Best Substitutes For Mineral Spirits (Non-Toxic Alternatives)

Mineral spirits are often within easy reach for most DIY experts and wannabes out there. But, what do you do when you run out of your favorite solvent? Do you take a quick trip to the store or a quick glance at the next paragraph? 

The best substitutes for mineral spirits mainly include turpentine, acetone, denatured alcohol, and charcoal lighter fluids. Good ol’ oil, soap, and water also aid in wiping off stubborn stains. 

substitutes for mineral spirits
Acetone – In nail polish remover

This article will explore different substitutes and when to use them in your everyday home solutions.

What Substitutes for Mineral Spirits Can You Find at Home?

Your solutions are closer than you think. There’s a chance that you have at least two of these popular solvents already at home.

You can easily find rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, charcoal lighter fluid, and oil, soap, and water in your home as substitutes for mineral spirits. 

For example, nail polish removers are an essential part of every makeup kit, while rubbing alcohol is in most first-aid boxes. So save yourself a few extra bucks or a trip to the store by using these readily-available solvents. 

What’s A Good Non-Toxic Substitute for Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits are a favorite cleaning solution because they’re a less toxic paint thinner compared to other solvents. Unlike turpentine which emits toxic and nauseous gas, spirits are refined to remove all toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sulfur. 

Denatured alcohol, charcoal lighter fluid, and acetone are each a non-toxic substitute to mineral spirits. These compounds are relatively safe to use at home for activities such as paint thinning or stain removal. 

Do you know the most interesting fact about these items? These non-toxic substitutes are readily accessible in most homes. However, take note to keep these chemicals away from the reach of children since all solvents are toxic when ingested.

What to Use Instead of Mineral Spirits on Wood

Mineral spirits are perfect for reviving that old vintage furniture or treating wood before applying varnish. Thankfully, denatured alcohol or turpentine can also do the job just right. You can use denatured alcohol to remove wood polish like shellac and for treatment after sanding. 

mineral spirits on wood
Mineral Spirits on wood

In contrast, turpentine is perfect for removing paint and varnish from any piece of furniture. Not only does it remove paint, but turpentine mixed with beeswax and lavender can also protect the wood from external elements. 

Now, let’s examine the steps for using these substitutes in woodwork.

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How to Use Denatured Alcohol to Clean or Polish Wood

For your DIY woodworks, you can use denatured alcohol instead of mineral spirits in these steps:

For cleaning wood

  1. Wear a protective glove, and use a lint-free cloth to clean untreated wood;
  2. Always apply it outdoors to avoid inhaling the fumes. 

For polishing wood

  1. Mix denatured alcohol and shellac in a 1:1 ratio to clean dust or resurface a porous wood;
  2. Dip a lint-free towel into the mixture, and apply it to the furniture surface;
  3. You can also add the mixture to the hinges to prevent rust.

How to Use Turpentine to Polish Wood

You can substitute turpentine for mineral spirits to polish antique or old furniture via these outlines:

  1. To clean a wax-finished piece of furniture, use a cloth soaked in turpentine to scrub the furniture’s surface. Remember to test the turpentine on a small area before applying it all over the wood.
  2. For a shellac-finished piece of furniture, use a mixture of turpentine, 95% alcohol, and straw oil. The combination must consist of 60 ml of straw oil, 60ml of 95% alcohol, and 100 ml of turpentine. Use a cotton rag to scrub the wood surface.

Best Substitute for Mineral Spirits in Stain/Grease Removal

For stain or grease removal, you can use acetone, denatured alcohol, or turpentine instead of mineral spirits. Note that these substitutes have different strengths and usage in stain removal. 

For example, turpentine mixed with salt in a 1:1 ratio is a potent agent for removing paint, grease, or furniture stains. Here are other ways to use these solvents for stain removal.

How to Use Acetone Instead of Mineral Spirits for Stain Removal

Using acetone to remove wood, coffee, glass, ceramic, and paint stains is an open secret for most veteran DIYers. Yes, we’re talking about the regular nail polish remover as a replacement for mineral spirits. 

Dip a cotton swab into acetone and lightly scrub to remove stains from any surface. Acetone also helps to smoothen scratches on glass and plastic surfaces.

How to Use Alcohol Instead of Mineral Spirits for Stain Removal

Denatured alcohol is a close mineral spirits substitute and is an excellent degreasing and stain removing agent. Unsurprisingly, most DIY’ers prefer to use the solvent as a cleaning agent for metal parts and even cloth stains. 

To use alcohol as a stain removing agent:

  1. Moisten a cotton swab with a few drops of the chemical.
  2. Apply it to a small area to know if it will discolor the surface.
  3. Scrub the stain gently or vigorously, depending on the fabric strength.

Voila! The stain disappears with ease after a few scrubs with alcohol.


Substitutes for mineral spirits are easily within your reach, and a majority of these chemicals are your everyday household items. So, don’t fret when you run out of mineral spirits and utilize these mineral spirits substitutes for your DIY home repairs.