Many people are sensitive to paint fumes, and while interior paints are now available in zero-VOC formulations (meaning the paints have no volatile organic chemicals and don't really give off that classic paint odor), there are some people who can still smell just enough paint odor to make life in a recently painted room uncomfortable. If you're one of these people, you've got several options for getting rid of the smell, and a couple of them involve white vinegar, the same stuff you use in your salad dressing. Supposedly, white vinegar in a bowl will absorb the paint odors, but how does it do that, and what do you do if you still smell something?
Acetic Acid Content
White vinegar for culinary and general use is mainly water with about 5 percent acetic acid. This is what the "5 percent" on the label means. You can get white vinegar in a "cleaning" concentration of 10 percent acetic acid, and this version is not edible at all.
The acetic acid is key to this odd odor absorption. The acid works in two ways. For bacteria and fungi that cause odors, the acid kills the organisms, thus removing the source of the odors. For other odors, the acetic acid neutralizes the molecules that carry the odor.
Technically, all you have to do is place bowls of white vinegar around the room and change them every day or so. Another tactic is to place a couple of cups of white vinegar on a pan on the stove and simmer the vinegar for a few hours (being careful not to let the vinegar evaporate totally). As the water heats up, the acetic acid becomes even more active and neutralizes more odor molecules.
A Warning: Don't Boil the Vinegar
You may see websites say never to heat up vinegar because it will cause the acetic acid to do awful things. This isn't quite accurate. You don't want to boil vinegar because the water will boil off and leave concentrated acetic acid -- and that's not healthy for you to breathe in. But you can simmer vinegar (just as you can add vinegar to cooked dishes) as long as you don't let the vinegar evaporate -- keep adding more if you see the level in the pan dropping -- and you don't breathe in the fumes at the stove. Oh, and don't leave the vinegar simmering unattended, of course.
Persistent Paint Smells
Sometimes the vinegar just doesn't seem to work. You come home every day and still smell paint. This usually happens when the paint hasn't fully dried yet, which can take some time, or when the odors have seeped into carpeting and furniture that are farther away from the bowls of vinegar. Wash blankets and sheets, and deodorize the carpet and upholstery to help remove odors stuck in those items.
Interior paints are a lot better now in terms of odors, but if you're really sensitive, it helps to stock up on vinegar before the painting begins. You will eventually have a home that smells fine. Contact a company, like A Blaze of Color LLC , for more help.