Does Paint Thinner Remove Paint? (How-To)

If you are wondering if you can remove paint using paint thinner, you’ll love to read this article as it discusses everything you need to know about the topic.

Paint thinner can remove paint. Paint thinner refers to different solvents that are designed to dissolve or liquefy paint particles. You just have to give the thinner enough time to soak into the paint and dissolve it. After this happens, you can easily wipe off the dissolved paint from the surface.

However, you should know that certain surfaces will get damaged if exposed to paint thinner. Such surfaces are usually porous and sensitive to chemicals.

So what type of surface can you use paint thinner on? Also, how long does it take to remove paint using paint thinner? The answers to these questions and more will be revealed in this post. So, let’s dive in.

Does Paint Thinner Remove Dried Paint?

Paint thinner does remove different types of dried paints. This is because paint thinner is usually strong enough to dissolve dried paint. The paint thinner when applied soaks into the paint and dissolves the paint particles turning the paint from solid to liquid. In its liquid state, the paint can be easily wiped off with a rag.

But, not all types of paint thinners can remove dried paint especially dried oil-based paints and sealants. To remove these types of dried paint, you’ll need an acetone-based paint thinner or lacquer thinner.

It’s usually difficult to remove dried paint for two reasons. The first reason is that dried paint is usually hard and the second reason is that dried paint would have fully adhered to the surface. Since the dried paint is hard and fully bonded to the surface, it would be difficult to scrape or remove the dried paint without damaging the surface. But not if you use a paint thinner.

When you apply paint thinner on dried paint, the paint thinner will soak into the paint and break the bond between the surface and the paint coating. With the paint coating separated from the surface, the paint thinner will then dissolve the dried paint turning it from a solid paint coating to a semi-solid or wet layer.

This way, you’ll be able to remove the paint easily and the surface will not be damaged. However, you should know that lacquer thinner or acetone-based paint thinner is your best bet to remove dried paint because they are more powerful than other types of paint thinner.

How Long Does It Take For Paint Thinner To Remove Paint?

How Long Does It Take For Paint Thinner To Remove Paint?

It takes between 15 minutes and 30 minutes for paint thinner to remove paint. On average, paint thinner dissolves and removes paint from a surface in about 20 minutes. You should know that the time it takes for the paint thinner to remove the paint depends on the type of paint thinner, the type of paint, and the number of coats.

It usually takes paint thinner about 20 minutes to remove paint from a surface. This is because the paint thinner has to soak into the paint to remove it. The 20-minute time frame is how long it takes for the thinner to soak into the paint and dissolve it.

The type of paint you are trying to remove is the biggest factor that determines how long it will take to remove the paint. For instance, it can take paint thinner about 30 minutes to remove oil-based paint. This is because oil-based paints are thick and moisture resistant.

So it will take some time for the paint thinner to penetrate the moisture-resistant layer and dissolve the oil-based paint. Latex or water-based paints on the other hand can be removed in less than 15 minutes since the paint is not as thick or hard as oil-based paint.

The type of paint thinner also matters. Some paint thinners are stronger than others and as such will remove paint quicker. Lacquer thinner will remove paint quicker than any other type of paint thinner. This is because lacquer thinner is designed to dissolve tough paints like lacquer and varnish. As such, the lacquer thinner will work rapidly in removing paint.

Next, let’s check out how to remove paint easily with lacquer thinner.

How To Use Paint Thinner To Remove Paint? (5 Steps)

Removing paint with paint thinner is not difficult but the task can get very messy if you don’t follow the right steps. Luckily, this guide will show you how to do this in 5 simple steps. But first, we need a few tools and supplies:

  • Rags
  • Paint thinner
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Degreaser
  • A soft scrubbing brush

Now, let’s get to work. Here is a 5-step guide for removing paint with paint thinner:

1. Wipe and Clean The Paint

Wipe and Clean The Paint

The first step is to wipe and clean the painted surface. This is to get rid of debris and filth on the painted surface. If the surface is filthy, the paint thinner when applied will not work properly because it will have to get through the filth to get to the paint.

To clean the surface, use a rag to wipe the painted surface. If there is grease or stubborn stains on the paint, you can remove them using a degreaser.

2. Apply The Paint Thinner

Apply The Paint Thinner

When the painted surface is clean, you can apply the paint thinner over it. To do this, you should soak a rag in the paint thinner and use the damp rag to wipe the painted surface.

If you pour the paint thinner directly on the surface, the concentration of the paint thinner will be too high and this can ruin the surface material especially if the surface is made from wood.

3. Leave The Paint For About 25 Minutes

Leave The Paint For About 25 Minutes

After applying the paint thinner, you should leave it for about 25 minutes so it can work its magic. This gives the paint thinner enough time to soak into and dissolve the paint.

When you notice that the paint is starting to form bubbles, this means that the paint thinner is dissolving the paint. When the paint is fully dissolved, the paint coating will turn liquid or semi-solid. This is when you can move to the next step.

4. Wipe or Scrape The Paint Off

Wipe or Scrape The Paint Off

When the paint has turned liquid or semi-solid, it shows that the paint thinner has dissolved the paint and you can wipe or scrape the dissolved paint off of the surface.

