Remover/Thinner/Cleaner Buying Guide

  • Getting Started

  • As the name says, a thinner is a product used to "thin" and dissolve the content of a finish, mostly paint. They make the finish less reliable and much easier to remove. A remover is a chemical used to remove the product entirely from a surface. Cleaning agents are substances used every day in a different form and with a different purpose. Choosing the right product is imperative for getting the desired results.

  • What to Consider

  • The type - there are several types of removals, thinners and cleaners. All depends on the type of work you are about to get done.

    The surface - consider the surface you are using the products for before choosing the right one.

    Tools - when choosing the right product, consider the way you are about to apply it.

    Tips - learn some tips on using all these agents before buying the right one for yourself. They might cause you to change your decision.

  • Types of Removers

  • Solvent based removers contain MC (methylene chloride), and they are active for 15-30 minutes. This strong remover can strip up to 15 layers of paint or some other finish. Solvent based removers are robust and efficient. Solvent, type of removers penetrate into the layers. The main characteristic is the ability to break the bond between paint layers.

    Safer removers are as the name says safe and not dangerous for usage. They are water based. Also, they do not have a smell, and secure removers are not flammable. Recommended usage is for the brick and stone and also for the wood or metal.

  • Forms of Removers

  • Thin remover should be applied if a surface is flat and had a lot of layers. This remover is easy to apply.

    Thick paste is perfect for vertical surfaces. Thick paint can be used without fear it will fall off the surface, or it will not stick well.

    Safety issues - Some of the removers can be highly flammable, and it is necessary to use protection gear. Cover the body, hands and eyes.

  • Remover Tools and Applications

  • Brushes - use them to apply the remover on flat surfaces. Recommended for thin remover application.

    Scrub pads - they help to remove the finish or paint. 

    Scrapers - used to remove the finish after the thinner has dissolved it.

    Heat gun - If the case chemical products are not available, or person does not want to use them, there is an option to use other non-chemical removers.  Best tool and option to do so is with the heat gun. Heat gun utilises a heated scraper which will make a finish less stronger and with sharp moves it can be removed without any chemical. This process will take longer time. However, there is no need for additional equipment.

  • Types of Thinners

  • Description - Thinner is a solution used before applying a remover. It helps to soften the layers of finish or paint.  Thinners are used to help remove oil-based paints. Removing a latex based finish is usually done with strong chemical remover. Paint thinner is a mineral spirit, and it is easy to use.


        •  Acetone

        •  Naphtha

        •  Spirits like white spirit or mineral spirit

        •  Turpentine

        •  Phenol

        •  Benzyl

        •  MEK also was known as Methyl ethyl, and it is useful for removal of cellulose nitrate    

        •  DMF Dimethylformamide

        •  Ethanol is appropriate for removing a shellac finish

  • Tips for Choosing The Best Remover

  • Hazardous effect - are the removers and thinners flammable. Choose the ones which are not. If using a flammable remover, keep it away from open fire

    Storage  - make sure remover is not left open. In contact with air, they tend to evaporate and lose the chemical properties.

    Is it Cost and environmentally friendly - do not buy a large amount and buy products with fewer chemicals. Buy smaller packages which will be used in one go.

    Patch test- test and see how will the remover react with the surface. Not all removers respond in the same way. If possible ask for a sample and test it before buying a larger quantity.

    Understand what are the good and bad sides of the product:

        •  Turpentine is the best option for a product which will be fast and efficient. It has fewer chemicals than other. It is more cleaning product than thinner.

        •  Naphtha is also known as benzene, and it is the best option for degreasing.  It is inflammable product and needs to be handled with care

        •  Lacquer Thinner is the best for cleaning used brushes but as a thinner is not the best possible option.

        •  Mineral Spirits have no smell and are used to thin the paint. It is not flammable. However, it will vaporise fast if left in the open for too long.

        •  Alcohol is a thinner which  can be used to remove shellac-based finishes.

