Use an onion to neutralize paint fumes

I am very sensitive to fumes, even if they are relatively harmless. Hubby and I have been painting our living room these past few days and for some reason the odors have been bothering me more than usual. We’re just using standard latex paint, which isn’t overly toxic, but those smells sure do build up! I think the fact that we were painting various surfaces (walls, ceiling) simultaneously and covering a lot of area really exacerbated the problem. If low VOC paint were more affordable and readily available in my area, I would definitely use that instead.

It got to the point where I really didn’t want to be in the room anymore, but there was still work to be done. We don’t waste money on painter’s tape and hubby doesn’t like doing edges, so that delicate task was up to me.

I searched around for ideas to tone down the paint odor and finally settled on a solution that I saw repeatedly on various websites: the lowly onion.

I cut a large onion in two, peeled it, and placed each half cut side down in a saucer of water. I believe the water keeps the onion “alive” so it can do its odor-fighting thing.

Yes, you would think that an onion would make the problem worse, but it actually works! I had two large onion halves in an approximately 255 s.f. room. After an hour or so the paint odors were toned down dramatically, and I could tolerate being in the room to do all of the trim work. This morning, the paint odors are not that noticeable at all. The room doesn’t smell too “onion-y” either (but if it did, that’s a much easier odor to deal with than chemical paint smell).

I don’t know about the science behind this, but it really did seem to make a noticeable difference in our room. Of course, using an onion or any other method to tone down the paint smell is no substitute for important safety measures like adequate ventilation and air movement, but it may make your work a little bit easier if that paint smell makes you gag.

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