There’s nothing like a freshly painted room to renew your spirits and make your decor look great again. Painting a room – or even an item of furniture – is one of the fastest ways to renovate it and give it a fresh lease on life…

If you’ve done all your DIY prep the right way, the process itself should have gone smoothly and cleanup should be minimal – but that lingering smell can be a dealbreaker, especially if you were using enamel or oil-based paints.

Here’s what you need to know to avoid weeks of headaches and irritated noses:

Why do paints leave behind a strong odour?

You may wonder why we live in an era where we can have wi-fi anywhere, but paint still stinks. The smells released are actually a critical part of the ‘curing’ procedure, where the wet paint from the can dries to the smooth finish you want.

That’s why enamel and oil-based paints always smell worse than acrylics, which are water-based and thus can cure in the air with less release of solvents.

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So, since we can’t get rid of the smelly phase for good, what can you do to make it more tolerable?

Reduce paint smells while you work

Be sure to stay neat and clean while you’re actually working in the room. Don’t leave paint cans open to the air, use drop cloths to catch spills, and place your cans and rollers on old newspaper while you aren’t working with them.

This will have the added benefit of keeping your paint fresh, as well as cutting down considerably on the bad smells being released into the room.

Remove all absorbent surfaces (like furnishings and curtains) you possibly can, too, so they don’t soak up the smell and hang on to it for weeks to come.

Banish the smell when you’re done

Since the odour is part of the drying process, even the best job will still leave a room whiffy when you are done.

You can significantly speed up the time it takes to return to normal, however. Charcoal bricks or bicarbonate of soda are your best bets to soak up smells, although you can also try coffee grounds, vinegar, vanilla/peppermint extract or sliced onion rings if you would rather.

Pop liberal bowls all around the room, so they can draw the smell in instead of letting it linger. Change them out daily until the smell is gone.

Try to leave soft furnishings out of the room as long as possible. Ventilate the room as much as you can, too, with open windows and running fans to speed up the exchange of tainted air with fresh air.

A DIY paint job needn’t be a headache, with these smart management tips.