Does Paint Thinner Remove Paint?

Did you accidentally splash paint on your walls, sofa, or clothes? Are you wondering if you can use paint thinner to remove the paint? We researched this question and have information to share on removing unwanted paint from surfaces or items.  

Yes, paint thinner can remove paint from a surface or item. However, it's best to remove the paint when it is still wet. 

Keep reading as we discuss why and how paint thinner can be used to remove paint. In addition, we'll cover how to clean paint brushes and rollers and how to store or dispose of paint thinner safely. We will also look at ways to remove hardened paint from various surfaces.

Can You Use Paint Thinner To Remove Paint?

You can use paint thinner to remove paint. Paint thinner is a solvent that dissolves and thins paint, making it easier to remove paint from a surface or to clean painting tools such as brushes, rollers, or sprayers. You'll have an easier time removing the paint if it is wet rather than hardened. 

Startex brand of green paint thinner

What Is Paint Thinner Made Of?

Mineral spirits may come to mind when you think of paint thinner. That's because most paint thinners are made from pure mineral spirits. Others have additives in them such as benzene. Paint thinners are made from other ingredients as well. 

Some paint thinners are organic. For example, soy-based thinners are made from methyl soyate, an ingredient extracted from the soybean. Another example is the citrus-based thinner made from turpentine, an ingredient drawn from trees, mostly pine.  

Working With Paint Thinner

Whatever type of paint thinner you use—organic or chemical—it is important to observe safety measures. This is because the paint thinner can emit hazardous chemicals that can harm your respiratory system, eyes, or other parts of your body.

When working with the product, you should wear protective gear, including face masks, gloves, rubber-sealed goggles, long-pant and long-sleeved clothing, and closed-toe shoes. 

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Be careful when you handle paint thinners. They are flammable, so it's best to ensure that there is no source of heat nearby when you use them. Open windows to ventilate your work area. Wash your hands after using paint thinner, and clean your work area when you're done.

The following sections show you how to safely use paint thinner to remove paint from a brush and from various surfaces.

How To Remove Paint From A Brush

After a paint job, you will need to clean your brushes and remove any paint. The following are steps to remove paint from a brush using paint thinner:

Tools to remove paint from a brush

Items needed:

  • Paint thinner
  • Paintbrush comb
  • Three clean containers (metal is a good option)
  • Soapy water


  1. Pour paint thinner into a container.
  2. Swish your brush inside the thinner for around 30 seconds. Don’t soak the brush, or the thinner will weaken the bristles.
  3. Run a paintbrush comb through the brush.
  4. Fill the second container with paint thinner and swish the brush inside the thinner again.
  5. Fill the third container with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing soap.
  6. Swish the brushes inside the soapy water.
  7. Thoroughly rinse the brushes in clean water and allow them to dry.

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Watch this video for a detailed demonstration of the steps above.

How To Remove Paint From A Surface

Removing blue painting with spatula

The paint thinner you use is determined by the surface you want to remove paint from. For example, denatured alcohol is suitable for removing paint from hardwood. 

Dip a rag into denatured alcohol and dab the paint you want to remove. Allow the alcohol to soak in for a few minutes. Use a brush to scrape away the paint. Dip the rag into the alcohol and wipe the paint again. Use a paper towel to blot up any remaining paint or alcohol. 

On the other hand, acetone can be used to remove paint from metal. Apply it to the metal surface using a paintbrush. Allow the thinner to soften the paint for around 20 minutes.  

Afterward, scrape the paint off with a plastic paint scraper. Apply thinner to any paint residue and repeat the process. Use a clean cloth and water to wipe off the thinner.

In a nutshell, various types of paint thinners are available for use. You just need to know which is the most appropriate for the surface from which you want to remove paint.

How To Dispose Of Or Store Paint Thinner

Can with a thinner from the upside view

You should be extremely careful when disposing of or storing paint thinners to prevent harm to those in your home. 

After cleaning brushes or removing paint stains, pour the remaining paint thinner into a container and seal it. Paint particles will settle at the bottom of the container. Take another container and pour clear thinner into it. Let the paint particles remain behind, after which you can dispose of them.

You should be careful when disposing of paint particles. Do not put these particles down a drain or dispose of them on the ground. They can pollute the water and the soil. Instead, dispose of the particles in a hazardous waste disposal location. 

Store the paint thinners outside of your house, in a shed or other storage space. This will protect the occupants in your home against any harmful vapors that could escape from the containers. 

Lastly, don’t fill the containers up to the brim. The vapors need room to expand, or the containers could burst. 

How To Remove Hardened Paint

If there is hardened paint on your carpet, floor, wall, or any other surface, you can still remove it. You should follow the appropriate method and use the right product. Instead of paint thinner, it may be best to use a paint stripper. 

Let's look at a few surfaces and how to remove hardened paint from them: 


To remove dry paint from concrete, start by scraping it off with a stiff brush to loosen the stain. Then apply the stripper and allow it to sit for at least an hour. Next, brush away the loose paint and then wipe it off. 


Hand is striping red paint

You can remove paint from metal by sanding or scraping it off. However, these methods can damage the surface. Therefore, it’s best to use a paint stripper

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Apply the paint stripper to the paint, allowing it to dissolve the paint for 10 to 20 minutes. Afterward, chisel off the paint or wipe it off with a towel.


You may not need a paint stripper to remove hardened paint on a carpet. Instead, pour hot water on the stain, followed by a few drops of dish soap. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrape off the stain.

If any paint remains on the carpet, apply steam using a handheld steamer. As the stain lifts off, scrape it away using a scraper.  

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Process of cleaning an old wooden door from paint layers

You can remove hardened paint from wood using a paint stripper. Apply a small amount to the paint and wait for around 20 minutes. Afterward, you can remove the paint easily by scraping or wiping it off. 

In Closing

You can easily remove unwanted paint from various surfaces and items with paint thinner. This is easiest to do when the paint is still wet. Apply a small amount to the stain to loosen it, then scrape or wipe it off.

It's much more difficult to remove paint when it has hardened. However, you can still remove the paint stain using paint stripper and various methods.

Paint thinner releases fumes that can be dangerous to your health. Therefore, be cautious when using it. Paint thinner is also highly flammable. You should dispose of it carefully and store it safely to avert potential danger.

Do you want to learn more about paint thinners? Have a look at the articles below:

Paint Thinner Types And Brands

How Much Paint Thinner To Use For Spray Gun Ratio Recommendations

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