How to Get Rid of Wood Stain Smell? 5 Easy Methods

If you are familiar with wood stain, you know it smells really bad after you applied it. The problem is it can take a while to go away on its own. So you might ask yourself if there’s a way to get rid of wood stain smell quicker.

Luckily for you, there are many ways to remove wood stain smell, or at least make it go away faster. Here are the methods we are going to talk about, in short:

  • Use a product to absorb the smell, such as baking soda or activated charcoal;
  • Keep the air moving to make the stain odor go away. Use a fan or ventilate the room you are in;
  • Use an air purifier to clean the air from stain fumes.

Alright, let’s get to it.

How to Get Rid of Wood Stain Smell – 5 Easy Methods

1) Baking Soda

Maybe you already know that baking soda is commonly used to get rid of bad smells. I usually put a small layer at the bottom of the trash can and it helps against bad odors. The same thing can be done with stain smell.

In order to optimize odor absorption, the contact surface between the stain fumes and the soda should be as large as possible. Therefore, baking soda should be spread in a flat, thin layer. To avoid making a mess, use a large, flat container.

It should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t utilize baking soda that you used for getting rid of stain smell for cooking. Baking soda basically captures the odors, so it would transfer them to your food, altering its taste. It probably would also contaminate it with any toxic chemical released by the stain. The best thing to do is properly dispose of the baking soda after you used it.

2) Activated Charcoal

This type of charcoal has many little pores that can absorb any chemical. Thanks to its properties, it has many industrial, medical, agricultural applications, just to name a few. For example, it’s used for soap making. It can also be taken by mouth to help against poisoning or for teeth whitening. In our case, it’s perfect against wood stain smell.

Same as with baking soda, place the charcoal near the stained project and leave it at least overnight. Activated charcoal is sold in different forms: powder, small bricks, little bags, pills, etc. For our purposes, it’s best to use it in powder form, such as this 100% Activated Organic Charcoal. Again, put a thin layer of it in a flat container to maximize the contact area. When the smell is gone, dispose of the charcoal properly.

3) Purify the Air

Another option you have to eliminate stain smell is using an air purifier. They utilize an activated carbon filter that absorbs odors and fumes, making the quality of the air better. They are perfect against basically all bad smells that develop around the house, for example when cooking.

“Air Purifier” by bfishadow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In our case, simply place it in the same room as the stained project and let it work for at least a couple of days. It might require up to a week to get any noticeable difference. It depends on many factors such as room temperature and airflow level. After a couple of weeks, much of the smell should be gone.

If you don’t own one, consider using some activated charcoal instead. It uses the same principle. Alternatively, it might be a good occasion to get an air purifier for your home.

In any case, using a combination of methods is always a good idea.

4) Ventilate the Room

This is the most common solution. Open all the windows of your room to let clean air in and the stain smell out. Make sure the air flows correctly so that it doesn’t go to the other rooms of your house. In fact, you should keep doors communicating with the inside your house closed.

Ventilating your workplace will also help the stain to dry faster. If you can’t ventilate your shop, consider working outdoor if you can. It will make dealing with stain smell way easier.

5) Use a Fan

Maybe you can’t ventilate your working area naturally, for example when working in your basement or a room without windows. In that case, consider using a fan or multiple ones. It surely isn’t as effective as the earlier method, but at least it will keep the air moving, making the stain dry faster.

Fans can also be used in combination with the earlier method: using a fan while ventilating the room will increment airflow. Place them in a way that helps the odor go out. Make them follow the airflow: a good idea is to place them near the windows.

Same as before, keep any door communicating with the indoor closed to prevent the smell from spreading in your house.

FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions]

Here you have some of the most common questions about wood stain smell, and their answer.

How long does it take for wood stain smell to go away?

can you stain acacia wood?
“After wood stain” by drooooo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wood stain doesn’t take that long to dry. After you applied it, it takes 20-30 minutes for the wood to absorb it. Then, you can wipe off the excess with a rug. After that, it will take a little longer before you can move on to the next step of your project. As far as the smell, it seems to take forever for it to go away.

On average, it could take up to a couple of weeks for the wood stain odor to go away. It’s hard to give a definitive answer. There are many factors to keep into consideration, such as:

  • Room temperature and conditions. In hot and dry conditions, stain will dry faster and consequently the smell will go away sooner. Room conditions are also key. If you can keep a good airflow going all the time, the stain odor will take less to go away. Keep the windows open, maybe while directing a fan over your project, if you can.
  • Type of product used and the number of layers/ stain quantity applied. Water-based products’ smell takes less time than the oil counterpart to go away. If you applied many layers of stain, it will take longer to dry and also for the smell to leave.

How to get rid of Minwax stain smell?

Minwax is renowned for producing a variety of wood products such as wood stains and finishes.

In case you used some Minwax wood stain and you are trying to make the smell go away faster, the steps you need to follow are the same I outlined before. You either need to use something that can absorb the odor such as baking soda or activated charcoal, or increase airflow by opening the windows / using a fan. You could also try using a combination of multiple methods.

Is wood stain smell dangerous?

To be entirely correct, it’s the stain fumes that produce the nasty odor that are dangerous, rather than the smell itself. To answer the question, I’d say yes. Stain contains toxic chemicals that transform into VOCs (volatile organic compounds) when stain dries. The level of toxicity depends on the type of stain you are dealing with, which can be either oil or water-based. Oil-based stains are more toxic. The fumes might cause nausea, headaches, breathing problems, and so on. On the other hand, water-based stains tend to be less toxic, since they release fewer VOCs.

Both oil and water-based stains are dangerous and you should take all safety precautions needed when dealing with them. Always use gloves when applying stain, and a face mask/respirator.

Final Thoughts

Staining is a great method to change the wood’s color while bringing out the wood pattern. It can help you disguise a certain quality of wood to make it look like another, for example to match existing furniture. Applying it requires some care: for example, in order to avoid the classic blotchy look, you should apply a pre-stain wood conditioner.

Another problem is the awful smells that develop after applying the product to the wood. In this case, there’s no solution to prevent it. As we mentioned in the article, some products help absorb the odor, such as baking soda and activated charcoal. Another solution to get the smell to go away quicker is by ventilating the room.

In any case, arm yourself with patience: although there are some methods to make the process faster, stain smell will nonetheless take some time to completely disappear.

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