Harsh Lessons of Paint: Undoing with Mineral Spirits

The astute reader may notice that my HLOP articles carry a theme: paint is hard. People (especially me) make mistakes. Imagine you botch a spray paint job; is the piece you’re painting ruined? Are you doomed to spend hours trying to sand the paint off? Will you have to buy a replacement object to paint?

Thankfully, there’s a real world ctrl-Z for solvent-based paint jobs, and its name is mineral spirits. This powerful solvent is widely available for a reasonable price, usually anywhere paint and home improvement goods are sold. Mineral spirits can dissolve a wide variety of paints, while the paint is both wet and dry. Simply wet a rag or paper towel with a generous amount of mineral spirits and get scrubbing. You will need a fair amount of material to soak up the waste paint, so I recommend grabbing a roll of paper towels before starting.

Be sure to let the waste rags dry outside, as the mineral spirits-soaked rags will be fume-y and extremely flammable. (If mineral spirits isn’t up to the challenge, there’s also acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and paint thinner)

Even if you aren’t an accident-prone buffon like me, mineral spirits still has a place on any modder’s shelf. It’s excellent for cleaning spilled paint off workspaces and hands. Mineral spirits can also strip away sticky glue goo, oils and grease, and much more.

Full disclosure: since mineral spirits is a solvent, it can melt certain plastics and rubbers. Take care not to drip it anywhere sensitive, like electronics, finished wood floors, etc. It can also wash the oils off your skin and dry out your hands, but in my experience this isn’t really an issue. And like many paint products, it’s super flammable and must be stored responsibly.

So go buy some mineral spirits if you don’t have any, the stuff’s amazing!

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