Knowing how to get rid of wood stain smell can help you eliminate unrelenting wood stain odor. In addition, this knowledge gives you the confidence to apply wood stains to your wooden surfaces because you can prevent the stain smell from drowning your house.

Applying wood stains is a timeless way to protect the wood from daily wear and tear and at the same time enhance the beautiful natural wood grain. But, some of these wood stains can emit a sickening odor.

That’s why I have confidently put together some tried-and-tested methods to help you restore fresh air in the house. This is knowledge from countless research and experiments.

Read on to find out the details.

How To Get Rid Of Wood Stain Smell

  1. Begin by opening windows to allow fresh air into the house.
  2. Next, switch on table fans, exhaust fans, and overhead fans to encourage air circulation.
  3. You may also want to absorb the wood stain odors using baking soda, activated charcoal, lemon, and white vinegar. Place them in small containers and distribute them around the newly stained wood.
  4. If that isn’t enough, apply a coat of encapsulating sealer or remove the stain altogether.

What You Will Need

The Methods To Get Rid Of Wood Stain Smells

If you haven’t experienced this other side of wood stains, you’re in luck: you’ll approach it better prepared. But if you have, you know exactly how unbearable it can get.

In most cases, l have had to use more than one method to speed up the banishing of toxic smells. Chances are, so will you.

The perks of using these methods are that they are affordable and, in most cases, readily available. But, whatever you do, please wear a respirator and goggles to protect yourself from these harmful odors.

So stay on here to find out the simple and even drastic measures you can take in critical situations.


This should be the first thing you do: open windows in your work area to allow proper ventilation while applying the stain and even after the application process.

Open all the windows and doors to allow cross-air circulation in your house and drive out the smelly air. Do your best to keep your home ventilated while the wood stain cures.

Ensure adequate ventilation in the newly stained area for at least eight hours after the stain application. Although ventilating your home may not eliminate the wood stain odor, it helps lessen its intensity.

The amount of time the wood stain will take to dry depends on the type of wood stain, the wood itself, and the number of coats applied. This factor also affects how long the wood stain smell will linger around. Here is how to get wood stain to dry faster.

Ventilate using fans

Another inexpensive way to get rid of annoying wood stain odors is to switch on fans. Make use of standing fans and or exhaust fans as well as ceiling fans.

Place the standing fans at strategic positions to blow out the toxic fumes from your odor-filled space. For example, you can place one fan facing the opened window and another facing the room entrance: to blow the fumes out through every opening available.

You can also utilize ceiling fans if they are in a specific room filled with wood stain odor. They will aid in the process of getting rid of unbearable stain fumes by providing excellent air circulation.

In addition, you can turn your air conditioner into fan mode to help boost air circulation in the room filled with the wood stain smell.

Read: Can polyurethane fumes kill you?

Ventilate using air purifiers

If you already have this in your home, it is a handy tool to help eliminate wood stain fumes. If you don’t have it yet, you can buy an air purifier that uses charcoal or a HEPA filter.

Typically, air purifiers are used for absorbing cigarette or fireplace smoke odors, among other household odors. It’s an excellent tool to purify the unpleasant odors emitted by wood stains and restore fresh air.

You can also opt for the best woodshop air filtration system.

Apply Coat Encapsulating Sealer

If for some reason ventilating the house hasn’t entirely removed the strong smell, you can consider applying a coat of encapsulating sealer. This is a viable option since such sealers don’t contain a noxious solvent or toxic chemicals.

You only need to apply one layer of the encapsulating sealer before staining your wooden item. This, in turn, keeps the strong wood stain odor at a significantly low or even makes it entirely non-existent.

Interesting Post: How to Remove Oil Based Stain From Wood

Natural Remedies

You can never have too many options to eliminate the toxic wood stain odor from your house. Therefore, these natural remedies will go a long way in absorbing strong wood stain odors: leave them around your stained area overnight.

Place these bowls around the stained area and let them work overnight.

Use activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is another natural remedy to help tackle the strong wood stain smells. Activated charcoal is extra dry and is often used in air purifiers. This makes it an excellent option to absorb odors quickly.

Put them in several small containers and place them close to the newly stained wood furniture or wood floors. Let them sit for a few hours or overnight. You can replace them from time to time until the pungent smell dissipates.

You can buy activated charcoal from most drug stores or pet supply stores.

Use lemons

This is one of the easiest and cheapest methods you can use to absorb strong odors from a newly stained area. The lemon and water combination will help absorb odors quickly.

Grab some lemon from your fridge or fruit bowl and slice it. Next, fill a small bowl with water and place the sliced lemon in the bowl. You can make several of these lemon water bowls for better performance.

Use baking soda

Here is another natural absorbent material you can use to reduce the strong smell of wood stains from your house. This should be somewhere in your pantry or any local store.

You only need to put some baking soda in a shallow bowl and place them around the place with a pungent smell. Whether you put it in a bowl or leave it in the box, what matters is that it’s open to absorb odors.

Use vinegar

White vinegar is equally an excellent remedy to eliminate wood stain odors. Pour the white vinegar into a small container and space them around the problem area in the house.

