While a fresh coat of paint can leave your home smelling new, clean, and refreshing— spray paint can be a little more problematic.
Spray painting elements of your home is a great way to reduce the amount of time spent decorating.
Whether you’re working with spray paint on small elements of your home such as cabinet handles and doorframes, or larger projects such as a mural wall, you’re going to be troubled by the chemical fumes that are released.
In this article, we will assess the dangers of spray paint and how the fumes can affect your body if breathed in.
We’ll also take a look at ways to rid your home of the smell that spray paint leaves behind, as well as providing a rundown of great preventative measures you can take to avoid pesky lingering fumes in the first place.
Is spray paint toxic?
While there are countless benefits to using spray paint rather than regular paint applied with a brush, such as ease of use and speed of coverage- it does have its downsides.
When you are working with spray paint inside your home, you are directly exposed to hazardous chemicals that are released into the air. Some of these chemicals include VOCs and other harmful substances.
What happens if you breathe in spray paint fumes?
If you’ve been exposed to the fumes released from spray paint in a confined space, you may experience a few side effects. The effects will vary from person to person and will depend on exposure, the amount of spray paint fumes in the environment, and the general health of the person exposed to these fumes.
Short-term health effects of using spray paint can include irritation contact dermatitis, burns to the skin and eyes, vomiting and diarrhea, irritation to the nose, throat, and lungs, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
On the other hand, some possible long-term health effects can include asthma, allergic contact dermatitis, and painter’s syndrome.
Some of the more serious effects of spray paint fume inhalation include lung cancer, brain damage, liver failure, and kidney damage.
How long does spray paint smell take to go away?
Though the smell of spray paint can usually be eliminated within a couple of days, sometimes, it can linger inside the house for weeks. This mostly happens when you don’t keep the room properly ventilated during and after spray painting.
While you can suppress the odor using air-fresheners, scented candles, or essential oils, these methods will simply mask the smell, and will not eliminate the odor.
How to get rid of paint spray smell naturally
While spaces that are particularly affected by spray paint fumes may require professional assistance, most household spray paint fumes can be eliminated using natural solutions which involve products you probably already have at home.
- Baking Soda – This magic powder is used in a whole host of natural cleaning remedies, and comes particularly in handy when trying to remove odors in clothing or your refrigerator. However, it’s also great at absorbing spray paint fumes. Simply pour some baking soda into a few shallow containers and place them all around the room. It will act as a desiccant to absorb spray paint odors and fumes, reducing the risk of breathing in harmful fumes. After you’ve finished painting, consider tipping the baking soda down your garbage disposal to further de-fumigate your space. If the odor still persists, consider sprinkling baking soda on your carpets and leaving overnight. Vacuum away the powder in the morning.
- Onions – As onions themselves have a very strong odor, they can help to mask pesky spray paint fumes. Providing you like the smell of onions, they can be a great way to prevent any toxic fumes from harming your lungs. All you need to do is slice at least two medium onions and place them in small containers all around the space. Be sure to throw out the onions after use. Do not be tempted to eat them or cook with them, as they have absorbed VOCs and could make you unwell.
- Charcoal – While activated charcoal is commonly used today in many household products, including cleaning products and teeth whitening kits, it is also an excellent odor-absorbing ingredient. It’s important to pick up activated charcoal because when it’s activated, it’s more porous which means it can fully absorb the smells and fumes around it. You can purchase activated charcoal in small tubes, pouches, or in a crushed formula that can be poured into bowls and placed around the room in which you are painting. Crushed charcoal usually won’t work as well to eliminate the smell of paint since it doesn’t have the same pockets of oxygen to create space for odor absorption. Typically you can find desiccant bags with activated charcoal at your local fish or pet store, but you can also find them on Amazon. Instead of throwing out the sachets after use, consider popping them into stinky sneakers overnight to make the most of their odor-reducing properties.
- Lemon Water – While water is relatively OK at absorbing VOCs on its own, adding a few slices of fresh lemon can help to circulate a pleasant citrus scent into the air, making your space more tolerable and refreshing. However, this method isn’t quite as fast-working as some of the others, so if you plan on using water to remove paint spray smells from your home, leave it in bowls with lemon in the space overnight.
