Why You Should Never Add Essential Oils to Latex Paint

published Aug 16, 2019
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Have you seen the “helpful tip” floating around social media that says you should add essential oils to your can of latex paint to trade paint smell for, say, peppermint? You can file that under “just because you see it on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not an essential oils hater. I put drops of lavender oil in everything from linen spray to bowls of vinegar that I set out when I need to remove an odor in our two-dog household. But sometimes there’s not only no need to use the stuff, it’s an actual bad idea. 

Anytime I have a paint question, I go to our painter and contractor, Nailed It Contracting’s Sam Ross, who’s worked on nearly every surface of our Victorian home. He had a very succinct response when I asked him what he thought about putting essential oils in paint. “They’re probably voiding the manufacturer’s warranty,” he said. Your paint can likely says something along the lines of, “If used according to label directions.”

“Besides, there’s no need. It’s 2019,” Ross added. Latex paint has come a long way regarding fumes, he explained. While oil-based paint still has a heavy, lingering odor, quality latex paint does not. I can vouch for that: Ross painted my bedroom recently, and I planned to sleep in the guest room because of “the fumes” (something I think we’re all just conditioned to expect). He finished in the late afternoon, and by bedtime, I had a beautiful new color and zero smell.

The best, most natural route for minimizing paint odors? Open a window.