How to Clear Lungs of Spray Paint (10 Effective Methods)

If you’ve ever worked with spray paint, even just a little bit, then you know that the fumes can be pretty intense.

And if you’re not careful, they can stay in your lungs for a long time.

In this post, we’ll teach you how to clear your lungs of spray paint as quickly and easily as possible.

Trust us – it’s worth knowing!

How Harmful is Spray Paint to the Lungs?

Spray paint fumes are toxic, but how toxic are they? Let us talk a bit about Chemistry.

The essential ingredients in any spray paint can include a high concentration of acetone, xylene, and toluene which are all Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

They make spray paint toxic. VOC inhalation can affect the functioning of the respiratory system, which depends entirely on the lungs.

Once the mucous membranes of the lungs are affected, you might experience side effects such as nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a tight chest.

In the long run, if one’s respiratory system is constantly exposed to these fumes, it could damage the respiratory tract, lungs, and other organs.

This is why wearing a nose mask and spray painting in a ventilated place, if possible open-air, is always advised. You agree that chemicals like waterproofing spray coating do not particularly smell good, not to mention prolonged exposure.

How to Clear Lungs of Spray Paint Fumes in 10 Ways

To clear lungs of spray paint, move away from where the spray painting was carried out, step outside to get some fresh air, and drink loads of water. Then, endeavor to get some rest to catch your breath and relax your lungs.

Aside from taking in water and getting fresh air, other things can be done to clear lungs of spray paint.

How to do ten of these procedures are explained below in steps with what they require. You might find doing some difficult on your own, but there are other alternatives.

Related: How long does polyurethane smell last?

1. Exposure to Fresh Air

This is the first thing anyone should do immediately after exposure to spray paint fumes, get some fresh air, mainly if the spray painting was carried out in a poorly ventilated or enclosed space.

What is needed

  • An outdoor space that is well aerated, preferably a garden with planted trees.
  • A lounge chair or couch(optional)

How it is done

Step 1: It is self-explanatory; step outside your home or away from the spray paint to get some fresh air.

Step 2: Take deep breaths in and out repeatedly for a few minutes

Step 3: Do not carry out any strenuous activity that could increase your breathing rate hence straining your lungs; take a few minutes to get some rest on a lounge chair or whatever you can sit on.

Step 4: It is not enough to get fresh air; also, stay away from the paint smell for about 2-3 days so the fumes would have subsided in the air before you come in contact with it again.

2. Drink Milk

In old times, painters were reported to always consume milk before doing their jobs. Science has proved there is no scientific basis for milk clearing paint fumes or toxins generally.

So do not rely solely on drinking milk, especially after prolonged exposure to spray paint fumes, but it helps nausea you might feel as one of the symptoms.

What do you need?

  • A pack or bottle of liquid milk (unflavored)
  • A glass cup
  • A cup of water

How it is carried out

Step 1: Pour some of the liquid milk into a glass cup.

Step 2: Drink it up

Step 3: Then drink at least a glass of water as the idea is to get enough fluids

Note: The milk could also help dilute the concentration of spray paint fumes that have gotten into the bloodstream from the lungs, thereby neutralizing the side effects to an extent.

3. Drink Green Tea

Green tea has many health benefits, one of which is to give you clean lungs literally. The antioxidants contained in it help protect the lungs after inhaling anything toxic.

What do you need?

  • A teabag and a teacup
  • Boiled water
  • Ginger, lemon, or honey.

How this can be done

Step 1: Pour some hot water into the teacup.

Step 2: Soak the tea bag in the boiled water for about 5 minutes till most of the flavor has diffused into the cup.

Step 3: You can add a bit of lemon, ginger, or honey as they also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Step 4: Drink it up as taking in hot fluids, especially green tea, helps cleanse the lungs.

Tip: You can drink a cup of this every day even after inhaling spray paint fumes; remember, it has health benefits and helps increase perfusion rate, so your lungs get rid of toxins faster.

4. Carry out Chest Percussion

You might know this is a way of draining accumulated mucus in the lungs to manage specific conditions and lung infections.

This can also be done especially after excessive exposure to spray paint fumes, resulting in shortness of breath. However, this requires a specialist to be performed effectively.

