Mineral Spirits vs Acetone: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional contractor, you’ll likely find yourself in need of some serious cleaning supplies at one point or another. Cleaning products are necessary to maintain the structural integrity of your home and keep it looking its best.

However, with so many different cleaners on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones will work best for any given situation. This is especially true when deciding between mineral spirits vs acetone: two popular solvents used for dissolving substances like glue and paint from surfaces such as wood and metal.

Both mineral spirits and acetone have their own unique properties that make them ideal choices under certain circumstances; however, knowing what those differences are will help ensure that you choose the right solvent for each job.

What is Mineral Spirits?

Mineral spirits is sometimes called mineral turpentine or Stoddard solvents. It is purified petroleum distillates that can be used instead of turpentine.

Turpentine is harvested from pine tree resins, but it has a bad smell and most people don’t want to use it for paintwork in their homes. However, the mineral spirit substitute has a better smell and is reminiscent of kerosene. It is a better substitute for turpentine.

The mineral spirit is an organic solvent and works for tough stains which are hard to clean with water and soap. It acts as a paint thinner, and you might find different brands exclusively sold as paint thinners.

Moreover, you can opt for the odorless mineral spirits as it is suitable for users who can develop an allergic reaction to the solvent. The odorless solvent is highly processed, and the aromatic hydrocarbons have been removed from the product.

Thus people who are easily affected by smells can opt for this solvent. This odorless solvent is used mainly by painters who can spend a lot of time working in closed rooms. Moreover, the odorless mineral spirits perform the same function as the non-refined mineral spirits. 

Although you can use the mineral spirits to paint drawings, it would be better to stay in a well-aerated room or paint outdoors. Moreover, it can irritate the skin and you should wear gloves when using the paint. However, if you are a professional painter you can use the brushes without smearing the paint on your hands.

Benefits of Mineral Spirits

You can use mineral spirits as a paint thinner. It thins the varnishes and is used to mix spray paints. If you don’t like the smell of turpentine, you can use the odorless variety which has the same effects as original mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits are found in other products like aerosols, wood preservatives, paints, and asphalt products.

The mineral spirit is a multi-purpose cleaner, and you would use it to clean the brushes and paint tools after the paintwork. The mineral spirits solvent may clean other messes which you would not clean with the regular cleaners.

Thus, if you have a sticky residue left by stickers, you can soak it in mineral spirits and let it sit before wiping the surface. The solvent will remove the scuff marks on different surfaces. It may leave an oily residue, but the oils will be easy to clean compared to the stubborn mess.

Mineral spirits are used by woodworkers to restore the wood flooring, wood furniture, and wooden floors.

The solvent cleans grime which can build up on the wax used to paint the wooden surfaces. However, you can test the mineral spirits on a non-conspicuous furniture surface and examine how it reacts with the surface before using it to clean the whole surface.

The Stoddard solvent, which is a type of mineral spirit, is used in the dry cleaning industry. It can be used as a solvent for dry cleaning, and you can find fewer aromatic varieties which work well for dry cleaning.

The mineral spirits are non-polar solvents that are used to degrease tools, as they can clean greasy residues which accumulate on tools. Mechanics used the solvents to clean different auto tools; they can soak the solvent in a rag and wipe grime from the tools. Moreover, the solvent might be applied to the manufacturing industry.

People choose mineral spirits since they are versatile and effective in different situations and are relatively safe. Although the mineral spirits might become flammable, it has low vapor pressure making them the least hazardous.

Moreover, it is affordable even in less quantity making it the best substitute for turpentine and is less pungent.

However, you should be careful when using the solvent as it can contaminate groundwater, thus it would be unsafe to damp it in the drainage system. You should contact the local solid waste department about the disposal procedure, and thus it would be better to store the rags soaked in mineral spirits in air-tight containers and dispose of them in local hazardous waste disposal centers.

What is Acetone?

Acetone is a solvent used in the plastic and beauty industry and is sometimes known as propanone. The solvent is a colorless liquid with a strong smell, and you would recognize its smell easily.

It is a component used for the nail painting procedure and is the primary ingredient in nail polish removers. Initially, acetone was a product of fermentation but now is produced through chemical synthesis.

Apart from the beauty industry, you can use acetone to strip paints in your home and to degrease surfaces. Moreover, it is an industrial plastic solvent, and is used as a lacquer thinner, and is applied as an additive in the food industry.

Benefits of Acetone

Acetone is an important solvent in the beauty industry and is the main solvent used to manufacture nail polish remover. You would smell the distinct acetone odor in a nail parlor when beauticians are working on client nail polish.

Moreover, highly processed acetone might be used to remove oils from hair and skin, but you should not use pure acetone on your skin or hair as it can burn your skin. Additionally, acetone is a component of over-the-counter beauty products such as acne treatment medications.

Acetone is a solvent that works on grime which would be hard to clean with water and soap.

Thus, you can use it to strip and dissolve things such as super glue. You should be careful when removing the grime from surfaces using acetone as it can damage plastics and varnished wood.

