Does White Spirit Remove Paint? (How-To)

Unwanted paint splatters on surfaces, and paint stains on clothes can make you cringe. Since white spirit is effective in removing stains, can it remove paint? 

White spirit will remove paint from different surfaces including concrete, wood, and tiles. But the solvent works better on fresh paint.

If the paint has hardened or cured, it can’t be removed with white spirit because white spirit contains 30% alcohol. This means it’s not strong enough to dissolve and remove paint that has cured.

But that’s not all. This post reveals more about using white spirit on paint including the steps to execute the task. Let’s dive in.

Will White Spirit Remove Dried Paint?

In most cases, the white spirit will not remove dried paint. This is because white spirit is a mild solvent containing just 30% alcohol. This makes white spirit incapable of removing dried paint stains or coatings.

Cured oil-based paints especially clear coats and varnishes can’t be removed using white spirit alone.

However, white spirit can be used to kick-start the paint removal process. The solvent can be used alongside stronger solvents and paint-removers to remove dried paint. White spirit can be used with paint scrappers and scrubbing brushes to remove dried paint from a surface.

When it comes to removing dried paint from a surface, the best solvent to use is usually an alcohol-based solvent. This is because alcohol is strong enough to dissolve and remove dried paint from any surface.

Alcohol-based solvents like acetone and rubbing alcohol or isopropyl are great for removing dried paint. White spirit on the other hand is not alcohol-based. Though the solvent contains about 30% alcohol, white spirit has a larger volume of petroleum distillates. And, that doesn’t work great with dried paint.

Solvents that contain a high volume of petroleum distillates like white spirit and mineral spirit aren’t great for removing dried paint. These solvents are used as paint thinners because they don’t have a high percentage of alcohol in them.

White spirits will however work well in removing fresh paint stains or paint coatings. If after painting, you notice paint stains on the floor, walls, or any other non-porous surface, you can remove the paint using white spirit before it cures.

You can also use white spirit to clean painting equipment like rollers, paintbrushes, and spray guns immediately after painting.

If the paint is fresh, white spirit will remove it. But if the paint is allowed to cure or dry fully, then you will need a stronger solvent, usually an alcohol-based solvent.

Related Read: Can Mineral Spirits Remove Paint?

How To Use White Spirit To Remove Paint?

Removing paint with white spirit isn’t a tough task. But like every other solvent, you need to be careful while using white spirit to prevent long-lasting damages to the surface.

Don’t worry. This guide will provide you with all you need to know about removing paint with white spirit.

Here are the tools that you need:

  • A bottle or keg of white spirit
  • Paint scraper or putty knife
  • Dish Soap
  • Warm Water
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Clean rags

Here is a quick rundown on how to do it:

  1. Wipe The Affected Spot
  2. Scrape The Paint Off The Surface
  3. Apply White Spirit
  4. Scrub The Remaining Paint Off (For Dried Paint)
  5. Wash The Spot With Warm Soapy Water
  6. Clean The Affected Spot

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Wipe The Affected Spot

Wipe The Affected Spot

The first step is to wipe the affected spot with a clean rag. This is an important step because it helps you to know the type of paint stain or coating you are working on.

After wiping, if the paint stain or coating has a glossy appearance, then it most likely is an oil-based paint. If the paint doesn’t have any gloss, it’s usually flat latex paint or unsealed latex paint.

You can also know the type of paint it is by putting few drops of water on the paint. If the water turns black after a while, it’s an oil-based paint. If the water turns whitish or remains clear, it’s latex or water-based paint.

Wiping the affected spot first also helps with fresh paint. You might be lucky and not even need to use white spirit. If the paint is still very fresh, you can remove it by just wiping it off. 

2. Scrape The Paint Off The Surface

Scrape The Paint Off The Surface

The next step is to use a paint scraper or metallic putty knife to scrape the paint off. This step helps to remove the bulk of the paint so the white spirit you will apply later can work more effectively.

