10 Best Paint Thinner Alternatives

Paint thinner is a product that can be used for various purposes. Some are designed for cleaning brushes, surfaces, and spills, while others are used with oil-based paints and stains to thin them out and make them easier to apply.

However, paint thinners can be dangerous and harsh on the environment. In this guide, we will be discussing some of the best paint thinner alternatives that are safer and more effective.

Various Uses of Paint Thinner

A paint thinner can be used in different ways depending on the paint you’re using and the project you’re working on.

Paint thinner cans

Here are some common uses for paint thinner:

Thin oil-based paint

You can use paint thinner to thin out oil-based paint so that it’s easier to apply. That’s especially useful if you’re painting a large surface and need to cover it quickly.

Clean up surfaces

The paint thinner can also be used to clean previously painted surfaces that might have some residual paint or other debris.

Clean brushes

You can soak the brushes you used to apply oil-based paint in paint thinner to clean them.

Degrease surfaces

You can use paint thinner to degrease surfaces before painting them.

Wipe up spills

If you accidentally spill oil-based paint, you can use paint thinner to clean it up.

Extend paint’s life

You can add paint thinner to oil-based paint that has been sitting for a while and has started to thicken. That’ll make the paint easier to work with and extend its life.

Improve spray applications

When using oil-based paint in a sprayer, you can add paint thinner to improve the application.

What Happens if You Don’t Use Thinners?

If you use oil-based paint and don’t thin it out, it’ll take much longer for the paint to dry.

It can also be challenging to apply the paint evenly and could result in an uneven paint job. In addition, the paint:

  • Might drip or sag
  • Can become too thick to be sprayed through a paint sprayer
  • Won’t level out properly, which can give your walls an unsightly texture
  • Might not adhere to the surface properly, leading to peeling or flaking
  • The paint job will likely take much longer to complete since you’ll have to work harder to apply the paint evenly.

How to Choose a Paint Thinner Alternative?

When choosing a paint thinner, you’ll need to consider:

Cost

Paint thinners vary in price, depending on the brand and the type of solvent. Choose the one that fits your budget.

Type of paint you’re using

Some paint thinners are only meant to be used with oil-based paints, while others can be used with any paint.

The project you’re working on

If you’re working on a large project, you’ll need to buy a larger quantity of paint thinner.

Toxicity

Some paint thinners are more toxic than others. Choose one that’s safe for you and the environment.

Flammability

Choose a paint-thinner alternative that is less flammable if you’re looking for a safer option to use indoors.

The scent

Some paint thinners have a strong chemical smell, while others are more pleasant to work with.

The surface you’re painting

Some paint thinners are more abrasive than others. Choose one that’s gentle on the surface you’re painting.

Your personal preferences

Some people prefer using less toxic or more pleasant-smelling paint thinners, while others don’t mind the strong chemical smell.

Eco-friendliness

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, consider a paint thinner alternative made from natural ingredients and doesn’t contain petroleum-based solvents.

The Best Paint Thinner Alternatives

There are many paint thinner alternatives on the market, which vary in price, toxicity, and scent. Here are some of the best paint thinner substitutes:

#1. Water

Water is the easiest to use and is a completely non-toxic paint thinner alternative.

water pouring from bottle

It can be used for water-based paints, stains, and varnishes. All you need to do is add a little at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive
  • Completely non-toxic
  • Easily adjustable to achieve desired consistency

Disadvantages:

  • It can only be used with water-based paints

#2. Citrus Thinner

Citrus thinner is made from citrus fruits, a great non-toxic, natural replacement for turpentine. It often goes under the name of “turpenoid natural.”

It can be used to thin oil-based paints, clean brushes, and many household items. It has a mild and pleasant citrus scent and doesn’t give off the strong fumes that come with other thinners.

The citrus thinner can be used alone or mixed with other paint thinners.

Advantages:

  • Made from citrus fruits, making it a natural, safe alternative to turpentine
  • Non-toxic, so it’s safe for use around children and pets
  • The mild citrus scent doesn’t overpower like other thinners
  • Biodegradable, so it’s easy to dispose of leftover thinner
  • It can be used alone or mixed with other thinners
  • It has a neutral PH and works mildly on all surfaces

Disadvantages:

  • Slower drying compared to chemical-based thinners
  • Paint thinners made from citrus are a little bit expensive compared to chemical-based thinners

#3. White Spirit

White spirit or mineral spirit is a perfect alternative to toxic and odorous paint thinner and is less costly than turpentine.

It has a similar chemical composition to basic paint thinner, with a petroleum base, but its evaporation rate resembles turpentine. In addition, it comes in either non-odor or low odor varieties.

White spirit can be used to thin oil-based paints and varnishes, remove grease from metal parts, and clean paint spills, surfaces, and brushes.

Advantages:

  • Less toxic than regular paint thinner
  • Less costly than turpentine
  • More effective regular paint thinners

Disadvantages:

  • The fumes can still be overwhelming
  • Irritating to the skin, eyes, and lungs
  • It can only be used with oil-based paints

#4. Odorless Turpenoid

An odorless turpenoid is a paint thinner made from distilled turpentine. It’s less toxic than regular thinners because the impurities have been removed.

The non-smelly turpenoid promotes better air quality when working indoors and has the same drying time as turpentine.

Odorless turpenoid has a wide variety of applications. A small quantity is enough to thin paint, stains, and varnishes, as well as clean up residue and gooey messes around the house without leaving behind an offensive smell.