Acetone removes stains from natural fabrics and acts as a deep cleaner. It can remove varnish and paint stains from your clothes, however, the cloth should be made from natural fabrics as the solvent can damage synthetic materials. It can also remove permanent markers from your clothes easily; thus you can use the solvent to restore your clothes from stains and permanent marks.

Acetone is a degreaser and thins lacquer, and you can use it to clean tools that handle lacquer and polyester. You can also clean fiberglass with acetone as it removes any grime on the glass surface restoring its appearance.

You can use acetone to prepare metal surfaces and wooden materials for painting as it dissolves almost all the grime from the surfaces, and will not leave any oily residues behind.

Acetone is a major product for the textile and pharmaceutical industry as it is used to prepare different medications, blend ingredients, and act as a filler for the medication. Acetone can strengthen the medication making it potent for treating different conditions. Moreover, acetone is used in the textile industry to clean fibers of silk and wool of sticky elements like gums and oils.

You can use acetone to remove rosin flux thus preventing the rusty bolt effect in different construction sites. Moreover, it may be used to print artifacts and for vapor polishing and thus can be applied to practically almost every industry.

People choose acetone as their favorite thinner and degreaser as it is very effective despite the awful smell. The solvent gets the work done and can strip off paint, grease, and thin lacquer.

Although environmental protection has limited acetone use, you can obtain a permit if you need one when working on your projects. You should dispose of acetone carefully and follow regulations, and you should not pour acetone down the drain as it can dissolve the plastic components in the drainage system.

You can dispose of small qualities effectively. For instance, cotton soaked in acetone in a nail parlor is easy to dispose of. However, you should ensure the dustbin is lined with metal to avoid decomposition.

Main Differences Between Mineral Spirits and Acetone

Mineral SpiritsAcetone


It is used mostly to thin paint and varnishes.

It is also used as a solvent and as a cleaner

Acetone is used in the beauty industry to manufacture nail polish and anti-acne medications.

Used in the textile industry and can clean clothes made from natural fibers.

Used as a filler for different medications and increases medication’s potency.

It is also used as a paint thinner.


It is transparent.

It is colorless.


It smells like kerosene, but when highly processed it can be odorless.

It has an irritating odor.


Less flammable

Highly flammable

It uses in the beauty industry

Not used in the beauty industry

Used to make skin peels, anti-cane medication, and nail polish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Substitute For Mineral Spirits?

You can substitute the mineral spirits with turpentine, turpentine is produced from an organic process and has a pungent smell.

However, mineral spirits tend to be odorless and thus are most preferred by painters who work on their art for an extended time without the uncomfortable smell from the turpentine.

Can Mineral Spirits Remove Nail Polish?

Although the mineral spirits might not be used in the beauty industry to remove nail polish from the nails, they can remove nail polish stuck on your clothes. You should not pour nail remover on the clothes as acetone can damage the fabric if it is made from synthetic fibers.

Is There Acetone in Nail Polish Remover?

Yes, acetone is the main ingredient in your nail polish remover, and it increases the removers’ potency. Acetone degrades plastic and nail polish, however, you should not let it touch any synthetic fibers as it degrades the synthetic materials as well.

How Long Should You Soak Nails in Acetone?

You can soak your nails in the acetone mixture for about five minutes. Let it remove nail polish and acrylics. You can then use a metal cuticle pusher to push the polish of the nails.

Start from the cuticles downwards, and the polish will peel off easily from the nails without leaving any residues. If you don’t remove the nail polish with the first trial, you can repeat the process every time for five minutes each consecutive time while pushing the nail polish and acrylics.

Is Denatured Alcohol the Same as Mineral Spirits?

Denatured alcohol is not the same as mineral spirits but they have almost similar applications as it can be used as a solvent and cleaning agent.

However, it contains methanol which is toxic and you should not breathe it in or let it touch your skin. The denatured spirits also are violet in color while the mineral spirits are clear liquid.

Can You Use Mineral Spirits to Clean Skin?

You should not let the mineral spirits touch bare skin as it might cause skin irritation and skin burns. In very small quantities it may not cause harm, but in large quantities, it results in irritation, and you should wash your hand immediately when you accidentally touch the chemical.

Does Acetone Dissolve Plastic?

At high concentrations, acetone damages plastic surfaces softens them and could dissolve them. However, in less concentration, it might only soften the plastics without dissolving them.

Is Acetone Soluble in Water?

Acetone is soluble in water and you can reduce its concentration by dissolving it in water reducing its potency.


You might need to choose between mineral spirits and acetone when stocking solvents and cleaners but you should know their applications and differences. For instance, you can use mineral spirits to thin paint and varnish. It is also used as a solvent and as a cleaner to remove grime and grease from the surface.

It is a component in the paints and used to draw art, and it would be better to avoid letting it touch your hands as it can irritate. However, mineral spirits can leave oils on the surface which are easy to clean with water and soap.

On the other hand, acetone is used to manufacture nail polish and anti-acne medications, and other beauty products. It may use in the textile industry and can clean clothes made from natural fibers and as filler for different medications and increases medication’s potency.