How to Get Rid of Polyurethane Smell?

Polyurethane like most paints gives off that strong chemical smell when you open and apply the paint. A chemical smell lingering around the home isn’t what anyone wants. So how do you get rid of the polyurethane smell?

You can get rid of polyurethane smell by making the polyurethane paint dry faster. Polyurethane releases a strong smell and fumes but only when the paint is still wet.

When the polyurethane gets dry, the solvent and chemicals causing the paint to smell will have evaporated or cured with the paint. You can make polyurethane dry faster by improving ventilation, using a hairdryer, and using a dehumidifier.

If the polyurethane is dry and still smelling, you can use sliced onions and baking soda to absorb the polyurethane smell. You can also use perfume oils, air purifiers, and air fresheners to make the room smell better.

But why does polyurethane smell? Let’s find out.

Why Does Polyurethane Smell?

Polyurethane paint smells because the paint has a high volume of chemicals and solvents.

Polyurethane paint is a polymer that contains recycled plastic, polyols, resins, and synthetic rubber amongst other compounds. All of these chemicals are mixed and then stored together in a metal container until the paint container is opened by the consumer

When you open the paint, the chemicals that were sealed in there are released into the atmosphere. The reaction of these chemicals to the compounds in the atmosphere like nitrogen and oxygen releases strong fumes which you perceive as the polyurethane smell.

You should know that oil-based polyurethane smells stronger than water-based polyurethane. This is because asides from the large presence of chemicals in the paint, oil-based polyurethane contain a high volume of synthetic oils too.

The paint is suspended in oils meaning that it will take longer to dry than water-based polyurethane that is suspended in water. Since polyurethane stops smelling when the paint is dry, oil-based polyurethane will continue to smell long after water-based polyurethane has dried and stopped smelling.

The smell of polyurethane is a strong chemical whiff. The type of smell you pick up in a laboratory or paint factory. If it smells different from this, then the polyurethane has most likely gone bad. A foul-smelling polyurethane means there are paint-eating bacteria in the paint that have damaged it.

So does polyurethane smell go away? Let’s find out.

Does Polyurethane Smell Go Away?

Does Polyurethane Smell Go Away?

Polyurethane smell eventually goes away when the paint has completely dried or cured. The paint produces a strong chemical whiff while the coat is still wet.

When the coat is wet, it means the solvents and chemicals causing the smell are still present in large amounts in the paint coating. So these chemicals will continue to smell. But once the solvent is completely evaporated and the paint coating has hardened, the smell goes away.

However, polyurethane tends to still produce a low odor after the paint has cured. This is common with oil-based polyurethane. In such cases, the chemicals in the paint have not been fully dispersed. So even after the paint has dried, it will still smell. But you should know that the odor at this stage is usually low and in most cases, you wouldn’t even smell it.

Polyurethane can also continue to smell after it has dried if you laid it on too thick or if you applied too many coats. If you applied too much polyurethane, there will be a higher volume of paint chemicals leading to a more polyurethane smell. To this effect, it’s commonly advised not to apply more than 3 light coats of polyurethane.

How Long Does It Take For Polyurethane To Stop Smelling?

It takes between 3 days and 2 weeks for polyurethane paint to stop smelling. On average, most polyurethane paint products will stop smelling after 5 days.

You should know that the time it takes for the paint to stop smelling depends on the paint’s dry-time, environmental conditions, number of coats, and the type of polyurethane paint.

If you apply more than the required number of polyurethane coats, the polyurethane paint will take longer to stop smelling because there will be a higher volume of paint chemicals. Also, if the environment is moist, the polyurethane paint will not dry quickly. The longer the paint takes to dry, the more it will smell.

Now, let’s check out how to remove polyurethane smell from furniture or wood

How To Get Rid Of Wet Polyurethane Smell?

How To Get Rid Of Wet Polyurethane Smell?

If wood or furniture is smelling of polyurethane, it’s usually because the polyurethane hasn’t dried. So here is how to get the paint to get dry faster.

1. Using a Hairdryer

Hairdryers produce up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. This level of heat is enough to make the polyurethane dry twice as fast.

  • Plug-in the hairdryer
  • Set it to medium heat, around 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit. Since you are working on wood, too much heat can burn the furniture.
  • Move the hairdryer over the wet polyurethane surface for a few minutes
  • Leave the paint to cure.

You can also get the polyurethane paint dry faster by

2. Using a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers reduce the moisture content in the atmosphere and release dry air so the paint can get dry faster.

  • Plug-in the dehumidifier
  • Turn on the dehumidifier
  • Leave it to run for a few hours.

