Alternative to Mineral Spirits Solutions

New environmental standards means that us DIYers need to find a new alternative to mineral spirits for our painting needs. 

Chemicals are slowly being banned due to their toxic nature to both people and the environment. 

Substitutes are available which work just as well and we review them below for you.

alternatives to mineral spirits
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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.

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 5 alternative to mineral spirits solutions available.

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Charcoal lighter fluid – actually mineral spirits rebranded
  • Acetone (think nail polish remover)
  • Turpentine
  • Oil, soap and water (natural ways to clean up paint)

Mineral Spirits Substitutes: What is Similar to Mineral Spirits?  

Denatured Alcohol

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 can be used as a substitute for paint thinner.  You can use it instead of mineral spirits to thin oil paint and clean your painting tools.

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.

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. 

You can clean your brushes with oil, soap and water.  For the oil you will want either safflower or linseed, whichever you have on hand or is cheaper for you. 

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. 

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

alternatives to mineral spirits

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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.


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. 

Quick FAQs

What can I use instead of mineral spirits?

Denatured alcohol, acetone, turpentine, charcoal lighter fluid.

Can I use acetone instead of mineral spirits?

Yes, acetone is also a solvent and can be used for degreasing and general cleaning.

4 thoughts on “Alternative to Mineral Spirits Solutions”

    • Hi Thomas, Thanks for your feedback and your keen eye! We will take a look and get it fixed up. Thanks for reading ~ John

  1. In my oil painting classes at University, we always used mineral spirits to clean our brushes and materials. At least in my experience, the brushes were never damaged by the mineral spirits. Will any of the alternatives listed damage my brushes, especially since they have always been cleaned in only one way? Will I need new brushes if I start a different cleaning method?

    • Hey Coleen,

      I can’t speak to paint brushes used by artists (they might be made with diff materials than my brushes) but these alternative to mineral spirits do work on paint brushes that professional painters use on home improvement projects without harming the bristles or results. I would double check with the manufacturer of your brushes to see what they recommend. Thanks for reading – John

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