- Vinegar – If you’re looking for something a little stronger than lemon water, but still want to avoid using harsh chemicals- consider giving vinegar a try. For the best results with this method, we recommend pouring roughly 1 cup of either apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar into multiple small containers. Next, place them around the room in every nook and cranny. The vinegar will absorb the spray paint fumes without adding any toxicity to the air. Once again, dispose of the vinegar after use, and do not be tempted to consume it as it would have absorbed VOCs.
- Coffee Grounds – While the effectiveness of this method is often questioned, many people claim that ground coffee beans do a great job of removing harmful spray paint odors. Providing you like the smell of coffee, this method can leave your home smelling just like a hip high-street coffee shop, rather than a DIY store. Once again, place the coffee grounds in small containers and dot them around the space. Coffee grounds will help to absorb the strong odor of spray paint. Be sure to properly dispose of the coffee grounds after use, as they will not be safe for consumption.
How to prevent spray paint fumes
Rather than trying to get rid of spray paint fumes in your home, it is best to try and prevent them from occurring in the first place.
By addressing possible spray paint fumes before you even begin your painting project, you can reduce the number of fumes left lingering in your space, making the whole process easier.
Here are some ways in which you can prevent spray paint odors from lingering in your home:
- Arguably one of the best ways to keep heavy spray paint fumes at bay is to select a low or zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint formula. Selecting a low VOC will benefit your overall health and reduce the risks associated with paint fumes. If you’ve already purchased an oil-based spray paint, check to see if the label mentions “low odor,” these paints are sometimes made from organic materials such as plants, milk, clay, and other minerals that are less toxic to the environment.
- Another great way to prevent lingering spray paint fumes is by checking the weather forecast before you begin. As silly as this may seem, how humid the atmosphere is will have a huge impact on the amount of paint odor that sticks behind. We recommend avoiding painting on days when the air humidity is high. High humidity will slow down the drying process and paint emits the strongest fumes when it is being applied and waiting to dry. The longer your paint takes to dry, the more likely it is that your soft furnishings will absorb the paint odors.
- You can further reduce the amount of spray paint fumes emitted by allowing each coat of paint to dry completely before applying the next layer. Damp walls and surfaces can often trap fumes and slowly release toxic gases for a long period of time. We recommend ensuring that all of the lids on your paint cans are kept on when not in use.
- Ventilation is a key factor to consider when working with spray paint in order to keep you and others in your home safe from harmful fumes and pesky odors. While painting in one space, keep all and any doors and windows open if possible in order to allow the fumes to dissipate into the air. You want to get as much fresh air into the room as possible in order to dilute the paint fumes. Be sure not to open all of the windows in your home, only the one room you’re painting in, otherwise, you could create a draught that can spread the odors throughout your home.
- Consider investing in an air purification system and a box fan that can be used simultaneously to create a better airflow within your space, getting as much fresh air into the room as possible in order to dilute the paint fumes. Air purifiers or systems remove and neutralize spray paint odors inside your house. They are specifically designed to deal with noxious chemicals, allergens, and odors.
Is it safe to use spray paint in the home?
The administering of spray paint inside of a home can raise a lot of red flags, especially for the indoor air quality and adverse health reactions that an individual may have when present in this indoor environment.
It is recommended if you are going to spray paint inside of your home, that you follow the guidelines and rules above to aid in the mitigation of spray paint fumes and hazards produced from the paint into the air.
If you have the option to, you should always spray paint outdoors where possible. For example, if you plan on only spray painting a few small household components, such as door handles or light fittings, consider taking these out in your yard and spray painting them there instead.
The fumes will be dispersed in the atmosphere leaving no bad smell. If you don’t have a yard, even sitting on your doorstep or on a balcony area can prevent the fumes from lingering in your home.
Also, if you have the choice, we suggest only spray painting in a room where you don’t spend a lot of time in. So, if you don’t have a warm windowsill in a room you can ventilate, the bathroom is a good alternative.
If you’re working with spray paint to pimp out your car and its different components, be sure not to leave them in a parked car or the solvents could dry out.
If you’re able to, we recommend thoroughly ventilating your car before driving it, as some of the side effects of breathing in spray paint fumes could be dangerous when driving.