How to Clear Lungs of Spray Paint ( 10 Science-Backed Methods)


Last updated: March 24, 2023

Effective methods to clear your lungs of spray paints and remove spray paint fumes.

Lungs on x-ray with fumes to show how to clear lungs of spray paint

Accidentally inhaling spray paint fumes can happen to anyone, even professional painters.

It’s even worse when the fumes get stuck in your lungs because they contain toxic chemicals that can cause irritation and severe damage.

In this post, we will show you how to get rid of spray paint in lungs, so you can protect yourself and others when spray painting.

How To Clear Lungs Of Spray Paint

The best way to clear your lungs of spray paint is to inhale steam. This will clear your airways and reduce breathing difficulties. Other methods include ventilating the area, performing chest percussion, and using an air purifier. Coughing and drinking green tea can also provide some relief.

How To Clear Lungs Of Spray Paint

The best way to clear your lungs of spray paint is to inhale steam. This will clear your airways and reduce breathing difficulties. Other methods include ventilating the area, performing chest percussion, and using an air purifier. Coughing and drinking green tea can also provide some relief.

What Happens If You Inhale Spray Paint?

Inhaling spray paint vapors can lead to several health conditions and cause damage to your lungs. The most common symptom is coughing. Other short-term effects you may experience include:-

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat

  • Visual impairment

  • Temporary memory loss

  • Vomiting

  • Wheezing

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

The impact of some symptoms may be more severe than others. Likewise, long-term exposure may result in more serious problems, affecting the lungs, kidneys, and other vital organs. 

If you experience any of these symptoms after you inhaled spray paint, seek medical attention ASAP. Before then, follow the methods discussed in this article to clear spray paint from your lungs. 

How Harmful Are Spray Paint Fumes For Your Lung?

Spray paint fumes can potentially damage your lungs. And that is because of the different solvents and chemicals in them. These solvents and paints contain various volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are dangerous to human health.

The primary purpose of VOCs is to transfer the paint from the can to the surface and maintain consistency in the flow of the paint. They are released into the air together with the paint fumes.

Common examples include toluene, benzene, acetone, xylene, formaldehyde, and ethylene glycol. Studies show that inhaling these compounds can negatively impact health and may result in a range of problems.

Not all VOCs cause the same level of damage in the same amount, as there are different types of spray paints.

The toxicity of any of these fumes depends on the type of paint and how long you’re exposed to the fumes. For instance, oil-based spray paint with alcohol as VOC in large amounts will not be as dangerous as one with the same amount of acetone.

Generally, water-based or acrylic spray paints have fewer VOCs than oil-based spray paints, so they are not likely to cause health problems.

Whenever possible, opt for spray paints with lower VOC levels, even if it’s an oil-based product. And even if you end up using one with higher VOCs, take proper precautions and ensure a lot of ventilation.

How To Clear Lungs of Spray Paint

If you accidentally breathe in spray paint, don’t panic! Follow any of the suggestions below to get rid of it. 

Do Steam Therapy

Also known as steam inhalation, steam therapy is the process of inhaling steam vapor to open the respiratory tract. The idea is to remove any obstruction (such as mucus) in the airways.

This procedure is commonly used on asthma patients as well as people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). It is also effective for removing paint droplets in the nose and lungs. You can either use a steam mask/inhaler, or you can use hot water. The steps are as follows:

  • Boil some water in a pot. Pour it into a bowl and fill it halfway.

  • Get a large towel or blanket. Use it to cover yourself completely.

  • Then place the bowl of hot water inside the blanket or towel.

  • Next, position your head about 10-inches away from the steamy water. 

  • Shut your eyes and start inhaling the steam. Stay in this position for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Coughing is one way the body flushes out toxins and other foreign particles that get stuck in mucus.

Cough Gently

In our case, we will use controlled coughing to help clear the lungs out of spray paint. This is otherwise known as “controlled coughing.” The process helps to loosen mucus from the lungs, so it can be pushed upwards through the airways. The steps are described as follows:

  • Get a comfortable chair or stool and sit on it. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and keep your shoulders relaxed. 

  • Place your arms across your stomach and inhale slowly. 

  • Then exhale slowly and lean forward with your arms pressing into your stomach. 

  • Cough 2-3 times with your mouth slightly open. 

  • Inhale slowly again and repeat the steps. 

Perform Chest Percussion

Doing chest percussion is another way to clear your lungs of spray paint. This method is particularly effective for removing mucus accumulated in the lung. 

Here, you will need to see a respiratory therapist to perform the procedure. Usually, the therapist will use a cupped hand to tap rhythmically across your chest wall. This helps to loosen up any mucus that may have accumulated in the lungs.

The procedure can be combined with postural drainage to reduce inflammation and clear the airways of mucus.

This method is also seen as a form of exercise. So for people with any breathing problem, it’s recommended you see your physician first before moving forward with it. 