What is needed:

  • An extra pair of hands as you cannot perform it on yourself
  • Vibrator/ Palm percussors

How it is done

Step 1: Lie or sit in a position depending on what part of the lungs is to be drained. You could lie on your side, back or stomach, but it is advised that it is done in all positions.

Step 2: Whoever is performing it should cup their hands as if they are about to hold water to prevent hurting the other person.

Step 3: Clap on the chest wall as a ‘percussion’ for about 3-5 minutes, vibrating over the same area for 15 seconds.

Step 4: A vibrator or palm percussor (which can be electrical and nonelectrical) can also be used as vibration works just the same as clapping, and in the event it is not available, a flattened hand can be used to apply light pressure over the area as gentle shakes so the mucus naturally can drain.

Note: It is advised to contact a therapist before doing this at home, and if there is no one around who knows how to, the safest option is to head over to the hospital or try other options, so other parts of the body, such as the spine, breastbone, and stomach are not affected.

5. Steam Therapy

Steam therapy, also known as ‘steam inhalation,’ is commonly done to manage a bad cold or flu that has disrupted the airways.

It is another way to remove accumulated mucus from the lungs; hence it is suitable for removing spray paint fumes from the lungs. Still, it is a temporary remedy, and no apparent change may be noticed in breathing after it is done.

What is needed

  • A large bowl
  • Water
  • A kettle to heat water
  • Towel

How is it done?

Step 1: Heat the water till it is boiled

Step 2: Pour the hot water into a bowl

Step 3: Cover the back of your head with a towel

Step 4: Set a timer for about 2-5 minutes

Step 5: Close your eyes and slowly lower your face to the bowl of hot water till you are about 8-12 inches away, making sure the steam is in direct contact with your face. Be careful not to burn your face, though.

Step 6: You can repeat this till the water cools off for each session and about 2-3 times a day, depending on the severity of the exposure. Electric steam inhalers can also make this relatively easier to carry out.

6. Controlled Coughing

Coughing is a natural way for the body to get out toxins that are respiratory irritants. Controlled coughing is more like dry coughing and initiating the coughing reflex to clear your lungs of toxic fumes even though they could trigger coughing.

Care should be taken while doing this so you do not throw up.

What is needed

  • A stool or chair

How it is done

Step 1: Sit on a stool or chair with your shoulders relaxed and your feet flat on the floor.

Step 2: Place your arms across your stomach

Step 3: Slowly inhale through your nose

Step 4: Exhale slowly and lean forward, pressing your arms into your stomach.

Step 5: Cough about 2-3 times as you exhale, keeping your mouth slightly open.

Step 6: Inhale through your nose slowly again.

Step 7: Repeat steps 1-6 depending on what is required.

7. Consume Anti-Inflammatory Food

Diet also helps remove spray paint particles from the lungs and clear the air passage of any accumulated spray paint fumes.

Inflammation of the lungs can make breathing difficult, causing chest tightness, hence the need to consume food that works against inflammation and would help relieve symptoms. These are called anti-inflammatory foods.

What is needed

Anti-inflammatory foods such as:

  • Beans
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Green vegetable
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberry
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Turmeric

What you should do

  • Tip 1: Ensure that any plate of food to be eaten contains at least one or more of these anti-inflammatory foods.
  • Tip 2: They should be eaten regularly as they will work gradually to reduce inflammation of the lungs and prevent complications that could arise from inhaling spray paint fumes.
  • Tip 3: Avoid processed food.

8. Do Some Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are pretty easy, and they help to clear the lungs of spray paint. They do not involve strenuous body activities, aiming to aerate the lungs and eliminate carbon dioxide.

It is also a long-term technique for clearing the lungs of spray paint fumes.

What is needed

  • Deep breaths

How to carry this out

Take about ten long, slow, deep breaths three times daily to expand the lungs and increase the oxygen supply to the blood. It takes conscious effort to carry out this successfully.

As simple as it seems, it helps cleanse and detox the lungs of whatever toxic matter is trapped there.

Fun fact: Do you know it is also a good relaxation technique?

9. Contact Poison Control

Poison control is a medical service that offers immediate, free, and expert treatment advice over the phone when there has been exposure to poisonous substances.

