another material to leave in the room is coffee grounds. Same application as baking soda or charcoal, pour some in multiple bowls and leave them across the room overnight. Throw the grounds and repeat.

Use Incense Candles/Fresheners/ Odor Eliminators 

Incense candles and air fresheners are great ways to temporarily mask the smell of the affected rooms. There are also plenty of commercial odor eliminators in the market that you can use.

We recommend getting ones with industrial-strength in an aerosol can form. Use natural oil extracts or burn some sage to mask the smell for other temporary solutions.

How to Get Rid of Spray Paint Smell from Fabric

  • We highly recommend using commercial odor removers for fabrics or clothes. There are plenty of brands in the market like Tide, Fresh wave, etc., who sell laundry boosters odor removers with enzyme cleaning technology.
  • For a homemade solution, we recommend soaking the smell-infested cloth in a solution of baking soda with water or distilled white vinegar with water. Mix 1 cup baking soda per 4 parts water and soak the clothing in the solution for 3-4 hours. Once the soaking is done, run your normal machine cycle.
  • If you have distilled vinegar, mix 1 cup vinegar in the bucket, let the fabric soak for an hour, and run the clean cycle in the machine. Be extra careful with vinegar as it is acidic and might ruin the dye of some fabrics.
  • Repeat these processes as necessary till the odor is completely gone.

How to Minimize Spray Paint Smell Before Application

For jobs that use a spray machine, you can add commercial additives to the paint to minimize the odor. These products are easily found online or at local paint/ hardware shops. You usually get to buy it in gallons.

Most of these products have some form of natural extracts that help mask the fumes’ pungent odor. Some popular brands that sell these additives are Zorobox, Kabosh, Paint Scentsation, Walla Walla, +scent, etc. 

Do check the compatibility of the additives with the type of paint before buying. They are differentiated according to the base solvent.

If you are using spray paint cans, those cannot be meddled with as the cans are pressurized.

How to Minimize Spray Paint Smell in the Future

  • The amount of spray paint smell directly correlates with the amount of volatile organic compounds used in the paint. A high level of these compounds will create a stronger smell. The best way to minimize the smell is by choosing low VOC paints in the first place. Try getting paints will low volatile compounds.
  • Generally, water-based paint will have fewer volatile compounds than oil-based ones. If you are painting whole indoor walls, maybe opt for water-based paint. You can use oil-based ones from smaller isolated areas. There are also new brands of paint that advertise low Volatile organic compounds or even zero VOC paints. Try checking out these alternatives and adjust where possible.
  •  You can generally input the paint from buckets if you use a sprayer machine. You can add odor removal additives to these paint buckets and mix them with the paint before application. These additives can be easily found at your local paint shop and make a huge difference in the smell department.
  • Moisture and humidity will also factor in how long the smell lingers. A higher humidity level means the paint’s dry time will prolong, which causes the smell to extend for that time. Always check humidity levels before painting. The ideal level is 40-50% for painting. Anything above that prolong dry time. If the humidity level is above 85%, do not paint at all.
  • The paint smell will start to dissipate once the paint dries off completely, but if there is moisture, mold on walls, or plumbing leakages, the damp surface will not let the paint dry easily, and the fumes get trapped for a long period. So, any moisture problems identified should be dealt with first before painting.
  • Use fans, open windows, and doors to create air circulation during painting. Do not turn the fan in the direction of the painted area when the paint is wet. The fan can send dirt impurities to the wet paint. You can use the fan on the painted area once the paint has dried off. Create an air channel for the fumes to get out of the room through the doors or windows.
  • If you are painting furniture, dressers, bed frames, or anything else that may be moved, we recommend painting the object outside and letting it dry outside if possible.