How To Clear Lungs Of Spray Paint (7 Best Methods)

Though we all know we should be wearing respirator masks and other safety gear when working with spray paints, sometimes it is just easier to get the job done sans the gear.

But what happens when the spray paint sprays the wrong way or the spray paint fumes go flying?

Not just the paint smell, but inhaling spray paint fumes or smell free particles can damage your lungs and other vital body organs. 

In this article, we discuss seven easy ways to clear your lungs of spray paint.   

1. Drink Milk  

If you’ve ingested or inhaled spray paint, then head directly to the fridge and take a few sips of milk to clear lungs of spray paint.

Milk consists of casein, a protein that envelopes the chemicals found in spray painting job that can cause cancer and assists in removing spray paint from the throat. 

Milk is a good option as it helps make your throat feel better. However, it is almost impossible for milk to absorb paint fumes in the body.

It is imperative you move quickly. Though more research needs to be conducted on the subject, it is thought that milk is most effective in neutralizing paint within 10 minutes of it entering the body. 

2. Sip On Some Green Tea 

If spray painting is something you do often, then green tea is a product you should be consuming daily. Green tea is chock full of antioxidants, which (among countless other benefits) protect the tissues in your lungs and reduce the risk of developing lung disease. Healthy lungs will be less vulnerable should you accidentally inhale spray paint.       

How To Clear Lungs Of Spray Paint

3. Take A Cold Shower Followed By A Hot One 

To start, hop into the shower and run cold water. Cold water encourages the lungs to open and makes deep breathing an easier task to clear lungs of spray paint.  

Once taking a deep breath becomes easier, change the water temperature to as hot as you can stand it. The hot water will produce steam, the vapors of which will help remove mucus (and  remove spray paint droplets) out of your body.   

4. Deep Breaths 

If you have just inhaled some spray paint, deep breathing can assist your clear lungs of spray paint.

Start by walking outside or standing near an open window or door. Cover your mouth with a warm damp cloth and begin to breathe as deeply as you can. Continue this until you no longer feel like breathing will send you into a controlled coughing.   Controlled coughing will loosen the mucus around the lungs and force it out via the airways.

You can also sit on a stool with your feet flat on the floor with your shoulders relaxed. Place your arms across your stomach Inhale slowly using your nose.

5. Do Some Exercise  

Though it may sound counterintuitive, exercising can help you breathe easier after breathing spray paint. Run, cycle, Perform Chest Percussion, do some jumping jacks, or even take a walk around the block. Doing so will get your blood circulating, which in turn improves your body's respiratory rate and helps rid your body and clear lungs of spray and carbon dioxide.  

Though the effects aren’t immediate, regular exercise will eventually work to rid your body of spray paint droplets.  

6. Cough a Few Times 

Coughing is the body’s natural method of removing mucus and other foreign debris from the lungs, so it makes sense that this would be an effective trick for clearing the lungs of any inhaled paint droplets.   

With your feet planted firmly on the floor and your arms resting across your stomach, slowly inhale. As you exhale, lean forward so that your arms press into your stomach. Cough 3-4 times before inhaling again through your nose.  

If you are having trouble in controlled coughing process after inhaling spray paint fumes, you can have a friend massage your back or stomach area, which typically induces a cough.  

7. Steam Inhalation 

If you don't want to risk inhaling toxic fumes or conclusion spray paint inhalation, you should use a respirator. Respirators provide maximum protection against harmful vapors, mold spores, and chemicals.

Steam inhalation, or steam therapy or inhaling steam, occurs when steam vapor opens the respiratory tract and makes it easier to remove mucus from the lungs. 

Steam therapy is a common treatment for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) but works well for removing paint droplets, too.  

If you don’t have a steam inhaler where you are, heat a pot of water to boiling. Once the water is nice and steamy, remove the pot from the heat and set it down in front of you.

Cover your head and the pot with a towel, holding your face about six inches from the water and breathe in the steam vapors. Remove the towel from your head (but not the pot) as needed, though the whole process should take about 10 minutes. 

Take about ten long, slow, deep breaths three times daily to expand the lungs and increase the oxygen supply to the blood. Wear steam masks. Curing time with non steam mask therapy for oil paint or oil based paint can take up to two months. Seek medical attention if necessary. A respiratory therapist may employ a cupped hand to tap rhythmically against the chest wall to loosen the paint that has been trapped in the lung.