Advantages:

  • High evaporation rate, making it effective to use
  • It makes painting easier to apply
  • Has no odor
  • Less toxic than turpentine

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • It’s still a toxic substance that needs to be used in a well-ventilated room

#5. Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol or ethyl alcohol is a paint thinner made from ethanol but adulterated with a toxic substance.

It’s a versatile solvent used to thin oil-based paints and varnishes, remove paint from hard surfaces, and brushes.

Denatured alcohol can also be used as a cleaning agent to remove grease and grime. It’s highly flammable but less toxic than turpentine and should be used in a well-ventilated room.

Advantages:

  • Less toxic than turpentine
  • Powerful solvent
  • Dries up quickly, thus saving time on any project

Disadvantages:

  • Toxic if ingested
  • Highly flammable and can cause fire
  • Irritating to the skin, eyes, and lungs

#6. Lavender Spike oil

If you absolutely can’t stand the smell of turpentine or white Spirits type of solvents, you can actually get a solvent that has a sweet, floral aroma the lavender spike oil.

Lavender spike oil is an essential oil handcrafted from the finest quality lavender.

The oil can be used to thin paint, clean paintbrushes, remove varnish, and polish wood. It’s also a natural disinfectant that can be used to clean surfaces around the house.

Advantages:

  • Natural disinfectant
  • It thins oil painting mediums, resins, and varnishes
  • It can be used as a cleaning agent
  • It can be used in aromatherapy candles because of its pleasant lavender smell
  • Safer than turpentine since it doesn’t have any hazardous chemicals that can be toxic if inhaled

Disadvantages:

  • Quite expensive, so it can only be used to thin paint and not for cleaning brushes or surfaces
  • The bottle design may lead to wastage of oil when pouring

#7. Vinegar

Vinegar is an acetic acid that can be used as a natural paint thinner for oil-based paints.

vinegar

It’s also a great cleaning agent and can be used to remove paint from hard surfaces. In addition, vinegar is non-toxic and less flammable than other paint thinners, making it a safer option to use indoors.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive
  • Non-toxic
  • Less flammable than other paint thinners
  • It can be used as a cleaning agent

Disadvantages:

  • Strong smell
  • Not as strong of a solvent as other paint thinners

#8. Klean Strip Green Paint Thinner

Klean Strip Green Paint Thinner is a safe, eco-friendly paint thinner made from natural ingredients. It can be used to thin oil-based paints and varnishes, remove paint from surfaces, and clean paintbrushes.

Klean Strip Green Paint Thinner is non-toxic, biodegradable, and less flammable than other paint thinners, making it a safer indoor option.

Advantages:

  • Safe and eco-friendly
  • Can be used to thin oil paints without affecting the dried paints
  • Non-toxic
  • Biodegradable
  • Less flammable but still shouldn’t be subjected to direct sunlight.
  • Can’t remove paint from surfaces

Disadvantages:

  • Not as strong of a solvent as turpentine or acetone
  • It may not be available in all areas

#9. Green Envy Paint Thinner

Green Envy Paint Thinner is another excellent option if you’re looking for an efficient paint thinner that is better for your health and environment.

It effectively thins oil-based and latex paint products and can also be used to remove paint from surfaces.

Besides, Green Envy is non-toxic, biodegradable, and doesn’t contain petroleum-based solvents, making it a safer option for indoor and outdoor use.

Advantages:

  • Low odor and toxins
  • Biodegradable
  • It doesn’t contain petroleum-based solvents
  • Less flammable

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than other paint thinners
  • Not as strong of a solvent
  • Not a completely natural product and can be harmful if inhaled

#10. Eco Solve Paint Thinner

Eco Solve is a safe, eco-friendly paint thinner made by Natural Earth. It’s made from fruit and vegetable extracts, making it a more natural option than other paint thinners.

Eco Solve can be used to remove paint from surfaces, thin oil-based paints and varnishes, and clean paintbrushes. It’s a top-quality product that allows you to work with oil-based paints without any issue.

Advantages:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Cause no harm to your skin
  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable
  • Non -toxic

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than chemical-based thinners
  • Used for specific purposes by artists instead of residential and commercial projects
  • Although it’s non-toxic, its fume can cause headache and dizziness if inhaled
  • It takes time to dry

How to Use Paint Thinner Alternative to Thin Paint?

Here are some tips on how to use paint thinner to thin your paint:

Choose appropriate paint thinner

You’ll want to choose a specially designed product that works with the type of paint you’re using.

For example, if you’re working with oil-based paints, you’ll want to use a paint thinner designed for oil-based paints.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Be sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. This will ensure that you’re using the product correctly and safely.

Test the paint thinner on a small area first- Before using it on your entire project, test it out on a small area first. This will allow you to see how the paint thinner affects the paint and ensure that you’re happy with the results.

Use proper ventilation

When using any paint thinner, it’s essential to use adequate ventilation to ensure that you’re not exposing yourself to harmful fumes.

Clean up properly

Once you’re finished using the paint thinner, remember to clean up any leftover products and dispose of them properly.

Storing Paint Thinner

After using paint thinner, it’s critical to store it properly, so it doesn’t become a safety hazard. Store in a cool, dry place and ensure the container is properly sealed.

Refer to the manufacturer’s directions for the ideal storage temperature and consider labeling the container, so you know what’s inside.

Conclusion

Paint thinners are essential for many painting projects, but they can also harm your health and the environment.

Fortunately, most paint thinner alternatives are available that are just as effective but much safer. So if you’re looking for a paint thinner substitute, consider the products listed above.