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Do Onions Absorb Paint Fumes?

Do Onions Absorb Paint Fumes?

The worst thing about repainting a house or even a small area is the fumes.

Apart from the unbearable smell, paint fumes are also toxic to physical health. Also, these fumes linger days after the paint job is complete because they evaporate from the paint surface as it is drying.

In the short term, paint fumes may cause headaches, dizziness, breathing issues, and eye watering. Many people also experience irritation in the lungs and throat.

If you are exposed to paint fumes frequently, you might want to use protective gear while painting to save yourself from respiratory illnesses.

A tried and true method for absorbing paint fumes is using an onion sliced in half, as it contains chemicals that neutralize the smell. Place each half on opposite ends of the room as you’re painting, with the cut side up.

However, if you are painting a large room, you may require more onions.

However, make sure that you keep children and pets away from the room so they don’t end up ingesting the onion halves accidentally!

Here are some tips to get you prepared for absorbing fumes in your next paint job.

Tips For Using Onions To Absorb Paint Fumes

While onions do absorb paint fumes, this trick only works when it is done right. If you are working with a room larger than a master bedroom or a small living room, start with one onion and add more as required.

However, you can often decrease the bad paint smell with just one onion.

If you don’t feel a difference after one hour, make sure you add a couple more onions to get the job done quicker.

Another useful tip is to chop the onions into small pieces and put them in the room before you begin painting to get rid of the smell and fumes from the start.

You can use onions coupled with vinegar to get rid of paint fumes quicker. Make sure you place the onion pieces on opposite ends of the room.

Place small containers or plates with vinegar (white natural vinegar does wonders) around the room where you can’t knock it over.

After you are done, throw the onion in a compost bin.

Don’t make the mistake of using these onions because the chemical in it has absorbed the paint fumes, making it toxic for consumption.

Other Solutions to Absorbing Paint Fumes

If you don’t want your house to smell like vinegar and onions for the days after a paint job – even if that smell is preferable to the smell of paint – you can always revert to other tried and true methods to get rid of the paint smell.

Scented Candles

Scented candles come in many aromas.

Many of these are made from synthetic materials which might fill up your room with chemicals that are harmful.

However, you can use natural scented candles which can help you get rid of paint fumes without leaving any harmful chemicals.

The smell of the candles makes it one of the best alternatives to the onion trick for soaking up the paint fumes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. Simply put some baking soda onto the carpet of the newly painted room and wait overnight.

Vacuum it up to get rid of the baking soda particles from the carpet.

If the room is not carpeted, you can pour baking soda onto bowls and plates and keep it in places where it can’t be knocked over.

After an overnight treatment, you can throw the baking soda away.



Who doesn’t love a good barbecue? But when you are doing a paint job, charcoal might just be your best friend for other than chargrilling meat for your meal.

This is another natural remedy to get rid of paint odor and no need to light it too!

You just need to crush a couple of pieces of charcoal and place it in the room in open containers.

The charcoal absorbs the paint smell within a few hours.  

Make sure you are not placing it in direct contact with the newly painted wall, floor, or carpet as it may leave a black stain which is difficult to remove.


Out of onions? Vinegar is another alternative to the onion method, although not the best one because of vinegar’s strong smell.

However, one thing is sure that it is quicker than the other natural remedies to get rid of paint fumes.

You can leave it out for a little while before draining it away to get results quickly.

For the acidic smell that lingers after, you can use a fan to let the vinegar fumes out of the house and out of mind.

Grounded Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are a natural neutralizer.

When shopping for perfumes, you might have used coffee beans to get your nasal receptors to awaken and allow you to continue having a rich experience when sampling different scents.

Grounded coffee beans in a newly painted room work the exact opposite.

Since they awaken the nasal receptors, you might think that it will make the paint smell even more unbearable.

But, putting freshly ground coffee, or simply ground coffee, around the space being painted makes it act like a natural deodorizer, thus absorbing the paint fumes in a couple of hours.

Summing Up Using Onions to Absorb Paint Fumes

Using an onion is one effective method for absorbing paint fumes.

The chemicals in the vegetable work by absorbing the paint smell, thus allowing you to have a peaceful, fume-free renovating experience

However, some may find the onion smell overbearing.

Who doesn’t love the smell of coffee however? Or scented candles?

If you do and you don’t want to use the onion method, there are many natural options like coffee beans and scented candles to get rid of the toxic fumes that linger days after the paint.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.