  • Cleaning Agents

  • Cleaning agents are substances used every day in a different form and with a different purpose. Their  propose can vary based on the areas where cleaning needs to be done, and but in general are used to remove: dirt, stains, dust, smell, bacteria

    Forms:  Most big cleaning agents can be purchased in form of:

        •  powders

        •  sprays

        •  granules

        •  liquids

    Ingredients: Cleaning products are used for multiple reasons, mostly to remove stains, odor, bacteria and all those reasons are for health or beauty. Cleaning products are water based, but they can contain:

        •  Acidic is used for inorganic/mineral content like scaling. They have an active ingredient like mineral acid, and some inhibitors might be added.

        •  Hydrochloric acid is known as mineral acid.

        •  Sulfuric acid is used in cleaners to unblock clogged pipes

        •  Non-Chemical option is vinegar, and it can  help to clean scale and lime

    Locations:  All these cleaning agents can be used in different living areas like: Kitchens, toilets, rooms, offices

    Surfaces: These cleaning agents can be used on the following surfaces:  Glass, wood, ceramics, marble, concrete

  • Tips for Choosing The Right Cleaning Agent

  • Ingredients list - there should be the exact list of the ingredients used. If the list is not there, do not use the product

    Know what are you using - get familiar with toxins. Some of them can be dangerous, and even they are used to clean and help us maintain our health.

    Take time to find one you prefer to use and do not buy products with the label Caution, Corrosive, Danger, Irritant, Poison, or Warning.

    Consider natural cleaners:  baking soda, vinegar,  castile soap, lemon juice. 

  • Important Points for Cleaning Agents

  • Easy to Use - Cleaning products are supposed to help to clean faster and more efficient. Of course, some effort needs to be added, and some stains might take a longer time or scrubbing but with cleaning product is much faster. If yo need to use more energy to clean particular area and product is not giving any result it might be a time to find a new one

    Durable - cleaning tools and products should last for a long time. Some parts are easier to get damaged, so be careful with them. Using cleaning tools and cleaning agents is making cleaning process faster, and both should last for a long time. Check how long the product should last and buy the one with the longer time span.

    Value - Value for the money is what we are looking for. If possible buy concentrated solutions. Cleaning agents are concentrated in a smaller package.They are usually mixed with other ingredients like water and will provide and excellent cleaning solutions. If possible buy a multi-purpose cleaning solution which can be used on different surfaces and for different types of dirt. Buy in larger quantities or bulk.

  • Cleaning Tools

  • Cleaning tools are necessary for every cleaning process. It is not enough just to apply the product.  Some of them need to be wiped, scrubbed or washed with water.  A wide choice of cleaning tools is available. However, buying basic ones will help to speed up the cleaning process and will make it easy.

        •  A huge selection of sponges is available. Some have a more rough side, and some are the mix of both rough and soft. The sponge can be reused as long as it is washed and cleaned after the usage.

        •  Organic cotton white towels are the best choice. You can find them in ay store, and they are easy to clean after the usage. They can be washed or bleached.

        •  A Squeegee is the best help for cleaning windows and showers

        •  Having different microfibre cloths for different areas to clean the good practice. Using microfibre cloths does not require any cleaning products. Just a little bit of water will be enough

        •  A Spray Bottle is a great time saver when you need to rinse something. Also, they can be used to keep the cleaning products in. If you use concentrated cleaning products and mix them with water,  having a small spray bottle will come in handy

        •  Brooms vary in size and quality and are the primary tool for cleaning any surface out of dust. Together with a dustpan, it is tool number 1.

        •  Mops helps to clean any water stains on the floor and also contributes to wash all of the areas in the house-like floors

        •  Buckets can be used to store cleaning supplies, but also can be utilised when mopping used for tough stains. Sometimes simple sponge and cleaning product are not enough.

        •  Use a scrub brush for tough stains. Sometimes simple sponge and cleaning product are not enough.