Will Mineral Spirits Remove Paint? (How To Guide)

You know about mineral spirits, but might realize you are a bit hazy on the details.

So, will mineral spirits remove paint? It depends on what is meant by paint and remove paint. Mineral spirits are one of the best paint thinners–and mineral spirit arguably the best solvent for oily paint stains and oil-based paint.

Removing paint usually means stripping dried paint with paint scraper or metallic putty knife. You can use mineral spirits to remove paint, but they usually not sufficient.

This article will clear up what mineral spirits can and cannot do–and list best practices to remove paint when using mineral spirits.

Acrylic Paint

This is water based, so mineral spirits are not ideal to remove paint. Try soap and hot water instead of mineral spirit.

Latex Paints

It is also water based, so mineral spirits work to remove paint. Again, try soap and water.

Latex Paint

Chalk Paint

Like latex paints, this is another water-based paint, so the same as above applies.

Oil-Based Paints

This is where mineral spirits shine. They are safe for most surfaces and mineral spirit work as a pre-paint cleaner for sticky residue [1].

Do mineral spirits take off paint? Sometimes. To take off dry paint,  mineral spirit required heat, sanding, and paint scraper.

  • Polyurethanes:
    With oil-based polyurethane, you can use it as thinner, cleaner for painting tools, and to clean up wet paint.
  • Epoxy:
    It works similarly for these coatings. On the flip side, be careful not to damage epoxy surfaces.
  • Enamel:
    You can use it on oil-based enamels, but some are water-based–so check which kind you are using before selecting a thinner.

From Wooden Surfaces

  • Accidental Latex Paint Spills On Wood Floors:
    It will reliably get oil paints thinned so you can clean it up safely, no matter the wood type–hardwood or soft wooden surfaces.
  • Spills On Worktops:
    It is the perfect way to get oil-based coatings and sticky residues off metal and wood worktops.
  • Cleaning Finished Wood:
    Many wood varnishes (as on wood trim) are oil-based, so be cautious if you use mineral spirits directly with spray bottle..

Paint On Concrete

You can use mineral spirits work on concrete floors, as well as grout, mortar, and marble. However, mineral spirit might be wise to test a small area before going at whole surfaces.

Do not use them on asphalt or other petroleum-based products that are heavily refined.

Paint on Concrete

Remove Car Paint

  • Cleaning Metal:
    Use mineral spirits to wipe down metal surfaces after paint removal.
  • Cleaning Plastic:
    Repeatedly use mineral spirit can break down some synthetic materials, but typically, there is no problem with an occasional cleaning agent.
  • Cleaning Glass:
    It is an okay spot treatment to thin oil-based paints on glass for easier cleaning.

Can You Clean Paint brushes With Mineral Spirits?

Many people online describe cleaning brushes use mineral spirits.

There could be subtle differences with different projects, but here are the basics:

  • 1
    Pour mineral spirits into a cup of sufficient size and level to accommodate the painting tool.
  • 2
    Soak briefly before swishing and lightly pressing against the side of the container to squeeze off excess. Repeat as you see fit.
  • 3
    For tough jobs, pour a fresh cup of spirits and repeat the above steps. If this does not work or you are dealing with dry paint, a scrubbing brush comb might help.
  • 4
    Use soap and water to finish the wash.
  • 5
    Apply absorbent cloth to the scrubbing brush and allow paint dries.

How To Clean Paint Rollers

Use a similar procedure with paint rollers, trays, or any other painting tools. Wear gloves and massage the tool to dislodge paint.

How To Clean Spray Paint Guns

It is worth noting that you can thin paint off of paint sprayers, but be sure to finish the process with a soap-and-water cleanse (warm soapy water). fter, soak the equipment in warm soapy water to remove any residue on the other painting equipment before storing them.

What Are Mineral Spirits & How Do They Work?

Specifically, it is a petroleum-derived product [2]. More generally, it is an organic compound–one of many used to thin paint. It is the prime ingredient in thinner, as it is an ideal solvent for oily materials as opposed to water-based.

Therefore, use them to remove almost any waxy, greasy stain on practically entire surface. However, by itself, mineral spirit is not highly effective to take off dried paint and cured paint (dried and cured paint).

Despite its strength, it is safe for do-it-yourselfers. Just use common sense and handle it properly.

Can use mineral spirits remove paint?  You can use them to remove paint, wet paint stains, and sealers from different surfaces, including metal surface and concrete surface or porous surface or dusty surface. If the affected surface is porous surface, soak a rag in warm soapy water and wipe the affected surface with the dry rag.