Drink Green Tea

If you’re the type that paints often, then drinking green tea is something you should do daily. Green tea is extremely rich in antioxidants, which makes it effective in reducing inflammation in the body and lungs.

So consuming it daily will lower your risk of developing asthma and other lung diseases that may arise from smoking or inhaling spray paint and other pollutants.

Besides reducing inflammation, green tea provides other benefits. 

Studies show that people who drink at least 2 cups of green tea daily are likely to have higher oxygen levels than those who do not consume the tea. It has also been discovered that green tea can help lower the risk of developing COPD.

The tea is fairly simple to make. Just boil some water and allow it to cool till it’s lukewarm. This can take a few minutes. Add the tea bag and leave it for about 2 to 3 minutes or enough time to release its delicious aroma. After then, you can remove the teabag and start drinking your tea.

If you’re drinking green tea for its benefits, it’s better not to add milk. But generally, milk will not make your tea ineffective, so it’s not a bad move. If you decide to add milk, use soy milk instead of cow milk. 

Take a Deep Breath

Deep breathing may sound simple, but it’s therapeutic and can help remove toxins from the body by stimulating the lymphatic system. This makes it one of the easiest ways of removing spray paint from the lungs. Other benefits include combating stress, pain, anxiety, and even high blood pressure. 

The steps are listed below: 

  • Find somewhere comfortable outside or stay on a bed near an open window.

  • Now lie on the bed with a pillow below your head and knees. Relax. 

  • Breathe in until your belly is filled with air. Then breathe out. 

  • Next, place one of your hands on your chest and another on your belly. The hand on your stomach should be moving while the one on your chest should remain put. 

  • Repeat the process 3-4 times or until you feel some relief. 

Use Air Purifiers

As the name suggests, air purifiers are devices that help to purify the air. This means that if you have one mounted in the room where you’re painting, you won’t have to worry about inhaling too much of the toxic fumes. 

This device will help remove the fumes and other pollutants in the air, so you can breathe safely. This way, the impact of VOCs on your lungs is greatly reduced. So, having an air purifier around when spray painting is more of a preventive solution to keep the lungs clear of harmful toxins and pollutants. 

Besides large mountable units, these devices are also available as wearable gadgets. 

It is worth mentioning that air purifiers are not substitute for medications. If you have any lingering symptoms due to spray paint inhalation, seek medical attention. 


Regular exercise tends to increase the body’s respiratory rate. This is because your muscles are forced to perform harder when you exercise more. This ultimately speeds up your body’s respiratory rate and improves the oxygen supply to the muscles and lungs. At the same time, circulation is enhanced, and the elimination of carbon dioxide becomes more effective. 

In other words, exercise doesn’t only build the muscles but also helps to strengthen the lungs and improve the elimination of carbon dioxide from the body. It is this activity that makes it also helpful in removing spray paint stuck in the lungs from the spray, as the droplets are removed as soon as possible carbon dioxide is released.

Some common breathing exercises you can practice include running, cycling, jumping jacks, and walking. The impact may not be immediate, but you will eventually reap the benefits and help you clear lungs of spray paint.

Eat Anti-inflammatory Food

If your chest feels particularly heavy and you’re finding it difficult to breathe as a result of inhaling spray paint, chances are that your airways are inflamed. In this case, one way you may be able to lessen the inflammation is by eating anti-inflammatory foods. 

Such foods can help to reduce inflammation, alleviate the symptoms caused by inflammation, and reduce the impact. Some common examples include:

  • Blueberries

  • Walnuts

  • Beans

  • Cherries

  • Olives

  • Turmeric

  • Lentils

  • Leafy greens

However, it is important to not that the food should not be in contact with the paint as some spray paints are not food safe.

Use a Ventilator

A ventilator is a machine that acts like a “bellow” – it is used to move air in and out of the lungs. Respiratory therapists and doctors often use it to recreate the breathing process. 

In other words, you can use a ventilator when you need help to breathe, as is the case when you inhale a good amount of spray paint. A ventilator can help clear out your lungs of spray paint toxins by pumping air into the lungs. 

Here’s how to use the machine:

  • First, you must know how to set up a ventilator and successfully operate it. Always refer to the instruction manual for help.

  • Start by powering up the machine. Then connect the peripherals and breathing tubes.

  • Next, connect the masks to the breathing tube. 

  • Once this has been done, you can start using the machine. 

The steps above may seem somewhat generic. You may need professional assistance to ensure a particular model is set up correctly. 

How Long Do Spray Paint Fumes Stay In your System

After painting in a room, the fumes may affect your system for 1-3 days. During this time, it’s best to stay away from the room until the fumes completely fade away.

How to Clear Lungs of Spray Paint

Safety Precautions Before Ppray painting To Protect Your Lungs

Spray paints are generally safe to use. But there can be a problem when you continually expose yourself to paint fumes. The effect can be short-term or long-term, depending on the paint type and how much you have in your system. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the impact and effect of inhaling these fumes and protect your lungs. They are highlighted below:

  • It’s best to paint outside or in an open space. But when you can’t paint outside, ensure there’s enough ventilation in your chosen location indoors. Open the doors and windows to let the fumes escape. 

