How Long Does Paint Smell Last? – The What, Why, and How of Paint Smell?

Paint smell is a common and most expected thing that appears when you paint something. It can be irritating, tedious, and harmful to our health.

This article will share some interesting thoughts about paint smell, its duration, and removal. Do you know how long does paint smell last?

How Long Does Paint Smell Last? - The What, Why, and How of Paint Smell?

Paint smell can last 14 to 24 weeks in general. But there are more things you should know about the duration of paint smell. Some facts are there which have impacts on it.

In this article, I will discuss some paint smell queries, such as:

  • What is the paint smell?
  • What causes paint fumes?
  • Are paint fumes toxic?
  • How long do paint fumes last?
  • How to get rid of the paint smell?

I think you are putting your attention on paint fumes right now. Let me give clarity to it.

What is the Paint Smell?

When you use the paint on different surfaces, it leaves smells after it dries. The ingredients of paint release odor when they get in touch with air. It starts spreading when you have just painted and may last a couple of months.

Basically, this “paint smell” is alternatively known as “paint fumes.” Paint smell and fume are the same things. Generally, people having the least knowledge about paints may call it to paint smell. It may be light or severe according to the different types of paints.

So, when you inhale the smell of paint, you are actually taking the fumes to the lung. It can harm your health.

What Causes Paint Fumes?

You may know that four major components build the paint. These are:

  • Binders: They help paint to dry quickly after applying on the surface.
  • Pigments: They are the actual color we see in paint.
  • Solvents: They help sticking the binders and pigments to the surface well.
  • Additives: They are added to enhance the durability, and thickness of paint, preventing mildews

Commercial paint manufacturers use different types and levels of additives like VOCs in their paint products. When you apply the paint, this stuff spread on the area. Then, the strong fumes are created and cause health issues after inhaling them.

Are Paint Fumes Toxic?

Are Paint Fumes Toxic?

Well, this is a relevant question, I think. Paint fumes or smells have toxicity depending on the additives it has, such as VOCs.

When the paint smell or fume goes inside the lung, you will face several health issues. Mostly, the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the culprit behind these issues. High level of VOCs in a paint risk more than low or non-VOC paint.

You will get these symptoms when you inhale the paint fumes for a long time:

  • Eye problems like soreness, raw, irritations
  • Breathing complexity, nose jamming and irritation
  • Dry throat, irritation in the throat area
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Visual impairment
  • Loss of coordination
  • Asthma
  • Nausea

Usually, paint smells that last short time has low or no toxicity. Water-based paints have low number of VOCs while offering the least risk of creating the above issues.

If the smell resides for a couple of months, it may invite serious health problems. You may avoid bringing pregnant women, kids, older persons close to the painted area for the harmful smell.

How Long do Paint Fumes Last?

When we start a DIY paint project or even take help from carpenters, we may apply several coats of paint. It improves the longevity, quality, and strength of the color. Painting small things may require less coat of paints. The problem is when we paint indoor spaces, we get more paint smells than outside. It is said that the indoor concentration of VOCs is 10x more than outdoor paintings.

  • How long for paint smell to go away?
  • How long are paint fumes harmful?

These two questions are the same thing as the subheading in a different form.

Most of us know that paints come in a wide range of colors, types, and ingredients. They can be oil-based, water-based. Acrylic and latex are two forms of water-based paints. Alkyd paints are made from oil entities. These paints have different levels of VOCs to make them separate and unique from others.

We can differentiate the paint into three types upon the level of VOCs in a paint:

  • Regular paint
  • Low VOC paint
  • Zero VOC paint

Each of these paints has different longevity of paint fumes or smells. I am happy to share the info about these:

Regular paint:

These paints are mostly affordable but have high levels of VOCs. The ingredients of these paints have VOCs in high volume. It is the reason we get smell for longer periods to emit all the VOCs fully. A regular paint smell can last for a month if there is lack of sufficient ventilation. In extreme cases, the smell of regular paints may take 14-24 weeks for full dissipation. If you want to reduce the duration, try to arrange adequate ventilation to the area for quick dry of paint.

Low VOC Paint:

These paints are engineered to dissipate or go off the smell quickly. Generally, a regular paint may have up to 300g VOCs per 1ltr paint. But low VOC paints have less than 50g VOCs per 1ltr. So, it is quite logical to get the paint fumes for a few days. If you can arrange proper ventilation, this paint smell will go away within just 3-4 days. However, low VOC paints may cost you more money.

Zero VOC Paint:

Everybody seeks paint those have no VOCs or harmful ingredients. Zero VOC paint is the answer for us. Modern technologies have helped to produce such paints containing no VOCs. These paints are produced following unique methods for the safety of user health. If you paint your home with zero VOC paints, you can start living just after the paint dries. These paints have 1¬-2 days drying time. Therefore, zero VOC paints are expensive but helpful to your health.

How to Get Rid of Paint Smell?

There are plenty of ways to quick relief from paint smells. Here are some of them:

Whisk smell faster: You should always keep the windows open after applying paints. But using several fans may whisk the fumes or smells faster. Just keep the fans at the center of the painted room. Once you turn on the fans, they will make the paint dry faster. However, using this method requires the switch-off of the air conditioner.

Baking soda: It helps to absorb the smells from the paint. It is a proven thing in the laundry and refrigerator. Sprinkle some baking soda thoroughly inside the rooms. Then, wait for a couple of hours, and get the odor-free area. But it will require cleaning of baking soda after removing all the paint fumes.

Charcoal: Deactivated charcoal are available in a small size bag or a crushed formula. You can use them as a better smell-absorbent. Again, some experts suggest using activated charcoal that is treated with high heat for making it porous. It can also remove the paint smell. Just place the charcoal in an aluminum baking pan, and the paint smell will go overnight.

Onion: When you cut the onion, you may get a significant odor from it. Sometimes you may find it a bad one, yet it is harmless. So, it can also win over the toxic paint smells. First, you need to slice a minimum of two medium-size onions. Then, keep them on a plate inside the room and wait for paint odor removal.

Vinegar: I am not asking you to bring a bucket of vinegar solution to eliminate the paint fumes. Pour some white vinegar into several bowls and place the bowls in each room. You may also use apple cider vinegar to do this job. Vinegar has acetic acid, which neutralizes odor-creating molecules. Using household vinegar is better than culinary white vinegar.

There are some other but not highly effective ideas to dissipate the paint smell.

Lemon: It offers a clean citrus smell, which may take over the place of paint smell. Slice some lemons and put in in bowls. Then, place the bowls accordingly to clean the paint fumes.

Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds have a unique smell which many of us may like. Besides, they can absorb the fumes of paint well. You may sprinkle the grounds on the floor of each painted room.

Candles: Candle flames burns away the VOCs from the air. But not all types of candles are suitable for paint smell removal. Usually, soy-based or natural beeswax candles are effective in this course.


So, you have learned that paint smells may last up to 14-24 weeks. VOCs are the reasons those cause toxicity. Also, paint toxicity can cause several health issues. If you want to reduce the risks of paint smell, you can try zero or low VOC paints. Again, there are some ways to remove the paint smell faster.

Thank you so much for reading the article on how long does paint smells last. I tried to keep track of everything so that you get everything on the topic. I hope it will bring some good moments into your life.

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