Paint Smells Like Rotten Eggs (Reasons Explained) (2023)

Paint Smells Like Rotten Eggs (Reasons Explained) (1)

When it’s time to touch up the paint in a room, you may head to the garage to see what kind of leftover paint you have.

If you end up finding the right color, that is excellent news.

However, there is still some work to do.

You must open the can and make sure the paint is still good enough to use.

Unfortunately, some paint starts to smell like rotten eggs after a while.

Understanding why this happens and ways you can avoid it will undoubtedly help save you a bit of time on your home improvement projects.

Here are some reasons your paint smells like rotten eggs and what you can do about it.

Why Does Paint Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

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The reason your paint smells like rotten eggs is bacteria growth.

Although you may think that the chemical nature of paint keeps it from growing bacteria or smelling, that is not the case.

Paint is actually subject to bacteria growth, especially when it is not stored correctly.

There are a few different ways the paint can end up smelling like rotten eggs and getting this bacteria inside the can.

The most common way is when it is partially used and then stored.

Sometimes while the paint can is open, it gets bacteria or something from the brush or environment in which it is open.

Then the paint can is closed and put away, trapping these things inside the can.

Other times, a paint can is left partially open when it is stored.

If it is stored in an environment where there are frequent temperature changes or potential contaminants in the air, it could be a problem.

Bacteria can also get in your paint when tints are added.

When they add coloring to your paint at the local hardware store, it could make it grow bacteria after it has been stored for a long period.

You will find that the better the paint is for you, the higher the chance that your paint will have a bacteria problem.

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This means that, if you are purchasing low VOC paint, you should strive to use all of it and not store large amounts.

The solvents in those paints are not going to work quite as well to stabilize the bacteria, the solvents are generally a bit weaker, and there are fewer of them.

How Do I Know if Paint Is Still Usable?

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The first step to making sure your paint project goes off without a hitch is to use good paint.

If your paint has a rotten egg smell, you will know that it is covered in bacteria and not, in fact, safe to use.

However, sometimes there are other red flags which may have you wondering if the paint is still usable.

To start, you can use a screwdriver or paint can opener to lift the lid on the can and inspect the paint.

1. Chemical Smell

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Good paint is going to have a chemical smell.

It won’t smell like rotten eggs, but instead, it will have a strong chemical smell.

You will almost feel as though the smell is a bit too strong to really take in.

This means that your paint is likely still good to use.

2. Visual Check

Paint Smells Like Rotten Eggs (Reasons Explained) (5)

When you open your paint can, take a good look at the paint to see if it is still, in fact, good.

If you notice mold on the paint, it is no longer useable.

You will not be able to fix this issue, and the mold will end up being very bad for your walls.

If you notice that your paint has separated, this does not necessarily mean that it is bad.

The first step will be to start mixing your paint with a stirring stick.

If the paint blends together, it will be fine to start using it.

If you notice that there is a thin skin on the top that won’t mix in, you can remove that skin from the can.

When stirring, if you notice that there are large chunks of sediment on the bottom of the can, then this paint should be thrown away.

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Sometimes you will be able to tell right away that a can of paint is unusable, and other times, it takes a bit of investigative work to check it out.

3. Time

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How long has it been since you used the paint?

If you know you painted with it last summer, chances are it may still be just fine.

If, instead, you haven’t used the paint since you moved into your home 18 years ago, chances are the paint is bad.

The shelf life of a can of paint is not going to last decades.

How Long Does It Take for the Paint Smell to Go Away?

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After you paint a room in your house, you are going to have to wait about two to three days for the paint smell to go away.

Unfortunately, the paint smell tends to linger depending on the ventilation in the room and the air and humidity conditions as well.

Those who have any breathing issues or health concerns should stay away from the painted room until the smell has started to go away.

Most people who paint their children’s room will give them a few days before they allow the child to sleep in the room.

Paint fumes can lead to breathing issues, and it can also give you a headache.

If you can avoid these things simply by staying away, it will undoubtedly be worth it.

How Long Should You Ventilate the Room After Painting?

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In addition to not wanting to move back into your room, it is also very important to keep the air flowing through that room.

You should have the doors and windows open when possible, and you can even use a fan if needed to just keep the air moving around.

You should start this process as soon as you finish painting and keep it going for the next 48 hours or so before you move back into the room.

One thing you must be very careful of when trying to ventilate a room is that you are not doing any damage to the paint job that you just did.

If the floor in the room is dirty or it starts to rain outside, make sure you are not pushing dirt around the room.

Ventilation is extremely important, but you also need to make sure you don’t ruin the paint job that you just worked so hard on.

Having pieces of dust, dirt, and debris wind up on the wet, freshly painted walls will mean that you have quite a bit of work in front of you.

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Take a look at the paint can you are using.

See if there are specific recommendations for how to ventilate or help to keep down the smell.

What Gets Rid of the Smell of Paint Fast?

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Sometimes you may not be able to clear your house out for a few days after a paint job.

If this is the case, there are some ways you can get rid of the paint smell in your home.

One way people like is to take small cups of vinegar or apple cider vinegar and leave them around the room.

The vinegar will absorb the paint smell in the room, and it will not release any other smells or toxicity into the room.

Some have done this with lemon juice in cups around the room and even bleach.

It all depends on the environment of the room and which seems to work the best.

This process is certainly worth it if you need to get the paint smell to go away quickly.

Even when using these extra measures to get rid of the paint smell, you must also keep in mind that ventilation is key.

Putting vinegar around the room is helpful, but it won’t be quite as good as keeping fresh air moving through the house.

