smelling paint when there is none
Kristina Davis

Should you really worry about smelling paint when there is none? Are you hallucinating? Is this black magic? Or, is there something else going on? 

In most cases, the source of the problem is inside your home. And in rare cases, it could be due to a medical condition, which may or may not need further assistance.

Mostly, smelling paint thinner when there is none may be the outcome of a recent paint job, but it could be because of a condition called phantosmia. 

READ NEXT:  Best Products to Make House Smell Good!

Smelling Paint When There Is None – What To Do Next?

what to do

Why do I smell paint where there is none? If you are among those who have recently started smelling various chemical smells, you are not alone.

If the smell of paint thinner permeates your home, you will likely have recently painted at least one of your rooms.

If you haven’t painted in a while, there’s a strong likelihood that the musty odor you’re picking up is coming from your air conditioner. 

Is It Bad To Smell Chemicals In Your Home?

In case you have not painted your rooms in a while and suddenly notice the smell of a paint thinner, it can be a startling and unsettling experience.

It is essential to keep in mind that some substances have a similar odor.

Because of this, the first thing you will want to do is determine the source of the odor.

VOCs or volatile organic compounds are typically the culprits behind the paint thinner odor.

READ NEXT:  Which Fabuloso Smells the Best? - Complete Guide

Organic compounds that are volatile can easily be released into the air and have a pungent stench that is comparable to that of paint thinner.

smell paint
Tip: Never ignore VOCs because they can evaporate quickly and have the potential to irritate your skin, eyes, and other body parts. 

Why Are You Smelling Paint When There Is None?

So many things could cause the issue. Let’s go over some of the possible explanations for why you might be smelling paint thinner in your house. 

You Have Painted Recently

If you’ve recently painted your house, the smell of paint thinner shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you.

Paint thinner is frequently utilized to thin down the consistency of paint in order to facilitate more consistent application.

It is also used to remove unwanted paint from rollers, brushes, walls, and other painting tools.

painted recently
Tip: You should also check if there are any opened containers of thinner, and if there are, check if their lids are properly and securely fastened.

You Have A Refrigerator Leakage

Older refrigerators sometimes smell like paint thinner because they use freon as a refrigerant, which is a dangerous material.

READ NEXT:  How To Get Rid Of Varnish Smell In House - The Right Way

In case of any leakage, you feel that smell of “refrigerant” in the air. It means even if you have not done a paint job recently, you will still smell chemicals. 

You Have Air Conditioning Leaks

A leaking air conditioner is one of the most prevalent reasons why there is a stench similar to paint thinner in your home.

It happens because your air conditioning system’s coils are susceptible to wear and tear over time.

Eventually, this results in refrigerant escaping through the system.

leak in air conditioning

If your air conditioning system is the root cause, you will likely notice it become stronger near it. 

And if that is the case, know that the smell of paint thinner is often the result of a fluid leak somewhere in the system. 

READ NEXT:  Why Does My House Smell Like Nail Polish Remover? - How to Fix

Can You Smell Paint Because Of A Health Condition?

If you have not painted your home recently and the smell is not coming from a malfunctioning appliance, it could be something else. 

And in rare cases, it results from an olfactory hallucination called phantosmia. 

What Is Phantosmia?

When someone has phantosmia, the smells they feel might be unpleasant or pleasant, depending on the person experiencing the condition.


Phantom odors are not usually a reason for concern and you do not need any treatment.

However, in rare cases, it can be an indicator of a serious underlying disease. 

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you notice smells similar to: 

  • Burnt toast
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Burning rubber
  • A moldy or stale smell
  • A metallic or chemical smell
  • A rotting or spoiled smell 

The treatment for phantosmia is different for each patient.

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have persistent sinusitis or experience any type of nasal inflammation for some time.  

READ NEXT:  What If My Garbage Disposal Smells Like Dead Animal? - Fix Guide

How Do You Neutralize Paint Thinner Smell after a Paint Job?

Okay, so you know you have had a paint job quite recently and it could be the reason behind you smelling the paint thinner smell. 

Thankfully, there are things you can do about it and neutralize the smell quickly. 

Inspect Your Home After Painting

Ideally, you should inspect your home and look for any items that may not have been cleaned after use.

house inspection

It is essential to make certain that all of the equipment that was utilized in the painting procedure is thoroughly cleaned or discarded in an appropriate manner.

Put them in a bag you can seal and then throw them away instead of simply tossing them into the garbage.

By doing so, you will be able to enclose the source of the odor, which will stop the emission of any further chemicals into the atmosphere. 

An Important Consideration

These days, consumers have an overwhelming number of alternatives when it comes to paint and paint thinner.

READ NEXT:  How to Keep Dresser Drawers Smelling Fresh? An Extensive Guide

If you are sensitive to the strong smells produced by paint, you should choose to paint with a low odor or VOC content. 

Fix Your Refrigerator

To rule out the possibility of your refrigerator being behind your “smelling” trouble, you should inspect it closely.

fix the refrigerator

If the refrigerator has any kind of hole or puncture in it, there’s a good chance that the Freon is escaping.

If that is the case, you have no choice but to immediately get in touch with an HVAC professional to fix the refrigerator.

Tip: It is possible to confirm if your refrigerator has a Freon leak using soapy water or with the help of a leak detection kit.

Fix Your AC Unit

Your AC unit uses refrigerants for cooling. If these refrigerants leak, it won’t take long for the odor of paint thinner to permeate your home.

To confirm your AC unit is indeed the culprit, look for other signs as well. 

READ NEXT:  How Long Does Vinegar Smell Last In Carpet?

Do you notice your cooling system failing to cool your home adequately? Is there any ice forming on the coils?

Or, do you notice any weird sounds coming out of your AC?

fix the ac unit

If you notice these issues with a smell resembling a paint thinner, be sure to call in a professional to have a closer look and repair your AC unit. 

Make Use of Water

You may get rid of the smell of paint thinner using a few bowls of water.

After you have finished painting a room, bring in a few bowls, fill them with water, and leave them there overnight.

The water absorbs the chemicals from the air and lowers the effect of bad smell.

This is the most straightforward option, given that bowls and water are readily available to all of us.

Tip: You can take some baking soda and sprinkle it around your home to help neutralize foul odors. 

Try White Vinegar

Vinegar is another useful ingredient in the kitchen and around the house.

READ NEXT:  Help!!! My Washer Smells Like Rotten Eggs - Fix Guide!
white vinegar

In order to get rid of the smell of paint thinner, the type of vinegar recommended is white vinegar.

To make it work, you will need some bowls, just as you did with the water. Pour into the bowls and let the acids in the vinegar do their job.

The smelly compounds in the paint thinner will be removed from the room in a matter of a few hours, thanks to the vinegar.

Tip: Add some activated charcoal powder to a bowl and place it in your room to get rid of any foul smell. 


Smelling paint when there is none could be an issue as simple as fixing your AC unit.

But, it could sometimes be as unique as having a unique condition called phantosmia. 

Take your time and consider all possible causes to identify the root cause and fix it once and for all.