As a solution made to break down and dissolve thick lacquers, varnishes, oils, grease and paints, lacquer thinner is an effective method of cleaning substances off certain hard surfaces. While too harsh to use on many softer materials, such as clothes and surfaces covered with an oil-based paint, lacquer thinner is a good household tool that doesn't require much work and dries itself.
The primary household usage of lacquer thinner is in removing the shine or gloss from certain surfaces, such counters, tile, cement and plastic. A small amount of the thinner will remove shine caused by grease or oil and leave the surface clean. Paint and ink stains can also be removed. The thinner is best applied using a spray bottle.
Similar to the removal of stains, the components of lacquer thinner make an effective method of dissolving excess paint spots. Even older stains can be removed by rubbing a small amount of thinner into the remaining stain, which is especially useful around doorknobs and light switches that may have received a few unwanted drops from a painted wall.
Even thicker substances, such as tar and tree sap, can be dissolved with lacquer thinner. While lacquer thinner is effective in this operation, the amount needed to completely remove the substance may result in unpleasant and toxic vapors. Other products are available for cleaning large amounts of thick substances that don't have the same hazards.
Although not used as much for this application, lacquer thinner can make for an effective cleaner before painting a surface. Once cleaned of grease, oil or other foreign substances, the paint has a better chance of sinking into the material and holding without bubbles or bumps from residue.