How Do You Clear Your Lungs?

Reviewed on 4/25/2022
Illustration of mucus in the lungs
Ways to clean the lungs and improve lung health include lifestyle modifications and exercises, such as not smoking, breathing exercises, steam therapy, avoiding harmful pollutants, regular exercise, avoiding indoor pollutants, using an air purifier, and more.

It is possible to clean the lungs and improve lung health with lifestyle modifications and exercises, such as: 

  • Don’t smoke or quit smoking
    • This is the best way to minimize and heal lung damage
  • Breathing exercises
    • With illnesses like COPD, the diaphragm gradually loses its ability to spring back and push out stale air
    • Breathing exercises can help rid the lungs of accumulated stale air, increase oxygen levels, and help the diaphragm work as it should
      • Pursed lip breathing
        • Inhale through your nose and exhale at least twice as long through your mouth, with pursed lips
        • This reduces the number of breaths you take and keeps the airways open longer
    • Belly breathing (diaphragmic breathing)
      • Inhale through your nose and pay attention to how your belly fills with air (be aware of your belly rising and falling) 
      • Exhale through your mouth at least two to three times as long as you inhaled
  • Chest percussion (chest physiotherapy) 
    • Uses clapping of the chest with a cupped hand to vibrate the airways in the lungs which helps move mucus from smaller airways into larger ones for it to be coughed up
    • You need the help of a partner, special electronic devices designed to vibrate the chest, or other instruments to vibrate the chest safely
  • Steam therapy
    • Inhale steam from a hot shower or hot pot of water to help open airways and loosen and clear mucus from the lungs
    • Breathing in steam may also help temporarily relieve labored breathing due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD
  • Avoid harmful pollutants 
    • Check your local air quality index (AQI) using an online tool from
    • The higher the AQI value, the more pollution there is in the air 
  • Exercise regularly 
    • Even if you have chronic lung disease, exercise can help improve lung health
    • Talk to your doctor about what exercise is right for you
    • Avoid exercising outdoors on bad air quality days 
  • Avoid exposure to indoor pollutants that can damage your lungs
    • Make sure your home and care are smoke free
    • Test your home for radon
    • Talk to your doctor if you think something in your home, work, or school is making you sick
  • Invest in an air purifier
    • This can help clean the air inside your home
    • A whole-home system or a small device for individual rooms can help create a healthier indoor environment
  • Keep indoor air clean
    • Vacuum frequently with a good-quality vacuum cleaner
    • Use natural cleaning products
    • Use fragrance-free products
    • Avoid aerosol sprays
    • Change air filters in the home regularly
  • Prevent infection
    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water is not available
    • Avoid crowds during the cold and flu season
    • Practice good oral hygiene: brush teeth twice daily and see a dentist every six months
    • Get vaccinated to prevent severe illness
    • Stay home from work or school if you are sick to protect others
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
    • Choose antioxidant-rich foods and a diet full of vitamins and nutrients 

What Lung Conditions Cause Breathing Problems?

We inhale pollutants every day, from pollution, to cigarette smoke, pollen, viruses, and other toxins. Fortunately, our lungs are mostly self-cleaning and self-repairing organs, but there are steps we can take to clear them and help keep them as healthy as possible. 

People who have medical conditions that cause breathing problems may benefit from a lung cleanse, such as:

What Products Should I Avoid If I Have a Lung Condition?

Beware of products that claim to “detox” the lungs. There is no evidence any essential oils, teas, salt inhalers, vitamins, masks, and other products work as they claim. Further, many of these products can be harmful, especially ones that are inhaled. 

Reviewed on 4/25/2022
Image Source: iStock Images