Apply Mineral Spirits Before Or After Sanding?

Whether you are new to woodworking or have some experience under your belt, you might be wondering when it is best to apply mineral spirits to clean the wood. Should you do so before or after sanding?

Applying mineral spirits after sanding will clean the wood and help with staining for a more refined finish. You could use mineral spirits before sanding, but that would waste some of the product, and you might have to apply another layer after sanding.

In this article, we address the benefits of applying spirits to wood after sanding, as well as how to do it right.

The Purpose of Mineral Spirits after Sanding

Mineral spirits have more uses than most people realize. Keeping a few cans of this solvent stored and ready for different DIY projects is a great idea.

Sometimes, using white spirits on a wooden surface, metal surfaces, or other materials is straightforward and understandable. At other times, the need for this solvent is not so clear.

Applying mineral spirits on wood is not necessary, but it comes with some advantages you should not pass by. Consider the following:

· Removes residue

Sanding leaves a lot of residue on wood. Wiping that residue with a brush or rag is just a start. Applying spirits after this will clean the wood properly, leaving it ready for the next step.

· Helps you notice faults

Putting spirits on wood after sanding will allow you to spot faults you had not seen before. For example, you might have failed to get rid of a bit of glue. 

Once you apply mineral spirits on that specific spot, you will notice the glue and get to remove it after the layer of spirits has been absorbed and evaporated.

Using sander on wood

Prepare for Staining

Staining wood is very important if you want it to last a significant amount of time and spirits help you make that happen.

Yet another great reason to keep your wood surface clean with mineral spirits after sanding is that it conditions it for staining, which makes the wood stand out and protects it from water and rot.

This is especially helpful when your wooden project will remain outdoors. Even if you are making furniture or something else meant to stay inside, using spirits will help you achieve better results.

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Applying Mineral Spirits After Sanding 

DIY projects with wood turn out better when spirits are thrown into the mix.

Anyone who has sanded even a tiny piece of wood knows that even light sanding produces a surprising amount of dust. You have to stain your wood in an environment with as little dust as possible. Once you have sanded a piece of wood, dust it in preparation for a coat of spirits.

Here is how you should go about all of this:

  1. Sand down the wood to deal with marks, bumps, and knocks. Sanding will leave the piece of wood smooth and ready for spirits. Make sure that you have achieved your desired results before moving on. Otherwise, keep sanding. Use the correct sandpaper grit to open the wood pores to spirits and stain.
  1. Use a dusting brush or tack cloth to remove as much grit and dust from wood as possible. Sand dust particles can affect overall quality when you want a smooth finish on your wood surface. 

If your sander lacks a vacuum, you might want to use your home vacuum cleaner to get as much dust as you can out of the way.

  1. Finally, apply a layer of mineral spirits and leave the project alone to allow the solvent to evaporate. Mineral spirits generally dissipate in 15 to 20 minutes. 

Have a good look at the wood to ensure that there is no solvent residue before staining if you are planning to do so. Doing this before sanding can lead you to apply more spirits than you have to. 

Not only will that bring your supply of this solvent down, but it will also make your DIY wood project a bit more expensive.

Can I Use Odorless Mineral Spirits After Sanding?

Like any common paint thinner, mineral spirits produce an unpleasant kerosene-like odor because of the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in them. Odorless spirits reduce the smell to be unnoticeable or nonexistent by limiting the VOC content.

Yes, you can use odorless mineral spirits after sanding wood. The only difference between regular mineral spirits and those labeled “odorless” is the lack of smell. The functionality of both types of spirits is the same after sanding.

The result of your woodworking project will turn out just as great whether you choose to use regular or odorless spirits after sanding.

A quick note about safety: Whether your spirits have an odor or not, the fumes they emit can be hazardous with prolonged exposure. Always work in a well-ventilated area and consider using a respirator and other protective gear for maximum safety.

How Long After Applying Mineral Spirits Can I Sand?

You can use mineral spirits right after sanding. Naturally, at least a few minutes will go by while you clean up dust to apply spirits as efficiently as possible. But there is no need to wait for the wood to change in some way after you sand it. 

Mineral spirits do require some time to be absorbed by the wood and evaporate once you apply them. About 20 minutes after applying spirits to wood, it will be ready for staining or a coat of paint. 

Have a good look at the piece of wood to make sure that there is no residue before continuing.

Conclusion – Mineral Spirits After Sanding

Wiping your wood with mineral spirits is best done after sanding. This simple step is effective at cleaning the wood in preparation for staining. 

Although you can get good results without applying any solvent after sanding, using spirits will ensure an even better outcome. Just make sure to remove any additional wood dust with a clean cloth.