Can Mineral Spirits Remove Paint? (How-To)

Mineral spirits is used for cleaning and getting rid of stains from surfaces. But, can mineral spirits remove paint?

Mineral spirits can remove paint, stain, and sealers from different surfaces, including metal and concrete. Mineral spirit is a solvent that is made up of petroleum distillates. This makes the compound strong enough to dissolve and remove paint.

It’s also safe to use mineral spirits because it has been refined and doesn’t have toxic chemicals that can harm you. 

However, this is only a snippet. This post reveals more about using mineral spirits to remove paint, including the steps involved in carrying out the task. So let’s dive in.

Removing Dried Paint With Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits will remove dried paint from surfaces by breaking and dissolving paint particles. Once the paint particles are dissolved, you can wipe off the dried paint from the surface. Mineral spirits also dissolve the polymer and separate the paint pigments making the paint lose its bond and fall off. 

Removing dried paint, stain, or sealant from a surface is hard. That’s because the paint has cured and hardened over time. But, since mineral spirits is made from petroleum distillation and is heavily refined, it removes dried paint easier. 

However, mineral spirit is better at removing dried oil-based paints. That’s because mineral spirit is a mild irritant with active petroleum distillates more suited to dissolving and removing oil paints.

Mineral spirits also removes dried water-based paint. But, you should try removing dried water-based paint with a weaker solvent such as rubbing alcohol. You can use mineral spirits for latex paints that won’t come off with rubbing alcohol.

Water-based paints are dissolved by mineral spirits within minutes by separating the paint pigments. When the paint pigments are separated, the latex paint will lose its bond on the surface and fall off.

However, mineral spirits won’t remove dried spray paint. It can only remove fresh spray paint. 

Related Read: Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner?

How To Use Mineral Spirits To Remove Paint?

Removing paint or a finish from a surface using mineral spirit is effective, but a task that also requires caution and the right steps. But before we go into detail on how to remove paint, here are a few tools you will need:

  • Mineral Spirit
  • A Pair Of Work Gloves
  • A Face Mask
  • A Bucket Of Warm Water
  • Clean Rags
  • A Scrubbing Brush
  • Mild Detergent
  • A Paint Scraper (Or A Putty Knife)

1. Clean The Affected Surface

The first thing you want to do is to clean the painted surface before you apply mineral spirit.

First, clean the affected surface with a rag. Cleaning the painted surface before removing it helps to get a clearer view of where the paint is. Especially, if you are working on a dusty surface.

To clean, wipe the surface with a rag.

2. Scrape The Paint Off

Once you clean the surface, you have to scrape the paint off by using a putty knife.

Use a paint scraper to remove some of paint from the surface. You can also use a towel, metallic putty knife, or any flat object to remove paint off the surface. While scraping the paint off, don’t use a lot of force, or you may ruin the surface by putting dents and holes in it.

Scraping paint before using mineral spirit helps reduce the amount of paint the mineral spirit has to remove. This also helps to reduce the amount of mineral spirit required. For the record, mineral spirits is expensive.

You shouldn’t remove all the paint from the surface with a paint scraper, just some parts of it. Vacuum the spot or remove dust with a soft brush when you have scrapped most of the paint off.

3. Apply Mineral Spirit On The Paint

Now, apply mineral spirit to the paint and wait a few minutes.

You can apply mineral spirits directly to the paint or using a spray bottle and a rag. If there’s little paint left after scraping, you can douse a rag with mineral spirits and use the damp rag over the paint. If there’s a lot of paint left after scraping, spray the mineral spirits or pour it directly over the paint. 

The amount of mineral sprits you must use depends on the surface type. If you are removing paint from a sensitive surface or material like fabric or plywood, mix the mineral spirit with water to dilute the concentration. But you can apply the mineral spirit directly if it’s a tough surface such as concrete.

After applying the mineral spirit, let it sit on the surface for a few minutes. 

Related Read: Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol To Remove Paint?

4. Wipe The Paint Off

After applying mineral spirit to the paint, take a rag and wipe down the paint.

After a few minutes, the paint will peel off, even without wiping the surface. This is because the mineral spirits will dissolve the paint pigments making the paint lose its bond.

Some paint types might liquefy (turn liquid) when exposed to mineral spirits. When the paint starts to fall off, change color, change consistency, or liquefy, it’s time to wipe it off.

Use a clean damp rag to wipe the paint and the mineral spirit off the surface. After wiping the paint off, check if all the paint is gone. If you have leftover paint on the surface, apply more mineral spirit to the paint and wipe again.

When satisfied with the result, you can move on to the next step.

5. Clean The Surface With Warm Soapy Water

Once you remove the paint by using mineral spirit, you should clean the surface again.

Once you remove the paint, you have to clean the surface with warm soapy water. To do so, mix detergent with warm water and use the mixture to clean the surface. 

