How to Remove a Turpentine Smell

By Nicole Fotheringham
Turpentine is a popular paint thinner with fine artists.

Turpentine is distilled from pine trees and is used when painting to thin oil-based paints and to clean brushes. It has a pungent smell that can be cloying when turpentine spills occur. Turpentine is especially favored among artists as it has a long drying time and provides oil paintings with a high-quality sheen. Petroleum solvents are cheaper, but they evaporate quickly and may result in filming. Turpentine is highly toxic and flammable. Always wear protective clothing when working with turpentine. Should a turpentine spill occur, there are several things you can do to remove the odor.

Air a room where turpentine has been spilled on the floor or carpet. Sop up the excess with paper towels and let the area dry. Clean the floor with soapy water. If the spill is on a carpet, sprinkle baking soda, a powder carpet freshener or kitty litter over the turpentine. This should soak up extra liquid and neutralize the smell. Vacuum the carpet after a few hours.

Get rid of turpentine smell in washing machines. This occurs when clothing containing turpentine has been washed in the machine. Place 1 tsp. of bicarb or 1 tsp. of vinegar in the soap dispenser and set the machine to a hot wash.

Use zeolite, a natural odor remover that you can buy from health stores, to eliminate turpentine smell. Sprinkle zeolite granules or powder directly on the affected area. Allow some time for it to absorb the odor. Vacuum up the powder or granules after a couple of hours.

Warning

Turpentine is a highly toxic substance that can cause irritation when it comes into contact with skin and eyes. It can cause respiratory problems and can lead to severe health problems with prolonged exposure. Always wear protective clothing when handling turpentine. Rinse exposed skin with soapy water. Contact a medical professional if any adverse symptoms appear after using turpentine.

About the Author

Nicole Fotheringham has been a writer since 1997. She was born in South Africa and began as a reporter for the "Natal Mercury" and "Cape Argus" newspapers. Fotheringham has a master's degree in English literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.