how to get rid of varnish smell in house
Kristina Davis

If what you are searching for is a proper way how to get rid of varnish smell in house, then this is the article for you.

Applying varnish to wooden surfaces like doors and floors does come with its perks. 

Unfortunately, to some the sheer smell that comes with its application can be so intense, it is almost nauseating.

In this article, we discuss proper steps and methods on how to remove varnish smell from house.

Do ensure you read on till the end.

The varnish smell in the house can be removed using a few methods and ingredients like baking soda. One can also use a powerful fan or simply ventilate the room where the varnish is.

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How To Get Rid Of Varnish Smell In House

get rid varnish smell

The process of getting rid of varnish smell in your home can be quite simple.

However, you have to consider a few things, like the toxicity of the smell and the length of time it takes for the home to be fully rid of the smell. 

Is The Smell Of Varnish Harmful To People?   

The application of varnish to wooden floors and doors does have its advantages.

For one, it provides a form of protection against damages caused by water or even aging wood. 

Another advantage would be that varnish also helps maintain the beauty these floors and doors offer by providing a shiny coat.

And when in a clean house, this shiny coat does provide certain aesthetically pleasing sights. 

apply wood varnish

But, with the strong smell that it emits, some are worried about the health implications of inhaling these strong smells. 

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Well, in fact, the smell that comes from varnish finishes is indeed harmful when inhaled for long periods. 

Varnish is made of volatile organic compounds like hydrocarbons such as solvents and resins. These are quite harmful to the body when taken in for long periods or time frames. 

Once applied, these toxic solvents and resins can be easily carried by the oxygen in the air.

This makes for a potent chemical that would harm the body, with longer exposure. 

What Happens When You Inhale Varnish?

what happens inhale varnish

The list of illnesses and symptoms caused by inhaling excess varnish is quite large. The basic symptoms are dizziness or nausea.

This is mostly a symptom experienced by both children and pregnant women. 

For pregnant women, it is much worse, as prolonged exposure to varnish smells can lead to brain damage for the baby in her womb.

In addition to this, they might experience convulsions and even lose all alertness to events around them. 

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Other people affected are the elderly or those with a weakened immune system. They suffer from issues such as a burn in their gastrointestinal tract.

This can lead to damaged tissues and, eventually, loss of life. 

With all that has been said, you can understand the reasons why proper steps should be taken to protect ourselves and family from the toxic fumes caused by the use of varnish in homes. 

Tip: It would be wise to keep all varnish stored indoors labeled and kept far from the reach of children or the elderly. 

How Long Does It Take For Varnish Smell To Fade Away? 

varnish smell fade

The use of varnish in homes does come in stages. There is the drying stage which often takes a period of 1 to 2 days to complete.

Then follows the curing stage, which approximately takes a period of 4 to 6 days to complete. 

When looking at these two stages, you should be most concerned with the curing stage.

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This is because you can only feel safe when the varnish applied would have been completely cured. 

drying wood varnish

So in summary, it takes an average of 6 to 8 days for the varnish smell to be completely gone from homes to which they would have been applied. 

But for a more detailed understanding, let’s take a deeper look into both stages of varnish, the drying, and the curing stage. 

Tip: If only a room or 2 was varnished in the whole house then stay away from the rooms for an average of 6 to 8 days. 

The Drying Stage 

There is a common mistake people make when it comes to the drying stage.

Once complete, the smell is reported to become widely reduced most people believe the remnant smell is harmless and can be taken in. 


However, this is not the case. While the smell can be tolerated it is still potentially harmful, especially with prolonged exposure to the fumes. 

Although we gave a rough estimate of how long it takes for this period to be complete. Its actual time depends on a few factors.

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These are:

  • Wood Quality: stained wooden surfaces would take a longer time to dry than raw surfaces.
  • The Formula Used: is it an oil-based varnish or a water-based varnish being used? Because oil-based varnish is more pungent. 
  • The Humidity And Temperature Level: hot or humid climates can help speed up drying time. 
  • Amount Of Coats Used: the higher the coats used in varnish, the longer it would need to properly dry off.
Note: Stained wood is said to still emit a strong smell after drying, so it can only be safe after curing.

The Curing Stage

The curing stage is the final stage. At this stage, the varnish should be completely gone and the area can be safe for habitation.

curing wood varnish

How long it takes for this stage to be completed depends heavily on the temperature and humidity.

For water-based varnish, it can take approximately 21 days, while for oil-based varnish, expect one month. 

The reason we gave a period of 6 to 8 days earlier is that it can be 80% cured in a week, so it is much safer at that time. 

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Methods For Getting Rid Of Varnish Smell 

With all that has been said about the use of varnish in the house, is there a proper way to get rid of the smell?

Is there a way to get rid of it without having to stay away from the house for such long periods? 

Luckily, the answer is yes. And here’s how.

Method #1: Provide Enough Ventilation

enough ventilation

The best way to reduce the effects of the harmful fumes would be to properly ventilate the room or house in which it has been used. 

To do this, crack open the windows and leave them open during the first 2 to 3 days after using the varnish in the room or house. 

You can also make use of a proper fan to help increase ventilation in the room or house.

Not only would it help increase ventilation, but it would also help increase the speed at which the varnish would dry up.

Tip: Be sure to properly close all doors when allowing ventilation into the room as the goal is to avoid the spread of the smell to other portions of the house. 

Method #2: Use Baking Soda  

baking soda

Baking soda isn’t just useful in cooking delicious meals. It is also a strong absorbent to certain smells, and varnish is definitely one of them. 

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In the area where the varnish has been used, place a thin layer of baking soda in that space and keep it for some time. 

Now we shouldn’t have to tell you that baking soda that has been used to absorb smell or odors like varnish should not be used in cooking.

Doing that is careless and very risky. 

Method #3: An Air Purifier 

If you’ve got an air purifier in your home, then you should consider making use of it. If you have multiple, it would be better. 

Place them right next to the area that the varnish has been applied to, this would help get rid of the smell a lot faster.

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Method #4: Use Vinegar Or Lemon

vinegar or lemon

Both vinegar and lemon juice also acts as an absorbent that can be used to absorb strong odors and smells like that of varnish.

Place either one of them in a bowl in large quantities and place them right next to the area where the varnish has been applied to.

Once done, leave them there for a period of 2 to 4 days

Again, do not consume items that have been used for such purposes, it would be unwise and risky.


Hopefully, you should be careful when applying varnish to your homes and houses.

With all that has been said above, you should know just how to get rid of varnish smell in house. 

That’s all we have for you in this article, do ensure you check out the website for more engaging articles.