What Happens If You Inhale Spray Paint? 

Every few years or so, the trend of purposely inhaling spray paint seems to resurface in headlines and on social media. Not surprisingly, this terrible habit comes with enormous health risks. Still, it’s important to know that inhaling spray paint doesn’t have to be a habit to be dangerous.  

How Does Inhaling Spray Paint Affect Your System?  

Spray paint contains isocyanates, volatile organic compounds (Spray paint VOCs) commonly used in the production of pesticides, fungicides, and polymers like resin and plastics. The purpose of the VOC is to transfer the paint from the spray cans to the sprayer. It also maintains consistency in the paint flow.

When inhaled, isocyanates have been found to irritate the respiratory tract, cause long-term respiratory issues, and even cancer.  

What Are The Common Symptoms? 

If you've inhaled too much spray paint, then you are likely experiencing an irritated feeling in your nose, eyes, and throat. You may feel the need to cough, or you might have a headache. In extreme cases, dizziness may also occur. These are all symptoms of exposure to isocyanates.  

Does Inhaling Spray Paint Make You Sick? Can Spray Paint Cause Lung Cancer?

Because of its many harmful ingredients, inhaling spray paint indoors can absolutely make you sick. Damage to your lungs and other organs can occur after just one inhalation, as can chronic respiratory problems. 

Those who are routinely exposed to spray paint and spray paint fumes are also at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.    

woman wearing protective suit

What To Do When You Inhale Spray Paint?  

If you have just inhaled paint or have spray paint stuck in your lungs – whether or not you are experiencing symptoms like coughing or irritation – you should follow a few simple steps to safeguard your health after inhaling paint.  

Avoid using perfumes for some days Avoid smelling other artificial scents such as fabric conditioners, nail polish, detergents and other artificial scents. Eating anti inflammatory foods can lessen inflammation. Anti inflammatory foods include: turmeric, leafy greens, cherries, blueberries, olives, walnuts, beans and lentils.

  • 1
    Get as much breathe fresh air as possible by air purifier. 
    Open windows and doors, or better yet, step outside. Take as many deep breathes or breath fresh air as you are able. Using air purifiers help to purify the air or cleanse fresh air by removing the spraying paint from the air. When you mount air purifiers at your home, you can inhale fresh air or as much fresh air.
  • 2
    Breathe into a paper bag 
    Breathe deeply into a paper bag (and only a paper bag – plastic will not work) until paint is no longer coming out with each breath. Try not to pause or hold your breath at all during this process. It may take several minutes, but it is an effective way to clear your respiratory tract of any inhaled paint.  If the symptoms persist, try one of the other steps described above or… 
  • 3
    Consult poison control or your doctor 
    Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, it is worth checking with your doctor anytime you breathe in or ingest a dangerous chemical (including spray paint). Your doctor will likely ask a few questions before determining if further treatment is needed.  

Clearing Lungs Of Spray Paint FAQs  

How long does spray paint fumes sickness last?  

Depending on the type of paint and how much paint was inhaled, the symptoms of paint fume sickness can last anywhere from 14 to 24 weeks 

How do you get rid of a sore throat from spray paint fumes? 

The best way to get rid of sore throat from spray paint fumes is to open windows and doors, or step outside to get some fresh air. If, after a few minutes, your throat is still feeling sore, gargle with a glass of warm salt water.   

Do Citadel spray paints cause lung cancer? 

There is no definitive answer, but the VOCs in Citadel spray paints may be harmful if inhaled frequently and for prolonged periods, potentially increasing the risk of lung cancer.  Inhaling any kind of paint is never good, so it is important to wear a quality respirator mask when working with Citadel spray paint.       


The chemicals included in a can of spray paint are incredibly dangerous, and inhaling them can lead to a slew of serious issues. Better to be safe than dealing with paint toxins & paint fume sickness by wear protective gear.

Whenever you work with spray painting, be sure to wear respirator masks that can block dangerous spray paint particles and harmful vapors. Though tricks like breathing into a paper bag, wearing respirator mask and drinking milk are effective treatments.