Is Mineral Spirits Safe On Stainless Steel? Yes! But….

Mineral spirits can help you get grime and other contaminants entirely off if you are about to clean expensive stainless steel parts or objects. But are spirits safe on stainless steel?

Mineral spirits are safe on stainless steel. However, you should use a soft cloth to apply this solvent. Never use steel wool or steel brushes as these items can cause scratches, and pieces of them could get caught in your items, leading to rust.

We aim to inform you about using spirits with stainless steel objects. We will look at the best way to go about this and outline some useful tips.

Can You Use Mineral Spirits On Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel has an aesthetic appeal that makes it desirable to own in various forms. Another advantage of this material is its high corrosion resistance. When cleaning stainless steel parts or appliances, you might wonder if using spirits is a good idea.

You can use mineral spirits to clean stainless steel objects. Mineral spirits will do a great job when soap and water are not strong enough to eliminate dirt, grime, and worse on stainless steel. Just avoid using abrasive objects such as steel wool when applying mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits are helpful in many ways, which is why a lot of DIY’ers keep this solvent stored in their workshops. There are cleaners specifically meant for stainless steel objects, but these will cost you a lot more while not doing a better job. Mineral spirits will clean stainless steel perfectly and not hurt your wallet, especially if you already have some stored away.

Do Mineral Spirits Harm Stainless Steel?

Mineral spirits are not just great at thinning oil-based paint. This solvent is also an excellent degreaser and general cleaner. It’s beneficial at getting dirt and grime off metal objects, including stainless steel.

Mineral spirits do not harm stainless steel. Instead, damage occurs when this solvent is misapplied, such as using an abrasive brush to scrub off grime. This can cause scratches because of the brush’s abrasive action.

Something else that causes worry about using spirits on stainless steel is possible residue. This is a myth since spirits evaporate in 15 to 20 minutes. There should not be any residue of this solvent on stainless steel after that time.

If you notice residue after wiping a stainless steel part with spirits, it is most likely just dirt or grime. Simply wipe it away with a rag and  spirits.

How to Clean Stainless Steel with Mineral Spirits

Mineral Spirits

While some DIY’ers might be wary of using a strong solvent like spirits on their precious stainless steel objects, you can do so confidently. You just have to go about this with care and do it correctly.

As we mentioned above, it is not good to use steel wool or steel brushes to clean stainless steel with mineral spirits. Scraping away at stainless steel with these abrasive objects will often result in scratches and minute particles from them adhering to the stainless steel. All of this can form rust.

Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning stainless steel with spirits:

  1. Gather your materials, including the stainless steel objects to be cleaned, mineral spirits, a plastic bucket, and rags.
  2. Put on rubber gloves and protective clothing when handling mineral spirits. This solvent can irritate the skin, so you want to avoid getting it on you.
  3. If you are cleaning small objects, you can submerge them in mineral spirits for a few minutes. Pour just enough mineral spirits into a plastic bucket of adequate size. This step will dislodge dirt, grime, and other contaminants so that you can easily wipe them away. For larger objects, skip this step.
  4. Soak a soft towel or cloth in mineral spirits and use it to wipe your stainless steel clean.
  5. Allow 15 to 20 minutes for the spirits to evaporate.
  6. Wash your rags thoroughly and store them in a cool and dry place once you are done. Spirits are flammable, and you do not want your rags to catch fire.

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What Else Can I Use?

Often, all you need to clean off contaminants like grease and grime is warm water and a rag. You should simply wipe the affected area with a rag soaked in warm water. But you can also use vinegar.

Vinegar (without any sulfuric acid) is another strong cleaner that can remove more challenging contaminants. Stubborn oils and adhesives can be cleaned off stainless steel with this solvent.

If you are worried about the effects of spirits on a particular stainless steel object, you can apply a small quantity to an inconspicuous area to see the results first-hand. 

Remember to apply the liquid with a soft rag and not an abrasive brush or steel wool. You should get positive results from this solvent and then continue to clean off the rest of the stainless steel object.

You can also get started by trying to get contaminants off stainless steel objects with just water and soap to see if that will do. If the job proves too tricky for such simple measures, spirits are there to help.


It is safe to use spirits on small and large stainless steel objects. The most important thing to keep an eye on is how you apply this solvent. Using abrasive objects on stainless steel can harm it.

Clean your stainless steel objects according to our step-by-step guide and you are sure to get great results.