You can also get the polyurethane to dry faster by

3. Improving Air Circulation

This step works in two ways. It helps to get the polyurethane paint dry faster and it also helps to expel the strong polyurethane smell from the room.

  • Open all windows and doors in the room
  • Open the air vents
  • Turn on all fans
  • Set the air conditioner to blow or fan.

Now you know how to remove polyurethane smell by making the paint dry faster. But what if the paint has dried. How do you remove the smell then?

How To Remove Dried Polyurethane Smell?

How To Remove Dried Polyurethane Smell?

You can remove polyurethane smell from the atmosphere by using any of the following methods:

1. Using Air Purifiers

Air purifiers help to sanitize and clean the air in the room. The appliance helps to remove toxic fumes and chemical smells in the air. So it will work to purify the polyurethane smell.

2. Using Perfume Oils and Other Diffusers

Diffusers like perfume oils, air fresheners, and the likes release and add particles to the air. These particles are usually tiny droplets of fragrant oils like lavender, rose, lemongrass, jasmine, and the likes.

These oils have strong scents that quickly cover the offensive odor of polyurethane. But you should know that this method is often a temporary one as the polyurethane smell will most likely outlast the scent of the diffuser.

3. Using Baking Soda or Onions

Baking soda and onions absorb unpleasant odors in the air. You should get several bowls and fill them with water. Then you can mix a few tablespoons of baking soda in the water. Then slice fresh onions into the water too. The mixture will quickly absorb the polyurethane smell in the air.

4. Using Vinegar or Apple Cider

Vinegar and apple cider both produce strong scents that will quickly cover the unpleasant smell of polyurethane paint.

You can pour some vinegar or apple cider into plastic containers and place the containers in each corner of the room. Within minutes, you won’t smell polyurethane again. All you’ll smell is vinegar.

Tip: Before you use any of the methods listed above, you MUST open all windows and doors to allow cross ventilation.

If not, the room will be quickly filled with a mixture of polyurethane smell and whatever product you are using. This can make the air unbreathable.

Now, let’s check out how to get rid of the polyurethane smell from clothes.

How To Get Rid Of Polyurethane Smell From Clothes?

To get rid of polyurethane smell from clothes and fabrics, you have to soak, wash, rinse, and dry the clothes. Here is a guide on how to do this:

  1. Mix some laundry detergent in warm water. Laundry detergents usually have fragrances that can remove the polyurethane smell.
  2. Soak the clothes in soapy water for a few minutes. You can soak the clothes overnight if you please.
  3. Wash and scrub the clothes repeatedly. If there is polyurethane paint on the cloth, use a soft sponge or brush to scrub it off.
  4. Rinse the clothes twice in clean water.
  5. Spread the clothes under the sun.

This five-step strategy will remove the polyurethane smell from the cloth. But for a quick fix, you can try spraying a perfume on the cloth.

So is there a polyurethane paint that doesn’t smell? Let’s find out.

Is There Polyurethane That Doesn’t Smell?

Generally, all polyurethane paints release some sort of smell. However, the smell varies based on the type of polyurethane. Water-based polyurethane tends to smell lesser when compared to oil-based polyurethane.

Not just that, water-based polyurethane smell goes away pretty quickly unlike oil-based polyurethane smell that can linger for several days.

So if you need polyurethane paint that doesn’t smell, your best bet is to go for water-based polyurethane paint. You can also go for polyurethane paints that are advertised as “low-odor.” But you should know that such polyurethane paints are usually water-based.

Tips On Preventing Polyurethane Smell

The following pro-tips will help you prevent that strong chemical odor while applying polyurethane paint.

  • Apply the paint outdoors. This way, the smell will quickly go away.
  • Put bowls of vinegar or baking soda around the room before, during, and after applying the polyurethane paint. This helps to absorb and cover the polyurethane smell.
  • Open all windows and doors so there is proper ventilation
  • Install air diffusers in the room like automatic air fresheners
  • Use a hairdryer to get the polyurethane coat dry faster since the paint smells more while it’s wet.
  • Apply light and fewer coats of polyurethane. The more coats you add, the more likely it is for the paint to keep smelling
  • Apply water-based polyurethane since it doesn’t smell as much as oil-based polyurethane.
  • Turn on the fans to blow the polyurethane smell outside. This also helps to get the paint dry faster
  • Cover your nose with a mask to prevent you from inhaling the polyurethane paint.

Final Words

Overall, polyurethane paint is very likely to smell especially after applying the paint. But this smell only lingers till the paint coating is completely dry.

To prevent a build-up of the paint’s smell, you should open all windows and doors to allow proper ventilation.

And to remove the smell, you can use vinegar, baking soda, air diffusers, or air purifiers. Any of these will work to mask and get rid of the polyurethane paint smell.

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