Do onions absorb paint fumes?

Onion is often used to absorb odors since it contains Propanethiol – a chemical responsible for its strong smell. But can an onion help with paint odor?

It can be frustrating when you finish a DIY project at home, but you are left with this irritating odor lingering in the air. The strong smell can be nauseating, and if you remain exposed for too long, it could cause respiratory irritation.

Paints contain a long list of chemicals, both toxic and non-toxic. One of these chemicals is Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which is a solvent which evaporates as paint dries, releasing toxic fumes into the air. This is where the irritating smell comes from.

One of the most obvious things to do if you want to remove paint odor from inside the house is to keep the room properly ventilated. You have to leave the windows open for 2-3 days.

But if you can’t withstand those fumes anymore, make use of onions to soak up paint fumes. In fact, onions are a cheap and organic way of eliminating odors.

How do onions eliminate paint odors?

Onions contain a chemical known as Propanethiol, which is responsible for the strong smell they produce.

When this compound comes into contact with the chemical that makes paint smell (aldehydes), the reaction neutralizes the aldehydes.

Now that the scientific bit is out of the way let’s get into the technical bit that matters here. We will take look at how you can use onions properly to rid your home of that annoying paint smell.

How to use onions to get rid of paint fumes

Although this method will surely leave your home smelling like onions for some time, it sure beats the paint smell. And besides, it will only last a few hours.

Onions absorb paint fumes much faster than most other methods.

Follow these simple steps to get it done:

  1. Peel a large onion or two, depending on the size of the painted room.
    Peeling an onion
  2. Cut them in half (one half for each corner of the room)
    Cut the peeled onions into two
  3. Place each half in a shallow container and place in all the corners of the room with the cut side facing up
  4. Place them anywhere else you feel the smell needs to be absorbed from
  5. Leave the onions in the room overnight and throw them out in the morning

Ensure to place the onions where your children or pets cannot reach them. Do not try to repurpose the onions because they are contaminated with chemicals from the paint. Toss them in the trash and repeat if necessary.

You should also keep the room well-ventilated throughout the process. It helps to hasten the process as well as get rid of the onion smell.