After Wash Vs Mineral Spirits (Paint Stripping and More)

A new paint job is a great way to make a wood surface—everybody loves a good, rich coat on a decades-old chair, table, or other pieces of wooden furniture. To make it look its best, should you use after-wash or mineral spirits after applying paint stripper?

Both after-wash and mineral spirits will get residue from paint stripper off effectively. However, while you can only use after-wash for this specific purpose, you can use spirits for various other applications.

If you need a solvent to clean paint stripper residue, keep reading to learn how spirits and after-wash compare.

Difference Between Mineral Spirits and After-Wash

The stripping process for pieces of furniture is not always easy. Even after using a high-quality paint stripper, bits of paint residue can stubbornly remain. Paint stripper after-wash and mineral spirits can help you get the surface in question clean and remove the last bits of paint.

When using water-based products, paint stripper after-wash is preferable since you can only use mineral spirits with oil-based products. However, spirits can be a better choice for various reasons, including dissolving strength, price, and usefulness.

Advantages of Mineral Spirits over After-Wash

Some DIY’ers will go out of their way to buy paint stripper after-wash only to find that it is not strong enough for the job. In this situation, a more potent solvent like mineral spirits can come to the rescue. Here is a look at some of the advantages of spirits over paint stripper after-wash:

Dissolving Strength

The removing power that you get from a paint stripper after-wash can vary greatly depending on the product’s quality. If you get a low-quality after-wash, it might not get the job done correctly. 

On the other hand, Mineral spirits have excellent dissolving strength. That strength makes mineral spirits an irritant, so make sure to use rubber, chemical-resistant gloves. You can count on spirits to clean off paint stripper residue and get stubborn paint off.


Going cheap will not get you the best performance so if you want good results from an after-wash, you will likely spend a pretty penny. 

A quart of brand-name after-wash will run you well over $20. You can get a quart of mineral spirits for about a third of that price and even less.

Choosing spirits over after-wash can help you stay within your DIY budget.

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Paint stripper after-wash is meant for one purpose, and that is all you will likely use it for. Mineral spirits come in handy not just when stripping old paint from surfaces and furniture but also for thinning paint, degreasing metal parts and tools, and a lot more.

You can even reuse spirits you have used to clean parts and tools. Just let them sit in a bucket until the dirt and grime sink to the bottom. Then pour the top liquid into a solvent-resistant container.

How Do You Use Mineral Spirits or After-Wash After Stripping?

Here are the steps you need to follow to use either after-wash or mineral spirits when stripping paint:

  1. Choose your workspace

If you plan to repaint an item that can be moved, such as furniture, you should move it to a well-ventilated area. Ideally, you can do the job in your patio, backyard, or another open space.

  1. Move or cover other items

Stripping paint and using after-wash or mineral spirits is messy. Wherever you choose to go about your DIY project, it is essential to protect nearby objects, including the floor or ground. 

If you cannot move the item you are working on, cover nearby items and the floor or ground with plastic or newspaper. Painter’s tape is excellent at holding the plastic or newspaper in place to avoid damage.

  1. Put on protective gear

This step is crucial because working with paint strippers and solvents like mineral spirits can be hazardous.

Getting any of this liquid on nearby objects can damage them, but getting some on your skin can cause irritation and burns. Ideally, you should wear rubber gloves, safety glasses, fraga long-sleeved shirt, jeans or overalls, and goggles.

  1. Apply paint stripper

Choosing a paint stripper depends on the object you are working on and how many layers of old paint you must get rid of. For example, if you are going to strip paint off a wall or another flat surface, citrus-based paint strippers are ideal. 

Be aware that paint strippers with methylene chloride are particularly hazardous. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, you should apply the paint remover with a paintbrush, paint roller, or spray gun.

  1. Let the paint dissolve

Depending on your particular DIY project and your paint stripper, you will have to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours for the paint to dissolve. You can then use after-wash or mineral spirits.

  1. Apply after-wash or mineral spirits

Before using after-wash or mineral spirits, you should scrape off as much softened paint as possible with a paint scraper. After-wash can be helpful on most objects and with most types of stripping solution, but spirits are more robust and work effectively with citrus strippers. 

Apply the cleaner you choose with a rag or a scratch-free pad. Repeat this step as often as you need to.

  1. Give time for mineral spirits to evaporate, if using them

If you use mineral spirits after stripping off old paint, you have to wait about 20 minutes for it to dissipate completely before going on to the next step.

  1. Start painting!

Once you have gotten rid of all the old paint with after-wash or mineral spirits, you are ready to put on a new coat. If you are using oil-based paint, you can also use spirits to thin it to the right consistency.


Paint stripper after-wash can be useful for many DIY projects, but mineral spirits can do a better job. You can get tricky bits of paint off wooden surfaces and clean off paint stripper residue simultaneously with this effective solvent. 

Consider the benefits we outlined above when choosing between these two options for your next DIY project.