This also works for dried paints. As stated earlier, white spirit doesn’t usually remove dried paint. But if you scrape the bulk of the dried paint off first, you might just be lucky.

To scrape the paint off, position the paint scraper or putty knife at a 30 or 45-degree angle. This helps to get the tip of the paint scraper underneath the paint layer so the paint is easier to remove.

When you have positioned the paint scraper, push it underneath the paint coating and scrape the paint off. You will need to do this repeatedly because the paint will not come off once.

3. Apply The White Spirit

Apply The White Spirit

You usually wouldn’t be able to scrape all the paint off even if it’s a fresh paint stain. But not to worry, the white spirit will take care of the rest.

To apply the white spirit, you can use a spray bottle or a rag. Usually, a rag will do just fine. Apply the white spirits on a rag, then use the damp rag to dab the affected spot repeatedly.

You can also pour the white spirit directly on the affected spot. But, this should only be done on non-porous surfaces like glass, plastic, and concrete. This is because non-porous surfaces are impermeable. This means that the white spirit when poured will not soak into the surface or penetrate.

Porous surfaces on the other hand like wood should just be dabbed. This is because wood and other porous surfaces have tiny slits and holes in them that the white spirit can penetrate through and into the material. If white spirit soaks inside your wood, the result usually isn’t pleasant. It can cause discoloration, staining, and other issues.

When you have applied the white spirit on the paint, let it sit for about 10 minutes. You will notice some changes in the paint after this time.

The paint could have changed color, dissolved, or even appear wrinkled. Any of these means the white spirit has worked its magic.

4. Scrub The Remaining Paint Off (For Dried Paint)

Scrub The Remaining Paint Off (For Dried Paint)

If you are working on dried paint, applying the white spirit on the affected spot alone will not remove the paint. You’ll need to take part in the paint removal as well.

For dried paint, use a scrubbing brush after applying the white spirit to scrub the paint off. This helps to loosen the paint bond so it’s easier to remove.

Let the white spirit settle for about 10 minutes. Then scrub the spot with a hard brush or sponge repeatedly. You should see the paint coming off. If it’s coming off, then that’s a good sign.

You can apply more white spirit and scrub again till the paint is completely off.

5. Wash The Affected Spot

Wash The Affected Spot

White spirits shouldn’t be allowed to soak into porous surfaces. But even non-porous surfaces can be stained if the white spirit is left on the spot for too long.

So, after removing the paint, mix dish soap and warm water in a bowl. Then use the warm soapy water to wash the affected spot. This helps to get rid of any leftover white spirit on the spot so it doesn’t discolor or damage the material.

After washing the spot, rinse with clean water up to 3 times. Then you should clean the affected spot with a clean towel. Ensure all the water and moisture on the spot are cleaned off. Then leave the spot to dry. When it has dried, you should inspect the surface.

If the surface looks clean and paint-free, then you have successfully removed the paint with white spirit.

But if the paint is still on the surface, don’t sweat it. This just means that the white spirit wasn’t strong enough to remove the paint. It also means that you will need a stronger solvent.

6. Last Resort

Last Resort

For stubborn paint stains that don’t come off after using white spirit, you should use an alcohol-based solvent. Alcohol works better on dried paint stains. You can use acetone or rubbing alcohol to remove the stubborn stain. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to pull out the big guns.

Use a chemical-based paint stripper on the surface. Usually, no paint can withstand a chemical-based paint stripper.

Chemical-based paint strippers are specifically designed to remove even the toughest of paint stains or coatings from a variety of surfaces.

Does White Spirit Remove Stains?

White spirit is an effective stain remover that works well on different types of stains. The solvent is used as a cleaning agent in households and workplaces. White spirit will remove fresh stains from any surface. For dried stains, use the white spirit and a brush to remove them.

It’s almost impossible not to notice stains, especially after a task. However, stains including grease and other oil stains can be removed using white spirit.

