A week or two ago, I repainted a mirror (about 2.5ftx3ft) with some less-than-stellar quality spray paint. The paint's smell is still hanging around, and I'd really like to get rid of it. What can I use to eliminate the paint odor without damaging the mirror?

I unfortunately can't leave it outside because I live in an apartment, and I'd prefer cheaper, natural options.

  • I just stumbled upon this Q&A. I am wondering if you tried any of these suggestions and if you were indeed able to get rid of the strong paint smell. We had our place remodeled over a month ago, and our kitchen cupboards still smell SO strongly of oil-based paint (...wondering if they even should’ve used that type for a cupboard) that our glasses, mugs, etc, smell and even taste like paint. A month ago, from research elsewhere, I left about a dozen bowls full of salt and lemon water in the cabinets for 3 days, and it only helped some. Then my family and I moved in, and with that chaos, did not – LisaP Dec 2 at 17:23
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The reason for the smell is because of the VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) content in paint.

The best way to avoid breathing in paint fumes is to not have them to begin with. Most indoor and outdoor paints contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds are ingredients in the paint and are responsible for the odors emitted as the paint dries. Low-VOC paint is commonly available. It has less of an odor and is safer for both you and the environment. (Source)

Whether there are low-VOC paints in spray cans I don't know.

There is a cheap and environmentally friendly way to remove the fumes provided by Greenopedia.

Salt, lemon and vinegar all have the power to soak up paint smells pretty quickly. And because you’re absorbing the chemicals instead of pushing them around with a fan, they won’t linger in your air ducts or spread to other parts of the house.

Another idea is using onions, as suggested in the link above. Cut them in half and put the halves around the house or cut them into small pieces into bowls and add some vinegar.

  • Grab some bowls and fill them halfway with water.

  • Add a few slices of lemon and/or a quarter cup of salt to each bowl
    Or instead of lemon & salt, fill a few bowls halfway with vinegar.

  • Place the bowls around the room and let them sit overnight or until the paint smell is gone.

  • Rinse the salt water or vinegar down the sink and discard lemons in the trash or compost.
    Do not eat or drink them.

The reason why you MUST NOT eat them is because they will become toxic. They will contain paint solvents as the salt water, vinegar and lemons will have absorbed them.

  • The salt, lemon, and vinegar method seems perfect, I will try it! – jackwise Apr 27 '17 at 11:48

Some spray paints are much worse than others for this, but all are solvent-based. Gentle warmth will help the solvents evaporate faster, as well as ventilation to disperse the vapour. You've said you can't leave it outside (not even a balcony?) but can you leave it inside a south-facing (assuming northern hemisphere) window that's slightly open? Shut the room door if possible to avoid the fumes getting to the rest of your apartment. Turn off any air conditioning in that room if possible.

If you have a choice I suggest keeping it in a room where you don't spend a lot of time to avoid breathing the fumes too much. So if you don't have a warm windowsill in a room you can ventilate, the bathroom is a good option. It tends to be better ventilated than most rooms in apartments (extractor fan even if everything else is sealed up tight).

I've been known to leave things in a parked car for solvents to dry out -- but you have to ventilate the car really well before driving it in case the fumes affect you. So this is only really an option if you don't drive every day.

As this is a mirror, consider where reflected light/heat is going to end up -- or have the direct sunlight fall on the back.

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