How Long Does Kilz Smell Last?

Why does Kilz have a strong smell that seems to linger forever? Whether you’re a new user of the product or have been applying it for years, we’ve all had that thought. 

If you’ve just rolled some over a wall or other surface in your home, you may wonder how long you’ll have to tolerate the stench.

On average, Kilz paints and primers will smell for about 48 hours post-application. During this period, you should remember to leave the area adequately ventilated, which will help dissipate the scent.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take it lying down. Below we detail why Kilz primer and paint odors are so strong and what else you can do to eliminate them.

What Does Kilz Smell Like?

If you’re asking this question, it’s safe to assume you’ve yet to try the product for yourself. It’s quite an unforgettable smell. Like every other chemical-based solution, Kilz primer has quite a strong odor when fresh.

While in the can, it doesn’t smell much. But once you open the can, oil-based Kilz primers emits a pungent odor like gasoline. Fortunately, the smell will dissipate, and the product will actually seal in other odors.

Kilz and paint brushes

Why Does Kilz Smell So Bad?

You would think having a perfectly primed wall is enough to forget about the pungent odor that comes with Kilz. But if we’re honest, it still sucks to take in that odor for several days after application.

The pungent smell Kilz gives off after use on the wall results from volatile organic compounds, commonly called VOCs, which constitute one of the product’s ingredients. They are much like ingredients used in other oil-based paint products.

Is There an Odorless Kilz?

We can’t blame you if you’re looking for better-smelling options. The Kilz brand doesn’t blame you, either—they’ve actually produced a version of their product that doesn’t smell as much.

Kilz Original Low Odor oil-based primer is as good as every other Kilz primer but without the lingering odor. It is an excellent interior stain blocker that promotes adhesion and won’t make your bedroom, living room, or other household space a temporary nightmare.

Further, the product doesn’t compromise quality. It is fast drying, efficient at sealing, and will not require you to stay away from it to avoid the smell.

What Happens If You Inhale Kilz?

man applying based primer on old concrete wall

While it is advised to avoid inhaling Kilz, it is sometimes unavoidable while working. 

When you inhale Kilz, you may experience drowsiness and headaches. Prolonged exposure to this product could lead to long-term health complications like asthma and other respiratory problems.

Likewise, ingesting the substance may cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. So, take precautions by wearing a face mask when using the primer. Keep this product out of the reach of kids and pets, as they may accidentally ingest it.

How Long Do Kilz Fumes Last?

Whenever you apply Kilz primer, the chemicals that cause the smell will need some time to evaporate. 

These fumes typically take about 2 to 3 days to go away entirely. This is also the period of time that the product requires in order to dry and cure completely. 

In the meantime, consider sleeping in another room of the house. If you’re especially sensitive to these fumes, head over to a friend’s or family member’s house for a few days while the product cures.

How Do You Get Rid of Kilz Fumes?

painter paints the outer wall of the building with a gray paint roller

We’re all about solutions. Leaving your home or using another room may not be possible. So it’s wise to have backup plans for reducing the fumes that Kilz products emit.

To get rid of Kilz fumes, use household items such as fans and scented candles. Materials like baking soda, white vinegar, and charcoal can also help to absorb these fumes. 

These household items are both affordable and widely available, making them perfect DIY materials. It shouldn’t hurt to try them out. Refer to the section below for more details on how to use these pantry products effectively.

White Vinegar

Vinegar, known as acetic acid, also smells pretty strong up close. But it still doesn’t smell as bad as Kilz oil-based paint fumes and other Kilz restoration products. 

A fantastic hack is to place white vinegar into bowls or vials in different parts of the room. If using vials, make sure to leave them; if using bowls, leave them uncovered.

The vinegar will absorb the smell of the paint or primer around the room, leaving a much more neutral scent.


That leftover charcoal from your last barbecue will also eliminate Kilz fumes. Charcoal is also a natural absorber of smells, so it will take in any fumes and leave the room smelling neutral again. All you need to do is get lumps of charcoal and store them in different areas of the room.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is every DIYer’s favorite cleaning solution. It is also effective for removing Kilz products’ smells from your living spaces. Like every good DIY material, it is affordable and easily accessible. When the job is done, you can always easily sweep it out.

Regardless of which household hack you try, proper ventilation will go a long way in making sure the product is the most effective it can be.

long handle roller brush applying primer white paint on cement wall


We can’t overemphasize the importance of primers like those by Kilz in DIY painting. From its powerful stain-blocking attribute to sealing odors, this brand is the top choice for both DIYers and professionals. 

Despite its redeeming qualities, Kilz products’ smell is troubling for most users. The scent is unavoidable, but you can make it bearable by using face masks or household cleaning products.

Better still, ventilate the room and avoid it for 24 to 48 hours after painting. Adopting this cheap and easy method gives you the best of both worlds—it’s a win-win for everybody.