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How to Use Mineral Spirits After Stripping Paint

Brynne Chandler

Mineral spirits are a distillate of petroleum, though a gentler form than strong solvents such as turpentine. Artists often use mineral spirits to clean paintbrushes, and mechanics use the solvent to soak grease off of engine parts. The solvent can be used in place of turpentine when stripping furniture and woodwork.

Using mineral spirits after stripping paint helps clean up any stray bits of paint, especially if you are using oil-based or alkyd paints, which cannot be dissolved with water. Unless you’re dealing with super-tough paint residue, it makes sense to use odorless mineral spirits.

  1. Put on your goggles and gloves. Even odorless mineral spirits are somewhat caustic, so wear long sleeves to protect your arms.

  2. Dampen one portion of a shop cloth lightly with mineral spirits. Don’t make the cloth wringing wet.

  3. Wipe the dampened portion of the cloth along the surface you have just stripped. If you are working with wood, go with the grain rather than against it.

  4. Refold the shop cloth to expose a clean area and dampen it again. Mineral spirits evaporate fast, so work quickly. Continue dampening clean spots and wiping down the surface you have stripped until the entire area is free of all paint residue.

  5. Warning

    Never use mineral solvents without gloves; the solvent is irritating to the skin.