How to Use Paint Thinner to Remove Paint

Paint thinner is a mineral oil-based solvent used to remove paint. It can help to thin oil-based paints and lacquers. Paint thinner can also remove grease, oil and asphalt. Paint thinner is a harsh chemical that you should not inhale. It also can cause irritation when exposed to the skin. Make sure to wear protective clothing, gloves and a face mark when using paint thinner. Always work in a well-ventilated area.

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Use paint thinner to clean and preserve paint brushes after use.

Step 1

Test small areas of the carpet, floor or surface before you clean paint spills with paint thinner. Paint thinner may melt or discolor carpets and other surfaces. Use a soft cloth or a cotton swab to apply the paint thinner. Blot the area with a paper towel when done. Clean off the chemical with a soapy solution made by mixing 2 tsp. of dish washing liquid with 3 cups of warm water.

Step 2

Clean paint brushes and rollers with paint thinner when you have been painting with an oil-based paint. Fill a container with paint thinner and soak the brush in the liquid. Twirl the brush around and use a brush comb to work the thinners up to the top of the bristles. This will prevent the top of the brush from retaining color. Rinse the brush in a soapy solution. Use shampoo for natural fiber brushes. Wrap the brushes in plastic packaging and store.

Step 3

Remove unwanted lacquer and shellac by scouring the surface with steel wool dipped in paint thinner. For small items, you can dip the item in the paint thinner and allow it to flake off the lacquer or shellac. Use a scraper to remove paint in difficult to reach places.