House Smells Like Paint Thinner! (Causes & Solutions)

By - Ron Singh

Updated -

The smell of some chemicals is unpleasant, and paint thinner is not an exception. You should be worried if your house smells like paint thinner because these chemicals can cause health hazards.

Apart from a recent painting done in the house, other things can cause the house to smell like a paint thinner.

When the house smells like paint thinner, you recently painted a room or the whole house. However, if you didn’t, there is a leak from the air conditioning system. Also, you should raise the alarm if you didn’t recently paint any room as this may be a sign of a chemical leak which can pose a risk to your health.

My House Smells Like Paint Thinner or Nail Polish

House Smells Like Paint Thinner

The house can smell like a paint thinner, especially if the house is just recently painted. The paint thinner has volatile organic compounds that produce a pungent smell during air exposure.

Some of the chemicals in the paint thinner include mineral and genuine turpentine, toluene, acetone, xylene, and dimethylformamide.

These chemicals pose a significant risk to the health of the house’s occupants.

Paint thinners serve as solvents to thin oil-based paints. Most solvents that serve as paint thinners have a flash point of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

The flash point is the minimum temperature at which liquid gives off vapor in a concentration sufficient to form an explosive mixture.

Therefore, the lower the liquid’s flash point, the easier it is to ignite the liquid solvent.

Painting the nails with nail polish can leave the house with a long-lasting smell. Nail polish has a fruity and pleasant smell.

However, the acetone in nail polish produces a pungent odor when it escapes into the air. This same smell is found in nail polish remover, although it is more potent in nail polish.      

How to Get Rid of Paint Thinner Smell In the House?

To get rid of the paint thinner smell in the house, you need to get rid of the source of the smell.

After getting rid of the source of the smell, you can then open your windows so that the remaining smell will go out and the house will be free. 

Since the significant paint thinner smell is from a recently painted room, ensure that all the materials used in painting the room are washed, cleaned, and dried.

If you cannot use them again, dispose of them properly in a sealed bag to conceal the smell before putting them in the trash can.

Paint thinner contains volatile organic compounds that escape into the air on exposure. When it evaporates, it produces a strong smell that can irritate the sensitive parts of the body.

To avoid this, choose paint thinners with low or no volatile organic compounds. There are several paint thinners around that can suit your preference.

You can get this product from the market or online stores. Also, you can reduce the concentration of smell from the source.

You do this by reducing the number of chemicals in the paint thinner. Additional chemicals added should be taken care of properly. 

Finally, the best way to get rid of the odor permanently is by neutralizing the odor. Neutralizing the odor reduces the smell, and the smell disappears after some time.

Below are some of the materials you can use to neutralize the odor in the house:

#1. White Vinegar

White vinegar contains about 6% acetic acid and about 93% water. It is used in the home for cleaning, cooking, and baking.

In addition, its high concentration is used in weed control. It is also used in health to lower blood sugar and cholesterol and helps people on their weight loss journey. 

Fortunately, it can also reduce or eradicate the paint thinner smell. First, fill some bowls with water and expose the vinegar to air.

The vinegar’s acids will help remove the smell from the atmosphere within a few hours. After this, you should dispose of the vinegar and wash down the sink with water.

#2. Water 

Water is easily accessible. Like vinegar, put some water in bowls and leave it open in the house or room you just painted for about 8 hours.

The water will neutralize the smell by absorbing some of the chemicals. You can dispose of the water afterward in a sink. It is the simplest method of removing the smell of a paint thinner.

#3. Baking Soda        

Baking soda is known for removing odors naturally, especially in freezers and rugs. It is proven to remove any unwanted smell, and the paint thinner smell is no exception.

Sprinkle a handful of baking soda everywhere, especially where the smell is the strongest. Leave it for some time and clean it off. 

#4. Air Purifier

Air purifiers are good at absorbing any foul odor in the house. The drying process takes time, but the smell will still go.

You can put on the air purifier while painting to eradicate the smell gradually.

#5. Activated Charcoal 

Activated charcoal is a good remover of environmental toxins and poison in the human body.

Fill some bowls with the activated charcoal and leave it for some time to absorb the smell of the house. You can dispose of it afterward.

#6. Use of Alcohol

Alcohol helps to remove bad smells from materials. If the area where the smell is coming from is small, you can drench a soft cloth in alcohol and use it to clean the place.

The alcohol will remove the smell. Below are the concentrations of alcohol that you can use to remove odor.

Locations/ Materials Concentration (%) 
Cleaning hard surfaces70
Sponges and cloths60-80

#7. Proper Ventilation

Please open the windows and doors to allow free air to come to him since volatile organic compounds smell when air exposure and proper ventilation will neutralize the smell.

Lack of good ventilation can cause the paint fumes to stay in the house. You can also put the fans on to aid in expelling the smell. I

t is advisable to allow proper ventilation from the start of painting the house till the finishing time. With this, the smell in the house will reduce and go out with time.

However, if it is from a leaking air conditioner or freezer, not the paint thinner itself, you should see a professional.

