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Does your Valspar paint smell of cat urine?

Painting and redecorating

Fresh paint has a very distinct smell. For me, it’s far too clinical. In fact, I hate the smell. But what would you do if your freshly painted home suddenly started to smell of cat urine, or even rotting animals…

When I was decorating my home last year I did my very best to get rid of the paint smell by opening all the windows and getting my hands on every scented candle/reed diffuser possible to try and get those freshly painted rooms to smell of anything but paint. It still smelt too clinical to me.

But I know of other people who like that smell – my other half, for example, thought our freshly painted house smelt ‘fresh’ and ‘clean’.

This, however, has certainly not been the case for the unlucky purchasers of certain batches of Valspar paint from B&Q.

Valspar paint

Those who’ve had the misfortune of decorating with Valspar paint purchased from B&Q earlier this year didn’t find their home smelling clinical, fresh or even clean.

No, their homes started to ooze a lovely waft of what some have described as a cat urine-like smell or even rotting animals – one person even described the smell as like a ‘dead soggy mouse’.

In a bid to source the culprit of the bad odour some resorted to gutting the newly decorated rooms, bleaching carpets, washing everything and even paying a trader to take a look before realising it was the paint.

It transpired that the manufacturers of Valspar had removed a preservative from the paint, which had left the paint emitting an ‘ammonia-type odour’. Experts have noted that the culprit is likely to be a bacterial contamination.

Interestingly, recent changes in EU law, which restricts the types of preservatives that paint manufacturers can use, mean we could see this happen again.

Paint problems

But what would you do if this happened to you? What if a redecoration project left your home smelling of Eau de dead mouse?

A number of Which? members have contacted Which? Legal about this smelly paint problem. Our Legal team have explained that:

‘When a consumer purchases a product such as a tin of paint from a business seller the consumer can rely upon the rights outlined in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This legislation applies to contracts entered into on or after 1st October 2015. Paint, such as Valspar, must be of a satisfactory quality which means that, amongst other things, it must be fit for purpose. Even though Valspar may cover a surface as paint should do, it is unsatisfactory if it is foul-smelling. This would allow the buyer to seek a full refund and claim consequential loss, such as a decorator’s labour charge if the paint has been applied to a wall.’

So, what would you do? Have you bought some of this bad-smelling paint? Has something similar happened to you?


Never had that happen, but I have noticed that gloss paints no longer smell they way they used to. I assumed that was because solvents have been phased out.


I have only used Valspar paint in an outdoor application and was unaware of any unpleasant odour. I was not over-impressed by the paint at its high price but I was after a particular colour and with only a B&Q in our nearest town I could only get the colour in a Valspar gloss paint. Through a trade source I have since discovered a specialist decorators’ merchant that can match-mix other brands.

Soggy Mouse sounds like the sort of name another well-known brand of high-priced paint might use for its snob-laden coatings.


Modern paints are now water based – much easier to clean your brushes as well as for the environment.


Easier to clean brushes but water-based paints need potentially harmful chemicals as preservatives.


If your paint was “omitting an ammonia-type odour” that would be a good thing. On the other hand “emitting…..” is a bad thing. EIEIO just a typo. There’s always one 🙂


Updated, thanks Malcolm


“Interestingly, recent changes in EU law, which restricts the types of preservatives that paint manufacturers can use, mean we could see this happen again.”

: (


Preservatives will either kill or inhibit the growth of bugs. Many of these products are also potentially harmful to humans and wildlife, hence the restrictions in their use. I don’t know which preservatives have been phased out by the EU but there is probably a very good reason.


There could be more restrictions on preservatives – often referred to as biocides – used in water-based paints. Maybe we should thank rather than criticise the EU for wanting to get rid of carcinogenic and reprotoxic chemicals from paints. https://chemicalwatch.com/51520/paint-manufacturers-struggle-with-lack-of-approved-preservatives