If you are working on a porous surface, soak a rag in the warm soapy water and wipe the surface with the rag. If you are working on a hard surface like concrete, you can wash the surface with soapy water and a scrubbing brush.

The reason for washing the surface with soap is to remove any leftover mineral spirit on the surface. 

Cleaning Painting Equipment with Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits can remove paint stains, grease, slime, and grime from different surfaces. It can also act as a strong disinfectant to remove stains caused by mold and bacteria. That’s because mineral spirits contains active solvents such as petroleum distillate.

You can use mineral spirits to clean surfaces and workspaces after heavy-duty tasks. Many painters use mineral spirits as a cleaning agent after painting. Mineral spirits is used to clean paint brushes, rollers, paint sprayers, and other painting equipment. 

To clean painting equipment with mineral spirit:

  1. Soak the equipment inside a bucket or bowl of mineral spirit for a few minutes.
  2. Use a brush to scrub and remove the loose stains off the equipment.
  3. After, soak the equipment in warm soapy water to remove any leftover mineral spirit on the equipment before storing them.

Related Read: Does Nail Polish Remover Dissolve Paint?

Different Surfaces You Can Remove Paint From

Concrete

Mineral spirits removes paint from concrete by dissolving the paint pigment. It also removes tar and other tough substances from concrete. Besides removing paint, mineral spirits doesn’t etch, stain, or damage concrete surfaces.

You can use mineral spirits on concrete to remove oil-based, acrylic, and water-based paints. Mineral spirits dissolve the paint pigments and polymer. Once the polymer (the binding agent) is dissolved, the paint can be wiped off the concrete. 

To remove paint from concrete, pour the mineral spirits directly on the painted surface and leave it until you notice changes in the paint. When the paint appears different, use a scrubbing brush to scrub the paint off the concrete. You can add more mineral spirit to the concrete if you still notice paint on it.

When the paint is completely off, wash the concrete with warm soapy water and leave it to dry.

Related Read: Does White Spirit Remove Paint?

Metal

Mineral spirit removes paint from different surfaces, including wood. But, will mineral spirits remove paint from metal? Let's see.

Mineral spirits can remove paint from metal. You can remove all metallic paints and rust-oleum paint using mineral spirits. However, mineral spirits isn’t the best choice for metal. That’s because pure mineral spirits is highly concentrated and can corrode metal surfaces. 

Also, after using mineral spirits on a surface, you must clean the surface with warm water to remove mineral spirits residue. But, warm soapy water increases the chances of rust on metal. 

To remove paint from metal, use a less potent solvent such as rubbing alcohol or strip the paint with a sander. Chemical-based paint strippers are also not ideal for use on metal.

Related Read: Can Goo Gone Remove Paint From Clothes?

Wood

Mineral spirits will remove paint from wood. The solvent is strong enough to dissolve and remove different types of paints from wooden surfaces.

However, you shouldn’t use mineral spirits on chemically treated wood because the petroleum distillates in the mineral spirit might react harshly to the chemicals used in treating the wood. This reaction might damage the wooden surface.

Also, the mineral spirits shouldn’t soak into the wood. That means you shouldn’t use mineral spirits on porous wood like Cedar. If mineral spirits penetrates deeply into porous wood, the wood can get discolored or stained, and paints won’t adhere to that wood in the future.  

So, mineral spirits can remove paint from wood, but the solvent shouldn’t soak into the wood as it can damage it. 

Before using mineral spirits on wood, you must mix the mineral spirits with water to dilute the concentration of the solvent. Then, you can use the mixture on the wood to remove paint. But, don’t let it sit for too long on the wooden surface. 

Other alternatives to mineral spirits for wood are: rubbing alcohol or paint strippers designed for wood. 

Related Read: How To Dissolve Latex Paint?

Brick

Mineral spirits can remove paint from bricks by liquefying the paint. Painted bricks are usually stripped using mineral spirits or paint strippers.

To remove paint from bricks, douse a rag with mineral spirits and use the damp rag to wipe the brick from top to bottom. You can also spray the mineral spirit into the bricks. Allow the mineral spirit to soak the brick for a minute, then scrub the brick with a brush or a sponge.

Mineral spirits can be used as a cleaning agent to remove grime from the brick. This means mineral spirits is safe to use on bricks as it won’t damage them. 

Related Read: Can Magic Eraser Remove Paint?

Final Words

Overall, mineral spirit is an effective solvent that can remove any type of paint from any surface. But before you apply mineral spirits, inspect the surface to know if you can use mineral spirits on the intended surface.

Surfaces like metal, porous wood, and fabric shouldn’t be stripped using undiluted mineral spirit. But if the surface wouldn’t be damaged or smeared by petroleum distillates, you can use mineral spirit on it.

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