Sadly, not all countries have this service, but for countries that do, it is advised to call them, especially when you do not know what to do or have run out of options.

What is needed

  • A phone that makes calls
  • Poison controls helpline

How to do this

Place a call to their helpline explaining what kind of spray paint fumes you have been exposed to and how you feel, and then they can give medical advice on how to clear lungs of spray paint.

10. Seek Medical Help

You can also go to the nearest hospital. This should be the first option, especially if you have a history of respiratory diseases before spray paint inhalation.

At the hospital, a breathing test will be done, and your respiratory capacity will be thoroughly assessed to see if either has been compromised. Also, scans can be done on the lungs to see if the fumes have done any further damage.

Anyone exposed to poisonous fumes should see a doctor for a checkup, irrespective of how they feel. Running to the hospital might be a challenge, but better to be safe than dealing with paint fume sickness.

Safety Tips while Spray Painting to Protect Lungs

Putting things in place to protect oneself is always a better alternative to seeking remedies of how to clear lungs of spray paint. Specific equipment can be used and worn to protect one’s lungs from spray paint. They include:

Air purifiers

The smell of paint and the fumes linger for days before they get eliminated from the air. Air purifiers help neutralize paint odors.

Hence the need to use an air purifier right from when you start using the spray paint so the air can be filtered and you do not have to inhale poisonous fumes.

However, they do not work effectively if spray painting is done outdoors or the windows are open while in use indoors.

Alternatively, you may consider investing in the best woodworking air filtration system for your workspace to ensure effective air filtration while working on your projects.

Wear respirator masks

Whether you’re using spray paint for outside wood in the open air or in an enclosed space, it is advised to put on respirator masks. This mask is relatively not cheap, but it would save your lungs, especially when you are in an enclosed space.

Make sure it is worn correctly and fits perfectly on your face, so it does its job of protecting you from breathing solvent paint fumes. Get some fresh air in between use too.


What happens if you breathe in spray paint?

There are short-term and long-term spray paint health effects, but the likely symptoms you would experience shortly after breathing in spray paint are headaches, nausea, dizziness, and irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat. In the long run, it might affect the liver, kidneys, and some brain parts.

What should I do if I inhale spray paint fumes?

If you inhale spray paint toxic fumes, go out to get some fresh air if you feel dizzy or find breathing difficult. Drinking milk and water will settle your stomach if you feel nauseous. Contact poison control, too, especially after prolonged inhalation.

What is the best way to get rid of spray paint from the lungs?

  The best way to get rid of spray paint from the lungs is by taking steam therapy, that is, inhaling steam as it clears the airways and increases respiratory performance hence getting rid of toxic VOC fumes from the lungs.

Can lungs be cleared of spray paint?

Yes, lungs can be cleared of spray paint just like any chemical inhalation if you take in enough fluids, eat anti-inflammatory foods, perform breathing exercises, inhale steam, carry out controlled coughing and chest percussion.

How long does it take to recover from spray paint fumes inhalation?

It could take up to two months, although no exact amount of time is known for one to recover from inhaling spray paint fumes. It depends on the level of inhalation and remedies used, which would determine the duration it takes to recover.

How do you know your lungs are completely clear of spray paint?

When you perform a breathing test, and it is normal and no previous respiratory symptoms, your lungs might be completely clear of spray paint. However, you should see a doctor for a thorough medical check-up.

Can one die from inhaling spray paint fumes?

If the spray paint fumes are inhaled directly over a long period, it can result in death because it has a high concentration of harmful vapors that can damage the body system.

Do I need to worry if I accidentally inhaled spray paint?

  Whether the exposure to these toxic fumes was minimal or for an extended time, you should worry and try out remedies if you accidentally inhaled spray paint.

Also read: Does paint come out of hair?


Spray paint getting to one’s lungs might be inevitable, but when you know what to do, it will help. Remember to treat it as a serious medical emergency and seek medical attention.

You can also follow any of the above ways on how to clear lungs of spray paint. Also, spray paint in a well-ventilated area or in the open air.

If it is going to be enclosed, use a proper respirator mask and have an air purifier running, so you do not keep inhaling paint. Protect your lungs from spray paints!

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