Do Mineral Spirits Go Bad? It Depends

Like many DIY’ers, you probably have a can or two of mineral spirits that you have not touched in ages. That can lead you to start asking, do spirits go bad?

The good news? Mineral spirits do not spoil. In fact, they can last for decades as long as you store them in a high-quality container in cooler temperatures.

Mineral spirits do not have a shelf life that dictates how long you have to use them. However, you do have to store the solvent properly to ensure that they are still useful once you need them. Find out how to do that in this article.

How Long Do Mineral Spirits Last?

Mineral spirits are more frequently used than other common solvents for painting, cleaning, and general DIY projects. Their wide variety of applications makes them an excellent solvent to have around for different needs.

If you do not engage in DIY projects as often as you would like to, you might store the solvent in your garage for years. The good news is that you do not have to worry about them expiring.

Mineral spirits can last for decades and still be as effective as the day you bought them. This does not mean they will last forever, though—you must store them in a tightly sealed container in a cool place for them to last.

Fortunately, this means you can buy spirits in large quantities to save money and they will not go to waste. Future DIY projects with wood, metal, and other textiles will ensure this. You can even get car parts perfectly clean with white spirits.

Mineral spirits have an indefinite shelf life and do not separate.. What’s more, because of their high strength and shelf life, spirits that have been stored for years will not affect the color or quality of paint.

You just have to make sure to store mineral spirits properly once you finish using them. Failing to do so can lead to them going bad or simply evaporating.

Proper Mineral Spirits Storage

Despite not having an expiration date, spirits can go bad if not properly stored.

After using the solvent, you have to store them appropriately to keep them from going bad. This simple step will keep them from losing their quality as the years go by. Also, pay special attention to the following tips:


· Use the original container

It is best to keep spirits in their original container. Some people choose to pour some solvent into a different container for a specific project, but this can cause it to spoil.

· Choose high-quality plastic or metal containers

Sometimes, keeping spirits in their original container is not an option because it breaks. If you run into this mishap, pour any liquid you have left into a high-quality solvent-resistant plastic or metal container.

· Use a tight seal

No matter what container you use to store your spirits, double-check that the seal is tight. Skipping this can lead to it evaporating.

· Store in a cool place

Mineral spirits should be handled with care, especially considering that they are highly flammable. At 105 to 145 °F (41 to 63 °C), spirits can suddenly ignite. You must store them away from any heat sources.

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Can Mineral Spirits Evaporate?

Mineral spirits will dry to a certain extent if you leave them out for a long time during use, but evaporation should not worry you.

Mineral spirits can evaporate. However, this does not happen quickly. Being a petroleum-based solvent, its drying time is slow—it will take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes for a layer of spirits on wood or another material to evaporate.

You can check whether spirits have evaporated or not by simply looking at the surface in question. If it seems wet, total evaporation has not taken place. Once spirits have completely evaporated, the surface will appear dry. 

Sealed mineral spirits have a much slower dry time. However, you should use a solvent-resistant container for storage to ensure that you will be able to use your spirits for years to come.

Some DIY’ers use spirits that are stored for decades with excellent results.

How to Dispose of Mineral Spirits Properly

Usually, you should not need to dispose of white spirit solvents since they don’t expire on their own. You can just store them in a cool place for months or years until another DIY project requires them.

Of course, things happen, and various problems such as an unsealed container can lead you to have to dispose of spirits.

If you need to dispose of spirits because you suspect they have gone bad or for any other reason, just follow these steps:

1. Contact the nearest hazardous waste disposal facility. The hazardous waste facility should be able to take the solvent and dispose of them properly for a minimal fee.

2. Place any oily rags into an oily waste disposal container. This is especially important since they can catch fire. Never get rid of rags soaked with spirits in your regular trash.

3. Recycle all mineral spirits containers. Leave them open to allow any residue to evaporate.

Mineral spirits can pose a significant danger and must be disposed of properly. Never pour them down the drain or leave them close to a fire. Likewise, any materials that have come into contact with the solvent have to be treated this way. Contact your local hazardous waste collection facility for more information about disposing of spirits in accordance with local regulations and laws.

Conclusion: Store Mineral Spirits Well to Keep from Going Bad

Despite the lack of an expiration date, mineral spirits can go bad.

Fortunately, you now have all the information you need to make sure that the solvent does not not go bad. Store them properly and they will still be there when you take on your next DIY project—whether two weeks, years, or decades from now.