Can Mineral Spirits Be Used to Clean Wood?

It can be hard to find what works best for you as a DIYer. You may have heard of mineral spirits for metal parts and wondered if you can also use them to clean wood—who wouldn’t want a 2-in-1, effective solvent?

You can use mineral spirits to clean wood, removing dust particles, stubborn stains, wax buildups, grease, and paint. It also does not damage the underlying finish or varnish. However, this go-to solvent can’t remove water-based stains.

Yes, you heard it right. Mineral spirits are safe to use on wood containing shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane finish. It’s not an all-in-one solution for all stains, though, as you can’t use it to remove water-based stains from wood. It can only remove oil-based paints.

This article will explore the uses of spirits in cleaning different wood stains. 

Can I Use Mineral Spirits to Clean Sanded Wood?

How do you deal with those loose dirt and debris after sanding? Using a paint brush is not enough to remove the debris lodged into the wood grain. 

You need mineral spirits to spot and remove sticky residue and loose dust after sanding. Applying mineral spirits on sanded wood will reveal little gouges or scratches from the sanding tool. 

What’s more? You get a sneak peek at what it will look like after finishing. 

How to Use Mineral Spirits to Clean Sanded Wood 

Use mineral spirits to clean sanded wood by using these steps:

  1. Gather all the necessary supplies 

Get a lint-free rag, garbage bag, face mask, gloves, and disposable Tupperware or stainless steel. Let’s not forget to include a container of mineral spirits. Remember that spirits emit toxic fumes. So, take the sanded wood to a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. 

    2. Submerge the rag in mineral spirits 

Pour mineral spirits into a container; only measure what you need for the process. 



  1. Do not use cotton or wooly fibers for cleaning sanded wood.
  2. Cotton rags deposit lint which gets stuck in the wood grains and crevices.
  3. Immerse your lint-free rag into the container.
  4. Let it soak up and squeeze out excess moisture. 

     3. Apply the soaked rag to the wood surface

Take extra caution when applying spirits on softwood varieties like pine. Scrub too hard, and you may create more gouges or scratches on the sanded wood. 

Many DIYers often make the mistake of scrubbing too hard, thus damaging the wood in the process. Furthermore, do not scrub in a circular motion; scrub in the direction of the wood grain. 

       5. Add more mineral spirits if dry

Use more than one lint-free rag if you’re working on large wood surfaces. Remember to soak the rag in spirits from time to time. 

Also, keep switching to clean rag parts during cleaning. We often do this to avoid rubbing the debris into the wood. You can use more than one rag to clean large wood surfaces like outdoor patios, porches, or wooden floors.

Always wait for the spirits to dry before layering some varnish or finish. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for the solvent to dry up. 

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Can I Clean Wood With Mineral Spirits Before Painting?

Mineral spirit is more than just a paint thinner, degreaser, or rust-remover.

On wooden surfaces, they prep and clean loose dust and debris. In woodwork, cleaning with mineral spirits often determines whether you’ll get that smooth paint coat or not.

Dust particles or wax buildups may interfere with paints and reduce the overall aesthetics of your work. Furthermore, you may miss out on seeing the scratches or gouges before painting.

How to Use Mineral Spirits to Clean Wood Before Painting 

Prep up surfaces of wood—whether it be wood furniture or floors—before painting with these steps:

Step 1: Use triphosphate and bleach solution to remove mold and peel off old paint

Step 2: Next, sand it down with a sanding tool. (Choose the most suitable grit type for the surface.) 

Step 3: Dampen a lint-free rag in mineral spirits and wring out excess spirits. Lightly scrub the wood surface in the direction of the wood grain. In addition, do not scrub in a circular or swirling motion. 

The goal is to clean stains and remove dust or debris stuck in the wood. 

Step 4: Wait for the spirits to dry off before applying paint. 

Take safety precautions by discarding this stronger solvent in the right way. Contact your nearest hazardous waste facility for disposal guides or check how to dispose of spirits safely

Can You Clean Wood Floors with Mineral Spirits? 

Time happens to all, including your hardwood floors. Wood floors wear down within a few years, especially in areas with high household traffic. Water stains, scratches, and wax buildups can destroy that once-impressive wood floor. 

Mineral spirits are mild cleaning solutions for removing stains and restoring luster to wood floors. In most mild cases of use in wood floors, DIYers may resort to cleaning with mineral spirits instead of applying a new finish.


How Can I Use Mineral Spirits to Clean Wood Floors 

Take up a dry cloth rag, mineral spirits, gloves, and a disposable garbage bag and follow these instructions:

Step 1: Take safety precautions and ventilate the room. Open the windows to improve ventilation. In addition, don your face mask and glove before the next step. 

Step 2: Dab a cloth rag with mineral spirit. 

Step 3: Test it on a small inconspicuous area on the wood floor. Wood floors have different finishes, which may react with spirits. So, do this to avoid large-scale damage to your hardwood floor. Wait until it dries to see if there’s any unpleasant reaction. 

Step 4: Use the spirits-soaked rags to scrub water stains, scuff marks, and wax residues. You may use fine steel wool when dealing with tough stains. 

Step 5: Apply floor wax to the affected area. Use a clean rag to rub floor wax into the cleaned region. 


Now, you know where mineral spirits belong in your DIY tool kit. What’s more? With the help of this guide, you can use them to clean any wood surface with ease.