You can use a rag or paint scraper for this task. If there is still leftover paint on the surface that hasn’t been fully dissolved, you can reapply the paint thinner and wait for a few minutes before wiping the paint off.

5. Remove Residue On The Surface

Remove Residue On The Surface

After removing the paint, you also need to remove any paint thinner residue on the surface. If you don’t remove the paint thinner residue after removing the paint, the paint thinner can damage the surface.

Don’t forget, paint thinners are active solvents that can damage sensitive surfaces. So the best thing to do after using paint thinner to remove paint is to remove the leftover paint thinner.

To do this, you should mix some dish soap in warm water and then use the mixture to wash the surface. This gets rid of paint thinner residue and makes the surface clean.

Does Paint Thinner Remove Wood Stain?

Paint thinner can remove wood stain. This is because wood stains have a similar makeup as regular paints so the paint thinner can also dissolve the wood stain.

However, removing wood stain with paint thinner is different from removing wood stain. This is because wood stain penetrates deeply into the wood while paints don’t.

So if you want to remove a wood stain with paint thinner, you need to get the paint thinner inside the wood so the thinner can remove the wood stain that is inside the wood.

The best way to do this is to soak a cloth in paint thinner. Then use the soaked rag to massage the surface in a repeated circular motion. As you do this, the paint thinner is gradually rubbed into the surface where it will remove the wood stain. You also need to allow the paint thinner to soak in the wood for at least 20 minutes so the thinner can fully remove the wood stain.

Types of Surfaces You Can Remove Paint With Paint Thinner?

Next, let’s check out some common materials and surfaces to see if you can remove paint from them using paint thinner. The first on the list is your clothes and fabric.


Paint thinner does remove paint from clothes. However, not every type of cloth or fabric will accept paint thinner.

Clothes made from silk and wool for instance will be easily damaged by paint thinner because these materials are very sensitive. So always check the type of cloth or fabric to know if you can use paint thinner on it before doing so. This helps to prevent discoloration and damage to the cloth.

To remove paint from cloth or fabric using paint thinner, you have to first scrape off as much of the paint as you can. You can use a plastic putty knife for this. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to scrape off all the paint from the cloth. But, don’t worry about that because the paint thinner will take care of the rest.

After scraping the paint, you need to use a rag and a little paint thinner to massage the affected spot on the cloth. Then leave the spot for a few minutes for the paint to come off. When the paint is fully off the cloth, ensure to wash the cloth twice and rinse in warm water to remove excess paint thinner.


Paint thinner can be used to remove paint from wood but it’s best not to use paint thinner on very porous or open wood.

This is because such wooden surfaces will soak and absorb the paint thinner excessively. This can cause rotting and discoloration in the wood. Also, it’s always advised to use only mineral spirits (a type of paint thinner) on wood. Other types of paint thinner can damage the wood.


Paint thinner can be used to remove paint from carpets but this depends on the type of carpet.

Carpets made from fur, animal skin, wool, and cotton can be damaged if exposed to a high amount of paint thinner. So it’s always better to test the paint thinner on a part of the carpet before using it fully.

Also, you are to blot or dab the carpet with paint thinner. To do this, you need to dip a clean rag in paint thinner and then use the damp part of the rag to gently dab or touch the affected (or painted) spot on the carpet. This helps to prevent excess thinner on the carpet.


Paint thinner can remove paint from concrete. Paint thinner is safe to use on concrete because concrete surfaces are tough enough to handle paint thinner.

However, ensure to scrub the concrete after removing the paint to get rid of paint thinner residue. If you leave paint thinner on the concrete without scrubbing it off, the thinner may etch or eat into the concrete material.

Paint Brushes?

Paint thinner removes paint brilliantly from paintbrushes. Professional painters even soak their paintbrushes and painting equipment in a bucket of paint thinner after painting. This helps to remove leftover paint on the brush so you can do this too.


Paint thinner can remove paint from plastics but should only be used on hard plastics like chairs and tables.

Soft plastic or plastic that has a rubber-like texture shouldn’t be exposed to paint thinner as the paint thinner can easily damage the plastic material. Also, it’s best to use mineral spirits paint thinner on plastic.

What Other Product Can You Use To Remove Paint?

Here is a list of other products that you can use to remove paint asides from paint thinner:

  • Acetone – for oil removing and water-based paints
  • Baking soda – for removing water-based paints
  • Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl – for removing water-based paints and some oil-based paints
  • Paint stripper – for removing oil-based and water-based paints
  • Vinegar – for removing water-based paints.

Tip: Always check if the product can be used on the painted surface before applying it to prevent damages and discoloration on the surface.

Final Words

In summary, paint thinner can remove paint but you need to be sure of the type of paint thinner before you use it.

You also need to check if the paint thinner can be used on the painted surface as some surfaces are too sensitive for paint thinner and solvent.

Remember to leave enough time to allow the paint thinner to soak into and dissolve the paint. This will ensure that the thinner removes all the paint on the surface.

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