To remove stains with white spirit, apply the white spirit directly to the stain. Then wait a few minutes for the white spirit to be absorbed. After, wipe the stain and the white spirit with a rag.

Stubborn stains can be removed using white spirit and a scrubbing brush or sponge.

After removing the stain, wash the affected spot with dish soap and water to remove the white spirit residue from the surface.

Does White Spirit Remove Paint From Concrete?

White spirit will remove paint from concrete surfaces like walls, floors, and slabs. However, the solvent has to be used on the paint while it’s still fresh.

White spirit will struggle to remove dried paint from concrete. This is because dried paint on concrete would have hardened. A strong solvent will be required to dissolve the dried paint first and then remove it.

White spirit is also safe to use on concrete. This is because concrete surfaces are non-porous. This makes it impossible for the white spirit to penetrate the concrete and damage it.

To remove paint from concrete using white spirit, you need to scrape off the paint first. This helps to loosen the paint bond from the concrete surface. It also helps to remove the bulk of the paint from the concrete.

After you can apply white spirit to the paint. The white spirit will dissolve the remaining paint making it easier to remove from the concrete.

Related Read: Does Goo Gone Remove Dried Paint?

Will White Spirit Remove Paint From Wood?

White spirit will remove paint from wooden surfaces including furniture. The solvent is strong enough to remove wet or fresh paint from wooden surfaces and some dried paints too.

However, white spirit should be used carefully on wooden surfaces especially fresh and treated wooden surfaces to prevent damages.

White spirit is better suited for removing fresh or wet paint from wood. Dried paint used on wood will prove very difficult to remove using white spirit. This is because the paint will have cured making it hard and resistant to the white spirit.

To remove paint from wood using white spirit, clean the wooden surface first. Then scrape off the bulk of the paint using a plastic paint scraper or putty knife. Metallic scrappers will dent the wood.

After scrapping the paint, apply the white spirit directly on the affected spot and wait for about 10 minutes for the white spirit to be absorbed. Then wipe off the paint and the white vinegar with a clean rag.

Tip: Never wash or pour the white spirit on wood.

This is because wooden surfaces are porous and the white vinegar can easily sift through the wood fibers and soak into the material.

This will cause staining and gradual deterioration of the wood. It will also make it very difficult for paint or varnish to stick to the wood layer.

Tip: Don’t use white spirit on treated wood.

Wooden surfaces that have been treated with chemicals or sealed with varnish or lacquer don’t usually react well to white spirit.

This is because these wooden surfaces have been treated with chemicals that can clash with the petroleum distillates in the white spirit and damage the wood.

Removing White Spirits From Different Surfaces


White spirit can remove paint from brick, but only if the paint is still wet. Also, you should apply the white spirit on the brick by using a rag and not pour it directly on the brick surface. Bricks are porous and if they absorb white spirit the brick might discolor. 


White spirit can remove paint from metal, but you need to scrape the paint using a paint scraper first. Remove most of the paint using a paint scraper from metal and then apply white spirits. Leave the white spirits for 10 minutes and then clean the metal surface using warm water. The metal will be clean and free of paint. 


White spirits is commonly used to remove paint from brushes. Pour white spirit into a clean bucket and put the brush inside the bucket and leave it there for 10 minutes. Move the brush around the bucket. After 10 minutes, get the brush out of the white spirit bucket and clean it with warm water. 

If the paint has dried on the brush, then pour some warm water into the brush before applying mineral spirits — this works best for water-based paints.   


You can remove wet paints from the carpet by using white spirits. Pour some white spirit on a clean rag and start dabbing the paint. After a few minutes, the paint will disappear. However, white spirits won’t be able to remove dried paint from the carpet.

Final words

Overall, white spirit is an effective cleaning agent but it’s not so efficient in removing paint especially dried paint. This is due to the low volume of alcohol in the solvent.

However, white spirit will still do well to remove fresh paint stains or coatings that haven’t cured. This includes oil-based paints. But if the paint has cured, it’s best to use a stronger solvent to remove it.

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