The vinegar smell might be slightly sharp, but it doesn’t compare to the wood stain smell. The vinegar smell will fade away in a few hours, and the wood stains smell will have significantly reduced.

Replace the vinegar in the containers frequently for continued odor absorption.

Remove the stain

I know this option sounds drastic, but you may want to consider it if the wood stains odor poses serious health problems to you or your family members. Of course, you want to be in a beautiful space, but it also has to be a safe environment.

I’ve put this method last because it’s pretty expensive, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. In any case, opt for this method if the previous methods haven’t quite gotten the job done.

Also, do this if you are not in a position to leave your home while the wood stain cures.

For more detailed insights, take a look at our guide on fixing blotchy stain and related issues.

What Causes the Wood Stain Smell?

Wood stains are made of three main components; pigments or colorant dye, solvents, and binders. The solvents are extracted from petroleum products during the refining procedure.

When these solvents are mixed with other chemicals, it gives the wood stain its strength and durability. The caveat to this is, once these chemicals and solvents get exposed to oxygen, they produce toxic compounds responsible for the pungent odor.

Additionally, if you have a garden bed, here is a guide link on using wood stain in vegetable garden.

How To Avoid Toxic Wood Stain Smell

If you can prevent the wood stain smell in the first place, by all means, prevent it. An excellent place to start is to avoid wood stains with high Volatile Organic Chemical (VOCs): these emit toxic fumes.

Where possible, opt for water-based or odorless wood stains. They contain low VOCs or ultra-low VOCs and are also more eco-friendly: guaranteed not to hurt harm anyone in the household.

Staining wood outdoors is another step you can take to prevent strong wood stain smells. Of course, this applies to staining wood furniture and other mobile items. Otherwise, open all windows, use table fans, ceiling, and exhaust fans to blow out the strong odors through the open window.

Remember to dispose of wood stains, paintbrushes, or rags used to apply the stain. Proper disposal reduces the chances of more smelly air filling the house.

An equally important tip: use the correct type of wood stain for exterior and interior projects. Avoid using stains meant for exterior projects such as cedar siding on interior projects. The wood stain container will have this information: adhere to it.

Wood Stain Odor FAQs

Is the smell of wood stain harmful?

Yes, wood stain smell is harmful to human health. It can pose serious health problems such as allergies, dizziness, and even respiratory issues. Use proper protection when exposed to these poisonous wood stains.

Will vinegar get rid of the wood stain smell?

Distilled white vinegar will help reduce the intensity of the wood stain smell. Put the white vinegar into a shallow bowl(s) and place them around the stained room. The sharp vinegar smell will fade away after a few hours, and eventually, the strong wood stain smells will dissipate as well.

Is there a wood stain that doesn’t smell?

Yes, there’re wood stains that don’t smell. These can be found in water-based formulas, which are odorless and non-toxic. In addition, they mainly have ultra-low volatile organic compounds: making them more eco-friendly.

How long does wood stain smell last?

Wood stain smell can last anywhere between 24 hours and 48 hours or even more, depending on the solvent type used in the stain. The water-based stain smell is barely noticeable. But an oil-based stain could take a few days to clear. Ensure cross-air movement for the indoor stain order.

Also Read: How Long Does Wood Stain Last?

How long do you leave a stain on before you wipe it off?

The amount of time you let the stain on depends on the stain color tone you want. Wipe the stain off as soon as you finish applying a liberal coat to get a lighter stain tone. If you aim for a darker color tone, you can wipe the excess stain after five to ten minutes.

How long does it take for the wood stain to cure?

Most wood stains take between 24-48 hours for a coat to dry completely and cure. If you plan to apply more than one coat of wood stain, keep in mind that each separate coat needs at least a couple of days to cure thoroughly.

Does water-based wood stain smell?

A good number of water-based wood stains are said to be odor-free. What this means is, they contain a non-toxic smell and fumes, unlike oil-based stains. So opt for these types when choosing a wood stain.

How do you get the wood smell out of furniture?

Build-up dirt, germs, and bacteria can seep into the wood grain pores and create an unpleasant smell.

To reverse this effect, clean your furniture thoroughly using a sponge soaked in disinfectant water. Next, use a soft sponge with vinegar to go over the entire furniture. Finally, allow it to dry in a well-ventilated space.

See Also: How do you Get Wood Stain off your Hands

What happens if you inhale wood stain?

If you inhale wood stains, you are bound to experience respiratory issues such as difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, headaches, confusion, or even collapsing.

Prolonged exposure to these toxic fumes could result in brain damage or even death. If you suspect this amount of exposure, call 9-1-1 ASAP.

What next?

Now that we’ve gone through these methods of how to get rid of wood stain smell, you can go ahead and banish those toxic wood stain fumes from your house.

It all comes down to two major classes: ventilate your stained area and use absorption materials to speed up the process of removing stain smell. When it comes to DIY projects, anything goes. If you think it’s worth trying, then it’s worth trying.

Are there other ways you have used to get rid of the wood stain smell from your stained area? Please let me know in the comments section below.

If you’re working with poly, don’t forget to check our post on “how to get rid of the smell of polyurethane

Good luck with your project.