It’s hard to beat good old mineral spirits as a paint thinner. Mineral spirits have replaced turpentine as the “standard” paint thinner for oil-based paints. While it is more volatile and flammable, it does a better cleaning job and is considerably less costly. The other thing is that it produces much lower odor than turpentine does. Some mineral spirits paint thinners are labeled as “low odor paint thinner.” This is really no different than other mineral spirits, but is low odor as compared to other non-mineral spirits options. For cost and ease of use, mineral spirits takes the prize.
Kleen-Strip has revisited mineral spirits and produced a VOC compliant version. This paint thinner retains all of the benefits of any other mineral spirits paint thinner, but will still meet the most restrictive VOC regulations in the country, those of Southern California. They accomplished this by creating a more highly purified version than what is normally considered acceptable. However, this does have a price, as the price listed here is per quart, whereas the price for the normal mineral spirits is for a gallon.
In seeking to find alternative means of thinning paints, which are not harmful to the environment, a wide number of options have been tried. This paint thinner is based upon citrus oil, which has been used successfully in a wide range of cleaners and degreasers. In fact, this paint thinner can also be used as a degreaser for tools and car parts. The citrus oil cuts through grease amazingly well, is water soluble and has a pleasant odor, making it much nicer to work with than other options. The only drawback is the price. This is a .75 liter container, at a much higher price than the gallon of mineral spirits; so don’t waste it.
I’ll have to say that I was extremely skeptical the first time I bought this product. When I poured it out of the container to clean the first brush, I was sure that they salesman had taken me to the cleaners. However, it worked… and when all is said and done, that’s what matters. While I can’t say that it is as easy to work with as mineral spirits, I can say that it got my brushes clean and that’s what I needed it to do. This is a low VOC product, which contains no hazardous air pollutants (per the EPA’s definition) and no ozone-depleating chemicals either. It is made of 65 percent renewable materials, reducing your carbon footprint every time you use it. Don’t be thrown off by other people’s reviews of this excellent product; they’re comparing it to mineral spirits, instead of rating it based upon its own performance. Don’t try using it to thin paint though, as it doesn’t work well for that; just for cleanup.
This product from Sunnyside is similar to the Kleen-Strip “green” product. Like it, it is a “green” product, created to reduce pollutants and impact on the environment. It is also a milky white product, which must be shaken before using. Be sure you shake it well, as it tends to separate while sitting. You can’t use it for thinning paint, but only for cleanup. As a water-based, low VOC product, it does well for cleaning up brushes and other tools. Once again, if you compare it to mineral spirits, you won’t be happy; but if you look at it for what it is, it does the job it is intended to do.