Old-Fashioned Remedies for Paint Fumes

Use low- or no-VOC paints to safeguard your family's health.

Short-term exposure to paint fumes can cause headaches or asthma-like symptoms, say authors Dr. Earl Mindell and Virginia Hopkins. Keep the room or area you're painting as well-ventilated as possible. According to Suzanne Gerber, former editor of "The Vegetarian Times," long-term environmental or job exposure to paint can trigger an allergy and chronic symptoms. Use old-fashioned remedies to absorb fumes to lessen personal health risks.

1 Vinegar

Grandmother knew about the many uses of vinegar. Placing open dishes in the painting area was one of the ways she used vinegar's acidic properties. Adding a cup of vinegar and water to a bucket of hay from the barn helps draw paint fumes and odors out of the air, according to "Vim and Vinegar" by Melodie Moore. If you don't have hay on hand, substitute shredded newspapers. Author Josephus Goodenough's 1907 book "The Favorite Medical Receipt Book and Home Doctor" also recommended vinegar as a paint fume deterrent.

2 Supplements

Exposure to environmental toxins, such as paint fumes, causes inflammation, according to author Chrystle Fiedler in "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Natural Remedies." She suggests supplementation of antioxidants A, C, E and beta carotene along with a mineral supplement. Taking quercetin supplements, or obtaining natural quercetin in red grapes, red onions or green tea, may lessen inflammation due to an asthmatic-like allergic response.

Phyllis Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," recommends charcoal tablets, magnesium and vitamin B6 about an hour before exposure to paint fumes to alleviate nausea symptoms.

Consult with your doctor before taking supplements.

3 Food

Eating a light meal before exposure to paint fumes may help avoid headaches, according to author Myra Cameron in "A Treasury of Home Remedies." Paint fumes may bring on a headache or nausea when your blood sugar is low.

4 Onions

In "Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks: 5,000 Ingenious Kitchen Hints" author David Joachim recommends cutting a raw onion in half. Leave the onion, cut side up, on a plate in a painted room. Paint fumes are absorbed overnight, according to Joachim.

5 Baking Soda

Open boxes of baking soda, or soda mixed with water and sprayed into the air, help remove noxious odors like paint fumes, according to "Joey Green's Amazing Kitchen Cures." He recommends adding two cups of baking soda to 16 ounces of water to a spray bottle.

Laura Lemay started writing in 1996. She has published articles on Luxist, Paw Nation, StyleList, Gadling, Urlesque, Asylum, BloggingStocks and other websites. Lemay also worked at "Ladies Home Journal" and "Institutional Investor." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Smith College and a Master of Arts in education from Virginia Tech.