  • Wear a respirator or mask to protect your lungs from spray paint vapors. Don’t wait till you inhale puffs of paint before wearing something. 

  • If you have any unused spray paint cans lying around, make sure you close all of them to prevent vapor leaks. Before then, wipe the lids to remove any paint spills. 

  • When working indoors, make it a habit to take several short breaks by going outside to breathe fresh oxygen. 

  • For every aerosol can always read the safety information on the label before using it. Pay attention to the warning, hazards, first-aid information, etc.

  • Avoid smoking or staying around an open flame while using spray paint. This is because spray paints are highly flammable, and staying close to a fire source can potentially lead to fire hazards. 

  • If you feel differently or experience any lingering symptoms after spray painting, consult your doctor immediately. 

  • Likewise, if you have any underlying respiratory condition, such as asthma, endeavor to see your doctor before using spray paint.  

Tips To Reduce Spray Paint Fumes

There are two important tips you shouldn’t overlook when spray painting. These will help reduce the impact of the paint fumes, especially when you’re trying to clear paint from your lungs.

The first one is to avoid any artificial scent. These include but are not limited to perfumes and other scented cosmetics, nail polish, fabric conditioners, air fresheners, and even detergents. These items contain some levels of VOCs, so inhaling them will only worsen your condition or prolong your recovery.

So it’s best to stay away from them and allow your lungs to recover from the spray paint toxins fully.

Another important tip to remember is not to use the room for some time after painting (i.e., if you’re painting indoors). Leave the windows and doors open for at least three days to allow the fumes to leave. Don’t use the room during this period.

FAQs – How To Clear Lungs of Spray Paint

What happens if you breathe in spray paint?

Exposing yourself to these fumes can cause several health issues, ranging from coughing and headache to nausea and itchy eyes. These symptoms may be short-lived depending on the type of spray paint you’re using and how much of the fumes you inhale.

Can Spray Paint Fumes Give You Flu-like Symptoms?

Yes, it can. Some flu-like symptoms you might experience from spray paint inhalation include a runny nose, cough, feverish feeling, lightheadedness, sore throat, nasal congestion, and itchy/watery eyes.

Can I Use a Face Mask To Protect Myself From Spray Paint Fumes?

While wearing a face mask can help reduce your exposure to spray paint vapors, it is not a foolproof method of protection.

How Can I Prevent Inhaling Spray Paint Fumes In The Future?

To prevent inhaling spray paint vapors in the future, work in a well-ventilated area, wear protective clothing and use a respirator.

How Long Does Paint Fume Sickness Last?

This depends on the paint type and how much of it you inhaled. However, most symptoms (dizziness, fatigue, clouded thinking, nausea, or headache) will go away after breathing fresh air for 20 minutes or more.

Does Drinking Warm Water Clean Lungs?

Yes, if your throat is stuck, drinking warm water can make you feel better. This is because warm water is an excellent detoxifier and can help tackle pollutants (such as spray paint particles) in the lungs. If you want to make the drink more powerful, add a little bit of honey.

Can You Sleep With Paint Fumes?

No, you shouldn’t. Paint fumes release higher levels of VOCs in indoor spaces than outdoors, so even when the paint dries, it usually takes some time for the smell to wear off completely. This can take anywhere from a few days to weeks, depending on the paint and weather. During this time, it’s best to avoid sleeping in the room or using it at all.

Can Spray Paint Fumes Kill You?

Spray paint vapors contain many poisonous chemicals, which can make you sick or even cause death if inhaled in large amounts. People frequently exposed to it have the greatest risk of developing severe health problems such as lung cancer or other chronic respiratory diseases.

What Should You Drink After Spray Painting?

After spray painting, you should drink plenty of fluids to clear your lungs. Water is highly recommended, but you can also take milk or some green tea.

How Can I Clear My Lungs After Inhaling Spray Paint Fumes?

If you have inhaled spray paint vapors, it is essential to get fresh air immediately. You can clear the lungs by drinking plenty of water, steam inhalation, or using humidifier.

Summary – How To Clear Lungs of Spray Paint

While spray paints are generally safe to use, inhaling the fumes can be detrimental to your health. This is why it’s important you know how to clear lungs of spray paint.

If you breathe in a small amount of paint fumes, it is less likely to cause any serious damage. The best way to guarantee this is by painting in an open space or ensuring there’s proper ventilation in the area you’re working. Also, when possible, select a spray paint with lower levels of VOCs and try taking frequent breaks while painting to get some fresh air.

However, if you end up inhaling a good amount of spray paint, you may experience some discomfort, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, or wheezing. Just apply the techniques above, and you should be fine.

You can perform steam therapy or chest percussion, drink tea or plenty of water, or exercise. If, after a few days, the symptoms don’t go away, then you should seem medical help immediately.

Leave a Comment