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technician has the skills and experience to repair any leaking appliances.

The technician will come and inspect the cause and the source of the leak and repair it. A component of the appliance might need to be changed or repaired.

Also, suppose the smell is from nail polish remover when an occupant of the house recently removed the polish on his nails.

As we all know, the smell of nail polish is unpleasant because it contains acetone and other chemicals. You can allow proper ventilation to enter the house by opening the windows and doors.

The House Smells Like Paint Thinner in Winter

If you paint during winter, it is possible that the house smells like paint thinner. Unfortunately, proper ventilation is not allowed this time because of the weather outside.

Also, if the room is painted with latex and acrylic paints, chemicals can produce an unharmful smell. 

However, to eradicate the smell, you can use a fan or a dehumidifier to give the house proper air circulation.

You can also clean up with liquid detergent and dish soap with water to take care of the house.

Moreover, you can choose a paint thinner with low volatile organic compounds or none, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers.

The paint thinners with low volatile organic compounds also have low or no odor. Fortunately, they also do well during painting, mainly interior painting.

They also come in different varieties and colors so you can choose the one that suits your preference.

A zero volatile organic compound is suitable in hospitals, schools, and elderly care homes because it has no odor. It is also an excellent option for repainting and building these facilities.

The Laundry Room Smells Like Paint Thinner.     

The laundry room can smell like paint thinner despite water and detergent exposure. This is because the washing machine can retain odor and dirt from the cloth it washed.

Therefore, if you use the washing machine to wash cloth with paint thinner and the smell does not go away with the cloth, the laundry room can smell like paint thinner.

Likewise, the washing machine can transfer the residual odor if you wash other clothes in the same machine without cleaning.

The solution to this is to clean the washing  machine with the steps below correctly:

  • Use a liquid detergent to clean the washing machine thoroughly. Ensure that you clean any stained spot properly with detergent.
  • Allow the detergent to stay for 10 minutes. 
  • Rinse the soap lather with hot water properly on the stained spot.
  • You should try all the processes if the odor remains again until the smell dissipates.
  • It would be best if you also washed the clothes that have paint thinner on them properly to remove the smell.
  • After this, then allow proper ventilation in the house.

Joint Reasons House Smells Like Paint Thinner.

There are different reasons why a house smells like paint thinner. Apart from the smell that can come from the paint thinner itself, there are also other sources of the smell.

Below are some of the reasons:

#1. Paint Thinner

The primary cause why the house smells like paint thinner is you recently painted your house or one of the rooms.

Paint thinner is the solvent used to thin paints and reduce the viscosity of paints. Examples of solvents used as paint thinners include acetone, toluene, and turpentine. 

House smelling like paint thinner majorly occurs when the house painting is not done with the painting brush but with an applicator.

Also, the material used in the painting can cause the house to smell when not thoroughly washed. 

Leak In the Air Conditioning System

The smell of paint thinner around the air conditioner is a bad sign which shows something is wrong.

Most times, the smell results from a leak in the air conditioner. With consistent usage, the coils in the AC can break down and stop working, causing the refrigerant of the AC to start leaking.

The air conditioning system uses chemicals to convert liquid to gas and then liquid. They also convert the hot air in the room to cool air. Unfortunately, the chemicals can become worse over time and start leaking.

Below are some of the ways to ascertain if the leak is from the air conditioner:

  • If the AC is no longer or barely cooling your house, you should check for a leak.
  • You should check for leaks and other abnormalities if there are strange, unfamiliar AC sounds.
  • The presence of ice on the lines and coils signifies a leak in the air conditioning system.

#2. Leaks From the Refrigerator

The refrigerator operates a cooling system similar to the air conditioning system. However, an old refrigerator can start leaking a chemical called freon which is hazardous to people’s health.

Leakage from the refrigerant affects the effectiveness and efficiency of the refrigerator’s cooling system.

A professional is a solution to this type of problem, and a replacement with a modern generator will be advisable.

#3. Nail Polish Remover

The nail polish remover has an unpleasant smell that smells like paint thinner. It is because the polish remover contains strong chemicals like acetone.

However, the remover smell does not linger on in the house for hours; it vanishes quickly with time.

#4. Furniture and Floor Polish

After polishing furniture and floor, the end products produce an unpleasant smell that resembles the paint thinner because of the chemical used.

Most varnishing products have high odorous chemicals that can linger in the house for some time.

Though the smell may vanish with time, it may not be comfortable for the house’s occupants.  

#5. Clogged Bathroom

Though rare, the bathroom can smell like paint thinner when clogged up with dirt. In addition, the air from the blocked pipes or drainage system can cause foul smells from chemicals. The solution is to fix all the lousy drainage systems in the house. 


Any reason can cause paint thinner smell in the house. Short-term exposure to the chemicals can cause dizziness, while long-term exposure can cause loss of consciousness.

Applying paint thinner amidst other chemicals can cause the house to smell like paint thinners.

An unpleasant smell in the house should be bothersome and proper care should be taken.

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