How to Get Rid of Polyurethane Smell From Floors (5 Methods)

how to get rid of polyurethane smell from floors

Your new hardwood floor is being laid, and you are overjoyed about this home renovation project. In your excitement, you might not remember that the smell of polyurethane is one of the unavoidable side effects of working hardwood floors.

This agonizing smell of polyurethane can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and even headaches. This is exactly why we are interested in how to get rid of polyurethane smell from floors.

Sometimes an unorthodox method like putting a slice of onions in a saucer of water can effectively eliminate polyurethane smells.

Read on as we explore other methods of getting rid of polyurethane smell from floors.

How to Get Rid of Polyurethane Smell from Floors

1. The Onion Method

This method might seem a bit contradictory since onion is not exactly known for having a pleasant scent. But many homeowners have attested that onion is effective in getting rid of polyurethane smells.

All you have to do is peel and slice one onion, then place it in a saucer of water. Put this saucer in a room where you can smell polyurethane, and it will absorb the strong odor.

2. Open the Windows

This is quite obvious, right? To make the smell of polyurethane leave a room faster, you need to ensure that the room in question has adequate ventilation.

To increase ventilation, open all of your windows and turn on the fans. Keep the windows open and the fans running until you can’t smell the polyurethane any longer.

3. Make Use of An Air Purifier

Using an air purifier will help you swiftly eliminate the smell of polyurethane. These devices filter impurities from the air, ensuring that indoor air is free of hazardous particles. Some models can even detoxify the entire house.

If you only want to use the air purifier to remove the smell of polyurethane from your home, rent a large unit that will remove the stench from the entire house. Follow the product’s instructions to eradicate the stink and replace it with fresh, clean air.

You should probably get the Modify MA-112 Air Purifier to get the job done. This air purifier has dual HEPA h13 filtration that can remove 99.9% of pollutants down to 0.1 microns in size, including smells, smoke, pet dander, dust, and more.

Read: Should humidifier be on the floor

4. Make Use of a Box Fan

Install a box fan in each window in your home and leave it running all day. This will help to enhance airflow and remove odorous molecules from your home, allowing you to breathe fresh air once more.

5. Crank Up the Temperature

You can speed up the process of dissipation of the polyurethane odor by raising the temperature in the rooms.

Check the weather forecast because if the temperature drops below 50°F at night, you’ll need to turn up the heat in the rooms with the unpleasant odor to keep the temperature stable and the scent from returning.

How Long Does it Take for Polyurethane Smell to Go Away?

After installing polyurethane and other building materials in your home, you may be wondering how long it takes for the polyurethane smell to go away.

After applying polyurethane to a substantial area of your home’s floor, the polyurethane can take up to 5 to 7 days to cure. After 5-7 days, the majority of the polyurethane should be dry on the surface and safe to live on.

The scents produced by polyurethane finishing in a home, on the other hand, can remain for months in some circumstances.

Due to the chemicals produced from the wood finishing long after its original application, the polyurethane will off-gas for a longer period.

As a result, you will need to incorporate some of the methods discussed in this post to tackle polyurethane odor.

Note that the time it takes for polyurethane smell to go away also depends on the type of polyurethane finish used. For instance, oil-based polyurethane has a longer dry and cure time than water-based polyurethane.

It follows that it will take longer for the smell of oil-based polyurethane to fade off, especially when compared to water-based polyurethane that dries up with minimal ventilation.

Related: How to clean oiled wood floor

Can the Smell of Polyurethane Hurt You?

Yes, it can. Polyurethane contains isocyanates, a chemical that might potentially injure your lungs if inhaled or ingested. Isocyanates are the raw ingredients used to create all polyurethane products.

This chemical is a known carcinogen that can cause skin and mucous membrane irritation, chest constriction, and difficulty breathing.

Along with isocyanates, other dangerous pollutants such as VOCs can be found in the polyurethane used on wood floors, which can become airborne and cause health problems.

When the finishing product is wet, and as it cures inside the indoor space, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) evaporate into the air – these VOCs can include xylene, ethylbenzene, and acetates.

As these VOCs become airborne, the process of off-gassing begins in the environment for an unknown period, affecting air quality and the health of persons exposed to these off-gassed VOCs.

Can Polyurethane Fumes Kill You?

Not necessarily. While polyurethane contains isocyanates which are known respiratory irritants, they cannot kill you.

If you inhale polyurethane fumes for a long time, it can cause breathing difficulties such as asthma. The fumes created by oil-based polyurethane are not good for you.

Read: How to fix uneven polyurethane finish on floor


With this post on how to get rid of polyurethane smell from floors, you are now armed with both conventional and unconventional ways to get rid of polyurethane smell.

There is no hard and fast rule to these methods provided in this post. So, feel free to combine all the methods outlined in this post.

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