New environmental standards means that us DIYers need to find a new alternative to mineral spirits for our painting needs.
Substitutes are available which work just as well and we review them below for you.
What can I use Instead of Mineral Spirits? What is an Alternative to Mineral Spirits?
We did some research for you and found that there are 9 alternative to mineral spirits solutions available.
- Denatured alcohol
- Charcoal lighter fluid – actually mineral spirits rebranded
- Acetone (think nail polish remover)
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Oil, soap and water (natural ways to clean up paint)
- Citrus Solvent
- Soy Based Solvent
- Vegetable Oil
Are Mineral Spirits Banned in your Area?
Many areas have banned the sale of mineral spirits due to their toxicity to people and the environment. So what do we use if we want to thin paint?
This means we need to find a mineral spirits substitute if we want to keep painting and clean our tools. You can order mineral spirits online if you really want to continue using it or go to a store that still sells it.
Mineral Spirits Substitutes: What is Similar to Mineral Spirits?
Denatured alcohol, is a type of ethanol. It’s mostly used as camping stove fuel. You can use it as a solvent, in wood sanding or as a cleaning aid just like mineral spirits.
Denatured alcohol also contains methanol which is pretty toxic so you really shouldn’t be getting it on your skin or breathing it in.
Remember that mineral spirits are oil based and denatured alcohol removes or strips oil. Because of this fact, I would stick with using denatured alcohol for cleaning and as a solvent and avoid it for thinning any paints.
Charcoal Lighter Fluid
Oddly enough, the same stuff you squirt onto your briquettes to start BBQing that thick rib eye is actually made of either mineral spirits or methanol/ethanol.
Because it is made of mineral spirits, you can use charcoal lighter fluid the same way that you would use mineral spirits. Just don’t light yourself on fire!
Can I use acetone instead of mineral spirits? Yes, acetone is also considered a solvent and can be used for degreasing and general cleaning. It can be used on many items to remove oil, grease, dirt and glues. It’s the same stuff that used to remove nail polish.
You can use it on metal, plastic and glass, unlike mineral spirits which will ruin some forms of plastic.
With Acetone, you don’t have to wear a mask because it isn’t considered to be a volatile organic compound (VOC) and doesn’t give off fumes like our other choices on this list.
Turpentine: Oil Paint Thinner Substitute
Turpentine is more toxic than mineral or white spirits. It gives off some nasty fumes, so make sure to use in a well ventilated area with a respirator.
Just like mineral spirits it can be used to degrease oily car or bike parts. Some painters recommend using turpentine to clean your paint sprayers after spraying oil based paint or primers.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for your paint sprayer and call them if you are in doubt about clean up.
Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is a clear, flammable liquid that is commonly used as a disinfectant. It is also an effective solvent for cleaning oil-based paints and varnishes, and is less harmful than mineral spirits.
To use isopropyl alcohol, apply it to a clean cloth and wipe down the surface you wish to clean. For cleaning paint brushes and rollers, soak them in isopropyl alcohol for a few minutes, then rinse with water.
Natural Way to Clean Your Brushes: Alternative to Mineral Spirits
Oil, Soap and Water
There is a natural way to clean your painting tools that requires 3 basic ingredients. With a bit of elbow grease, you can avoid using toxic chemicals to clean and remove paint from your brushes and rollers.
Better for you, your family and the environment to go all natural.
This is especially important if you have high quality brushes or ones with natural bristles. The oil, soap and water will clean your brushes without harsh chemicals and solvents.
The use of oil ensures to preserve your bristles.
Citrus solvent is derived from citrus fruits and is a non-toxic, biodegradable alternative to mineral spirits. It is effective at cleaning and thinning oil-based paints and varnishes, and is also used in the cleaning industry as a degreaser.
To use citrus solvent, simply apply it to a clean cloth and wipe down the surface you wish to clean. For cleaning paint brushes and rollers, soak them in citrus solvent for a few minutes, then rinse with water.
Soy-based solvents are made from soybeans and are a renewable and biodegradable alternative to mineral spirits. They are effective at cleaning and thinning oil-based paints and varnishes, and are also used in the printing industry as a cleaning solvent.
To use soy-based solvents, apply them to a clean cloth and wipe down the surface you wish to clean. For cleaning paint brushes and rollers, soak them in soy-based solvent for a few minutes, then rinse with water.
Vegetable oil can be used as a natural solvent for cleaning oil-based paints and varnishes. It is non-toxic and biodegradable, but may not be as effective as other alternatives.
To use vegetable oil, simply apply it to a clean cloth and wipe down the surface you wish to clean.
Are there any downsides to using natural alternatives to mineral spirits?
One downside to using natural alternatives to mineral spirits is that they may not work as quickly as petroleum-based solvents.
Steps to Cleaning Your Brushes Naturally
Use our step by step guide and handy infographic below to help you clean your brushes naturally.
#1. Get rid of excess paint from your brush
#2. Dip the brush in a small container filled with oil
#3. Make sure that the oil coats all of the bristles
#4. Remove your brush from the oil and clean it again, removing the oil and excess paint
#5. Repeat step #4 a few times until no more paint comes out of the brush
#6. Hand wash the bristles in a gentle, natural soap such as glycerin or castile soap.
#7. Repeat step #6 if you need to
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What Can I use to Clean My Paint Sprayer?
There is no straight answer for this. Cleaning your indoor paint sprayer properly depends on the manufacturers directions and the type of paint you’ve been spraying.
Consult your manual before spraying to ensure you know the right way to clean it.
Are Mineral Spirits Toxic?
Yes. Mineral spirits give off nasty fumes that pollute the air and you should not breathe them in. Instead, you should wear a respirator when handling chemicals.
If you get mineral spirits on your skin, you should wash it off immediately. It will cause rashes, skin irritation and possibly burns.
Always wear gloves, safety goggles and a respirator when handling toxic chemicals. The alternatives to mineral spirits, for the most part, are not as toxic.
What are the Environmental Concerns with Mineral Spirits?
One of the biggest environmental concerns with mineral spirits is that it is derived from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource. When it is used, mineral spirits can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, contributing to air pollution. Additionally, if mineral spirits are not disposed of properly, they can contaminate soil and water.
There are a number of alternative to mineral spirits solutions to choose from, if mineral spirits are banned in your area. You don’t have to look too far to find a good mineral spirit substitute.
- What can I use Instead of Mineral Spirits? What is an Alternative to Mineral Spirits?
- Are Mineral Spirits Banned in your Area?
- Mineral Spirits Substitutes: What is Similar to Mineral Spirits?
- Natural Way to Clean Your Brushes: Alternative to Mineral Spirits
- Are there any downsides to using natural alternatives to mineral spirits?
- Steps to Cleaning Your Brushes Naturally
- Join our Email List for more Tips and Info!
- What Can I use to Clean My Paint Sprayer?
- Are Mineral Spirits Toxic?
- What are the Environmental Concerns with Mineral Spirits?
Denatured alcohol, acetone, turpentine, charcoal lighter fluid.
Yes, acetone is also a solvent and can be used for degreasing and general cleaning.
Yes, it’s important to always wear gloves and protective eyewear when using any type of solvent, whether it is natural or petroleum-based. Additionally, make sure to use these solvents in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.
Yes, natural alternatives to mineral spirits can be just as effective in cleaning and preparing surfaces for painting. They may require more elbow grease or more time to work, but they are a safer and more eco-friendly choice.