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. It is a solvent that is made up of petroleum distillates. This makes the compound strong enough to dissolve and remove paint.

Dried Paint

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

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

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

It also removes dried water-based paint, but it’s too strong for it. So, you should try using a weaker solvent, such as rubbing alcohol, first. Water-based paints are dissolved by mineral spirits within minutes by separating the pigments. When the pigments are separated, the coating will lose its bond on the surface and fall off.

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

Here are the tools you 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 surface before 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 the coating from the surface. You can also use a towel, metallic putty knife, or any flat object to remove it off the surface. While scraping it off, don’t use a lot of force, or you may ruin the surface by creating dents and holes in it.

Scraping helps reduce the amount of paint on the coating. This also helps to reduce the amount of mineral spirit required. For the record, mineral spirits is expensive.

You shouldn’t remove all the coating from the surface with a scraper, just some parts of it. Vacuum the spot or remove dust with a soft brush when you are done scrapping.

3. Apply Mineral Spirit

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

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

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 it with water to dilute the concentration. But you can apply it directly if it’s a tough surface such as concrete.

After applying it, 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 pigments and particles making the coating lose its bond.

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

Use a clean damp rag to do it. After wiping it off, check if all the coating is gone. If you have leftovers on the surface, apply more mineral spirit 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.

You have to clean the surface with warm soapy water to remove the residue of the mineral spirit. If you don’t, the next coating won’t still well over that surface.

To clean it, 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 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.

Related Read: Does Nail Polish Remover Dissolve Paint?

Different Surfaces You Can Remove Paint From

Concrete

Mineral spirits strips all types of paints from concrete by dissolving the pigment and particles. It also removes tar and other tough substances from it. Also, it doesn’t etch, stain, or damage concrete surfaces. 

To do so:

  1. Pour the mineral spirits directly on the surface and leave it until you notice changes in the coating.
  2. When the coating appears different, use a scrubbing brush to scrub it iff.
  3. When the finish is removed, wash the surface 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 all metalic and rust-oleum paints from metal. However, you shouldn’t use it as it can corrode the metal surface. If you do use it, you must remove the residue as fast as possible to limit the chances of rust. 

Related Read: Can Goo Gone Remove Paint From Clothes?

Wood

You can strip all types of paints from wood using mineral spirits. However, you shouldn’t use it on chemically treated wood surfaces as they aren’t compatible. Also, it shouldn’t soak into the wood pores as it can damage the wood by discoloring and staining it or by making it unpaintable. 

You also must mix the mineral spirits with water to dilute its concentration. This is to avoid any damage to the wood. 

Related Read: How To Dissolve Latex Paint?

Brick

Mineral spirits can remove paint from bricks by liquefying the coating. 

To do so:

  1. Douse a rag with mineral spirits and use the damped rag to wipe the brick from top to bottom.
  2. You can also spray it into the bricks.
  3. Allow the solvent to soak the brick for a minute, then scrub the brick with a brush or a sponge.
  4. Use water to clean the bricks.

Related Read: Can Magic Eraser Remove Paint?

Painting Equipment

You can use mineral spirits as a cleaning agent after painting. It can clean paintbrushes, rollers, sprayers, and other painting equipment. 

To clean them:

  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 residue on the equipment before storing them.

Final Words

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

Surfaces like metal, porous wood, and fabric shouldn’t be stripped using undiluted mineral spirit.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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