can you die from sleeping in a freshly painted room
Kristina Davis

How “can you die from sleeping in a freshly painted room?” was the topic of the heated argument between me and my roommate.

I knew that this means was surely not one of those painless ways to take your life.

But of course, I also knew there were dangers in sleeping in a freshly painted room. 

Thus, in order to win the argument, I dove deep into research. If you’re making plans to give your room a facelift, then this article will be very helpful.

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And most importantly whether or not your newly painted room will play your assassin.

No worries, if you do as I say, you’ll be alright.

Whilst a freshly painted room will add life and color to a previously dull room, sleeping in a freshly painted one is never advisable. This is because most paints contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These compounds pose several health risks.

Why The Smell?

why smell bad

Usually, the smell of wet paint is so much stronger compared to when it is all dried up.

Regardless dry paint may still emit those vapors.

Once the paint has been applied and its liquid ingredients begin to evaporate, fumes containing harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are released into the air.

Note: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are the cancer-causing compounds found in paints. They are also present in other household products. Many are odorless and thus difficult to detect.

Dangers Of Sleeping In A Freshly Painted Room

If you open a can of paint, next you begin to apply sums of it with a brush on the wall. When you do this, some pungent, awful smell hits your nostril.

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The smell will hit harder, especially when the work is being done indoors. The harmful fumes released during painting have always been an issue.

These fumes pose a couple of health hazards and we’ve looked into them below.

Danger #1. Cancer

a cancer

I have chosen to begin with one of the worst and progressively descend to the least danger that sleeping in a freshly painted room poses.

Some studies have shown that long exposure to VOCs (contained in most paints) can cause different forms of cancer, especially leukemia.

Note: cancer caused by these VOCs has only been observed thus far in animals alone. But it is also believed can occur in humans as well.

Danger #2. Trigger To Allergies

Exposure to paint fumes can easily trigger allergic reactions.

These can be in the form of:

  • Asthma attacks,
  • Watery and itchy eyes,
  • Nausea,
  • Increased difficulty in breathing,
  • Headaches,
  • Runny nose,
  • Skin rash,
  • Throat discomfort, etc.

Danger #3. Risk To Multiple Vital Body Organs

risks to vital organs

Normally, vital body organs such as the kidney, and liver hold the responsibility of ridding the body of harmful toxins such as VOCs.

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In situations where there is an overexposure to these toxins via skin contact or inhalation, the erstwhile protective organs will become overwhelmed and in turn need protecting.

Danger #4. Attack On The Central Nervous System

An overexposure to paint fumes will lead to an accumulation of the same in the brain.

And you can be sure that this will affect the central nervous system. This could lead to milder effects such as dizziness and lightheadedness.

It could even lead to more complicated damages like memory loss, coordination impairment, etc.

Other signs or symptoms associated with exposure to paint fumes include:

  • Dyspnea
  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Epistaxis
  • Emesis
  • A decline in serum cholinesterase levels

Getting Rid Of Paint Fumes In A Freshly Painted Room

get rid of paint fumes

No-VOC or low-VOC paints are mostly recommended by environmental organizations

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Paint fumes we have established can be detrimental to the health of anyone who comes in contact with it.

How long VOCs contained in the fumes would take to dissipate can be difficult to measure.

This is because there may be a residue of VOC left in the atmosphere even if you can no longer perceive the stench after the paint dries up.

However, there are ways to get rid of the smell.

Step #1: Buy As Much Paint As You Need

buy paint you need

If you get a professional painter, they may know the exact quantity of paint needed to get your job done.

If you opt for DIY, you’d need to take extra care especially if it is your first time. In this case, it would be better if there is less than a surplus left over.

In the case where there is leftover paint, store it away from the house. Paint cans can leak VOCs once the seal is broken.

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Step #2: Opt For Water-Based Paints

If you choose DIY, choose or ask for water-based paint with low VOC content.

Endeavor to read the label on the paint, this is to ensure you have been sold the correct thing.

The recommended quantity of VOC per liter of paint is just 50 grams or less as stipulated by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

Step #3: Use Plastic Sheeting/Drop Cloths Or Take Out The Furniture

use plastic sheeting

When you paint with furniture and other décor or clothing in the room, they will surely absorb those VOCs.

This is simply you compounding the problems you may encounter.

Ensure you utilize plastic sheeting or drop cloths to prevent this from happening.

Or you go the hard way by taking out completely all furniture, leaving the room bare while work is done.

Also, leave this furniture out for some time after work might have been completed.

Let’s Play The Waiting Game

the waiting game

Sleeping in a freshly painted room can be as dangerous as it gets.

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I understand the temptation to lay down and enjoy how pretty a job you’ve done.

Please wait a minimum of 72 hours before returning to the room to bask in the euphoria of your job well done.

While waiting, ensure the following tips are considered.

Tip #1: Ventilation

This option should be your first point of call. The job of painting should be done in a well-ventilated room.

The concentrations of VOCs can be greatly reduced when there is proper and ample ventilation in and around the painted room.

Electrical fans will come in handy as well if placed strategically towards windows or doors. This will help direct the flow of air in that direction driving out unwanted fumes.

In addition to this, they will help paint dry up faster – the faster it dries up, the faster your room is rid of those harmful fumes.

Tip #2: Always Read The Safety Information

read safety information

Always take time to read carefully and understand the safety information provided on product labels.

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Take note of all warnings, first aid application in case of accidents, and whether or not a respirator is required during application

Tip #3: Bonus Tip Whilst Painting

As you paint, the paint fumes will attack you immediately putting you at risk the very moment you open up the can of paint.

You wouldn’t want to paint for a long period taking the full brunt of that smell.

I would advise that you take breaks in between painting as often as possible. Go out, away from the area or room being painted, and seek fresh air.

Can You Die From Sleeping In A Freshly Painted Room?

die from sleeping in freshly painted room

Is it safe to sleep in a freshly painted room? This has been the crux of this article.

Whilst paint fumes can be detrimental to our health and well-being as we have seen from this piece.

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You, however, will most likely not be killed directly from inhaling the fumes.

Complications may arise, and if not properly handled will be detrimental.

Note: Keep children and pregnant women away from the painting room. They are at greater risks compared to others.


What is important is that your query, can you die from sleeping in a freshly painted room has been effectively trashed. Many cheers to that!

There may be a couple of reasons for wanting to give your room a facelift.

These could be for preparing a nursery for your baby's coming, or simply wanting a change of style. 

However, remember that while it may not be mortally dangerous at the moment like sniffing Strychnine, inhaling paint fumes poses several health risks to you and every other person.

Please do not hesitate to give us feedback on how helpful this article has been to you. Thank you for reading.

Stay safe, always.