Mineral Spirits: Common Uses, Cool Tricks, and Precautions

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How to use mineral spirits to clean many products.

Mineral spirits are purchased at a paint supply store and are used for various things. Mainly they are used for paint clean up on paint brushes, mistakes made while painting, thinning paint to make it easier to scrape, and as a degreaser in auto and machine shops. I use mineral spirits to help clean my brushes.

First I wash out the bristles of all paint that is in the brush under warm water, and then I soak the brush in warm soapy water. If there's any paint left on the bristles I pour mineral spirits over the bristles and let sit for about 15 minutes. Using a wire brush, I scrape the rest of the paint off the bristles and soak in hot soapy water. You'll find this really saves on brushes. When drying my brushes I lay them flat so they don't bend and get an undesirable shape. For Mechanics: When cleaning auto parts you can soak them in mineral spirits and it will help degrease them. After soaking you can use a wire brush to get into threads, nooks and crannies to help get a real good clean.

Here's a cool little trick I taught myself. When buying things, such as new glassware, at the store that have sticky tags on them, take a cotton ball soaked with mineral spirits an rub it over the sticker, soaking well. That sticker will come right off, then just wash item in soapy water and voila no sticky mess left on item. This works equally well on windows that have tape or paint on them. This also works for clothing or carpet that has gum stuck in it and skid marks on linoleum. Just be sure to wash whatever you put mineral spirits on thoroughly with hot soapy water after you are finished.

Precautions When Handling Mineral Spirits

Make sure that when you use mineral spirits that you are in a well ventilated area away from any source of heat, flame or spark. Certainly don't smoke! Use rubber gloves when handling mineral spirits, remember always that you are handling a flammable liquid. If you get any on your clothing remove them right away and throw in the washer. Keep a rag or two handy to wipe up any spills up. Always make sure the lid is put back on tight and of course keep away from small children, the higher the better, even in a garage. Dangerous liquids should always be placed out of their reach even though you think your garage is safe, no place is ever safe from a child's curiosity.

Other Use For Mineral Spirits

There are even more uses for mineral spirits. Uses like renewing a wood floor and wood finishes. Wood floors and wood finishes can become dull over time. Mineral spirits can act as a solvent to dissolve grime, wax and buildup from other cleaners. Even though mineral spirits are a potent cleaner, it does not cause any damage to clear wood finishes. Do not use a stronger solvent as that might damage the wood finish. Mineral spirits are far easier to use, and compared to stripping and refinishing woodwork, using mineral spirits are far easier and worth trying.

According to Bob Vila with This Old House, adding more mineral spirits to the cloth as necessary, continue rubbing the wood until the cloth no longer picks up any residue. To access detailed or hard-to-reach areas, such as the carved portion of a fireplace mantel, use an old toothbrush or a pad of fine steel wool. For more information, check out Bob Villa.

Once again, you much be careful as mineral spirits are flammable. Always open the windows when using mineral spirits, never smoke and be very careful of where you put the rags that you use, because they can catch fire.


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