If you've never use mineral spirits to remove paint before, you may wonder how you can use mineral spirits to remove paint from wooden surfaces and other surfaces. Used mineral spirits to remove paint from surfaces like wood is relatively easy.

They can also be used to remove the last remaining paint flakes or as many paint flakes. This will help you to get rid of the remaining flakes properly.

What Should I Know About Working With Mineral Spirits?

Spirits are somewhat volatile (easily inhaled), flammable (promote fires), and toxic to skin and mucous membranes.

Proper safety precautions

  • 1
    Work in a well-ventilated area. (Note: Benzene, a frequent additive to mineral spirit paint thinners, is similarly volatile and toxic.)
  • 2
    Wear gloves and eye protection.
  • 3
    Do not store near flames or electric charge.
  • 4
    Make sure to dispose of mineral spirits properly [3]. Do not pour mineral spirit (or spirits with dissolved paint) down the drain. 
  • 5
    Avoid mixing: Using two solvents at once could create an unintended chemical reaction.
  • 6
    If you are removing paint from a sensitive surface or material like fabric or plywood, mix it with water to dilute the concentration.

Alternatives to Mineral Spirits

Paint Thinner - Minireal Spirit
  • Turpentine 
    It is an organic compound distilled from living pine tree resin that is great for thin oil-based paints. A subtle difference between mineral spirits and turpentine is that turpentine produces more odor.
  • Linseed Oil
    The same oils that dissolve paint are great for cleaning it, too. When oil-based paint is wet, you could even use a multi-purpose cleaner containing natural oils.
  • Paint Thinners
    In theory, thinner could refer to anything that is thinning paint. In practice, mineral spirits and paint thinners often refer to the same product. There are eco-friendly oil based paint thinner (not petroleum products), but they usually cost more and lack strength.
  • Odor-Free Mineral Spirits 
    Use mineral spirits thinner is not so odoriferous. However, for slightly higher price tags, you can get similar odor-free paint thinners, but they probably will lack strength.
  • Acetone
    Mineral spirits vs acetone, both are similar, as both will clean a variety of coatings without leaving residue or odor, but acetone is a faster evaporating thinner. However, more stubborn stains may not come out easily with acetone as they need something stronger.
  • Alcohol
    Many lacquers have denatured alcohol as a solvent, and so it is a great cleaner for similar coatings. If you have it on hand, rubbing alcohol could work on many paint spills. However, rubbing alcohol, much like nail polish remover, can contain additives.
  • Lacquer Thinner 
    This is generally stronger than mineral spirits and should be used more cautiously, as it can dissolve various coatings/surfaces. Both will work with oil-based coatings, but lacquer thinners normally come at higher price tags.

Subtle differences aside, all the above are highly effective paint removers.

Mineral Spirits FAQs

Which is stronger: paint thinner or mineral spirits?

Mineral spirits may be considered stronger than paint thinners. Paint thinners and mineral spirits are similar, but the purity of mineral spirits is typically higher.

Can mineral spirits remove acrylic nails?

Mineral spirits may work to remove acrylic but it's not recommended for skin. Nail polish remover is a better option, as it contains acetone and other solvents.

Are mineral spirits the same as white spirits?

Yes. This is the UK/Ireland equivalent. Less often, it is called mineral turpentine or petroleum spirits.

Can mineral spirits remove stains from clothes?

Yes, but mineral spirits can remove stains but also damage fabric or dyes. Scrape/wipe off as much as possible before treating fabric, and try soaking in soapy water for a few hours first.

Can mineral spirits get dried paint out of the carpet?

Successfully using mineral spirits to remove dried paint out of carpet depends on paint type and dryness. Scrape first. Mineral spirits can harm dyes, so be precise.

Can you paint over mineral spirits?

Yes, after letting mineral spirits dry completely for about half an hour, you can paint over it. However, it's recommended to do a soap-and-water wash before painting.

Will mineral spirits ruin the laminate floor?

Test on a small area first and keep treatment on the stain. Laminate surface info matters. Clean paint spills immediately for best results.


For some projects, for removing paint or successfully clean up, usew mineral spirits are the best. For others, it is useless–even harmful.

Similarly, it is totally safe when used as directed, but with negligent use, you could cause harm to people, property, and the environment around you.

Mineral spirits thinner is a do-it-yourselfer must-have, but knowing when and how to use this chemical is valuable for almost anyone.


1. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/mineral-spirits-uses/

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spirit

3. https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-Mineral-Spirits