How to Get Rid of Paint Smell That Won’t Go Away

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Sometimes even after a three- or four-day period, you will find that your freshly painted walls still smell.

Although this is a rare occurrence, it can happen.

One option you have is to make a solution of one part bleach with ten parts water and wipe the walls with a damp sponge.

You do not want to soak the walls as this is likely not going to be very good for them.

Instead, simply wipe down lightly and see if that does the trick.

If you find that the smell is still causing a problem for you or a family member, you can look for an odor sealing paint.

This is a paint that will essentially seal the walls from releasing any more of the unpleasant paint smell.

This step is effective, but it is a bit annoying to have to add to the process.

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After all, you just finished painting your room, and now you are going to need to paint it again with the sealer.

Unfortunately, once that primer or sealer is put on, then you will need to repaint your room.

This type of situation usually only comes up if you use spoiled paint on the walls of your home.

The spoiled paint is what causes the smell, and it could take a very long time for it to go away.

This is what makes checking on the paint so important.

Before you put anything on the walls, make sure it is not going to cause you weeks of continued work and projects.

How Long Does Paint Last?

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One of the great things about paint is that it lasts quite a long time.

As long as you store it properly, you should be able to keep the paint for ten years.

If you have oil-based paint, there is a chance it will last for up to 15 years.

One thing you need to be sure of is that the top is on securely when you put the paint away.

Use a hammer to hit the top of the can around the edges so that it closes all the way.

When you need to open the can again, you can use a screwdriver, and the lid will easily pop off.


If your paint smells like rotten eggs, get rid of it.

There is no reason for dealing with this kind of paint, and chances are you will end up making your house smell like rotten eggs.

Most homeowners recognize the chemical smell of paint.

This is what you will want your paint to smell like when you open the can.

If you are not sure that paint is still good, you can sample it on a small piece of scrap wood before you start putting it on your walls.

Let it dry and see how the paint comes out.

If all looks fine, chances are the paint in that can is still good.


Why does paint smell like rotten eggs? ›

The most common culprit in stinky paint is bacteria, which can be introduced into the paint at the factory, or when tints are added at the hardware store, or when a can is partially used and then stored.

Why does my white paint smell like rotten eggs? ›

A common problem. This is a well-known issue across the paint industry, experts say. Graham Hill, managing director of ECHA Microbiology in Cardiff, said bacteria can grow in the paint can and release hydrogen sulphide gas, which causes a bad egg smell, and ammonia, which can explain the urine smell.

What causes paint to smell? ›

The main reason why fresh paint can leave a strong odor is due to the chemicals it contains. These chemicals are known as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. VOC's are solvents that are commonly found in paints, used to keep the paint in liquid form for application.

How do you get rid of the smell of rotten paint? ›

Just placing a bowl full of baking soda in the painted space is enough to enjoy a room free from paint odor. Like charcoal, baking soda also has the property of absorbing bad odor. It is useful in eliminating even the strongest paint smell.

Why does my emulsion paint smell bad? ›

In this instance, the odour is caused by the evaporation of solvents that are mixed in with the paint to thin it. This 'gassing off' is referred to as a paint's VOC level (Volatile Organic Compound), which is relatively high for solvent-based mediums. The solution is simple: switch to water-based paint.

What does spoiled paint smell like? ›

If your paint smells sour, that is a glaring signal that it has gone bad and needs to be thrown out immediately.

Can paint go bad in cold? ›

Freezing temperatures can do permanent damage to the emulsion in paint, causing the paint to become a strange consistency. Paint that has frozen and thawed may become ropey, stringy or clumpy. It may be the consistency of cottage cheese or gritty, like sandy water.

Why does Farrow and Ball paint smell? ›

VOCs are the culprits behind the strong smell of some oil and solvent based paints, a result of pollutants being released into the atmosphere as the paint dries.

Does paint smell when its bad? ›

Although opened paint can last up to around two years (if stored properly), you can usually tell if it has spoiled by looking at the expiration date. If however, it gives off a foul, rancid smell you should probably get rid of it (see further down to dispose of stale paint responsibly).

What is the chemical smell in paint? ›

In chemistry, the fumes of paints are commonly called VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. These are chemical pollutants from liquid or solid substances that transform into gases, making them inhalable in layman's terms.

Is paint smell toxic? ›

Even though fumes from latex and oil paints can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, they do not poison the body when used as directed. Any irritation should go away once you get into fresh air. If fresh air doesn't help, take a warm shower and wash your hair.

Will bad paint smell go away? ›

How Long Until Paint Smell Goes Away? Paint is a very powerful smell that can last for a long-extended period of time in an environment. The process for paint to dissipate within an environment can take weeks and sometimes months after the painting took place in the indoor environment.

How can you tell if paint is bad? ›

You can tell paint has gone bad by the smell and texture. A rancid or sour-smelling paint means your paint has gone bad. In particular, the smell of bad paint is similar to sour milk. Other indicators of expired paint include a lumpy or chunky paint consistency.

Why does my paint smell sour? ›

Bacteria is present in the paint, causing a sour smell that lingers even after the paint is dry. This is most likely to occur in paints that are over 10 years old, but bacteria can breed sooner if the paint is stored incorrectly. So if you just opened a can of bad-smelling paint, you'll want to toss it.

Does paint smell like gas? ›

When drying paint mixes with traces of natural gas in the air (from your stove, water boiler, etc.), it produces an odor similar to kerosene. It's not dangerous - just thoroughly air out your house. If the problem persists after the paint dries, call the gas company.


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