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Get a New Paint Job: Best Paint Thinners

  1. Sunnyside Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner
  2. Kleen-Strip Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner
  3. Jasco Paint Thinner
  4. Klean-Strip Lacquer Paint Thinner
  5. Crown Paint Thinner
  6. Buyer's Guide

Cleaning up after a paint job always requires some sort of solvent. For latex paints, this solvent is water; but for many paint products like oil-based paint and varnish, some other solvent is needed. Unfortunately, these other solvents aren’t as benign as water. For this reason, the EPA has been creating regulations that pressure paint manufacturers to reduce the VOCs in their paints.

By definition Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic liquids that evaporate. The word “organic” refers to chemicals that contain a carbon atom in their molecular makeup. The word “volatile” doesn’t mean that it is flammable, like many people think, but rather that it evaporates. This includes almost all liquids.

Water gets a pass, because the water molecule H2O doesn’t contain carbon; only hydrogen and oxygen. However, pretty much everything else that it used as a solvent for paints qualifies as being VOCs. This is especially true of any oil-based products that are used as paint thinners.

While manufacturers are gradually moving away from oil-based paint products, in order to satisfy FDA regulations, there are still some around. For these products, finding an appropriate solvent for cleanup and thinning of the paint is important. This need to meet FDA regulations draws a line which clearly divides all paint thinners and products. On one side of the line are the more traditional thinners, which have VOCs and on the other side of the line are newer chemical thinners which are either low VOC or don’t contain any VOCs. Some of these newer products actually work incredibly well, especially when you consider that oil and water don’t mix.

In this list of the best paint thinners in 2022, we’ll cover both categories of paint thinners. Keep in mind that paint formulations vary widely, so the results you get from a particular paint thinner may be different than those that I have received. A lot depends upon the particular chemical composition of the paint product you are trying to thin. In all cases, I still have to say that the old-fashioned products work better, even though they are not as good for the environment.

Before trying to pick out a paint thinner, be sure that you know what type of paint material you are expecting to use it with. This is important, as different thinners work with different paints. For example, mineral spirits is excellent for use with standard oil-based paints, but won’t do a thing for cleaning up lacquer; nor does lacquer thinner work well for cleanup of most oil-based paints.

Best Paint Thinner of 2022 Reviewed in Detail

Sunnyside Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner - Best Paint Thinner Overall

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 Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner - Runner Up

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.

best Jasco Paint Thinner

Jasco Paint Thinner - Honorable Mention

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.

best Klean-Strip Lacquer Paint Thinner

Klean-Strip Lacquer Paint Thinner - Consider

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.

best paint thinner

Crown Paint Thinner - Best Paint Thinner

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.

Buyer's Guide

If you’re an artist who’s ever held a grudge against a pesky clump of paint that doesn’t seem to glide off, you already know how important paint thinners are. These are incredibly underrated painting supplies, yet their usefulness is totally unmatched. Not all paints, especially not oil based ones, are of ideal consistency. Sometimes, you just need an extra gentle glide for that perfect stroke on canvas that can’t be achieved without the best paint thinner on hand.

You strive to make mesmerizing art but that’s only possible when you have access to the things you need. While water-based colors can be made less thick with a few drops from the tap, the same can’t be said for oil paints. Rest assured, the best paint thinner can ease your quest which is why it deserves a spot at the top of your list. As people’s love for art continues to grow, there are more varieties of paint thinners in the market than ever before. This only means that you have to be more careful in your choice for the sake of your artwork.

The best paint thinner can bring an artist’s most bewildering dreams to life

If there’s anything that makes art special, it’s the unheralded freedom of expression without the need for words. Therefore, every stroke of the brush sends an important, rather elusive, message for the viewer to decode. But crafting these messages in the first place is no easy feat. And that’s where paint thinner comes in. Without it, an artist would be stuck every time the paint they used proved too stubborn and thick.

Why you should buy paint thinner as soon as you can

Better artwork

One of the reasons your artwork may not be turning out the way you want is because the paint you’re using is too thick. However, it’s often hard to let go of a unique shade simply because the consistency isn’t ideal. In that case, using a paint thinner can be a life saver.

Easier clean ups

Paint thinner isn’t just used while you’re immersed in creating amazing artwork. If you’re fond of oil paints, the best paint thinner brand can make your clean ups twice as fast. Oil based paints tend to dry up too fast, making it hard to dissolve residue from different surfaces. Needless to say, plain old detergent cannot get the job done.

Quicker painting

If you’re tired of sitting in front of the canvas for hours on end, a great way to speed up your process is to use paint thinners. When artists use paints with subpar consistencies, their whole art regime can inadvertently slow down. This is because each stroke takes longer than necessary.

How to choose the best paint thinner for your masterpiece?

Choosing between the myriad of paint thinner options today can be a little confusing. However, you must only stick to your regular painting style to settle on a thinner that suits your artistic vision. Some of the best paint thinners out there can be used for blending pencil colors. This is just one of the many amazing benefits of getting your hands on this nifty art staple.

Bottle size

If it’s your first time buying paint thinner, don’t be surprised if you think that the bottle is too small. Paint thinners last a reasonably long time even if they aren’t in extravagant quantities. This is because you don’t really need much of it to begin with. The amount required to even out the consistency of a standard sized paint bottle is very little. Rest assured, a few drops go a long way but do read the manufacturer’s instructions before mixing any the thinner with paint.


Paint thinner is one of those things that shouldn’t be bought unless they have a reliable label on top. True artists know that the quality of paint supplies is directly determined by the brand they’re associated with and paint thinner is no exception to this rule. As is, paint thinners are not the best thing to breathe in or be exposed to for a long period of time. With unreliable brands, you can get some of the most toxic varieties you shouldn’t even be near.


There are various types of paint thinners, each of which is individually suited to a variety of paints. Oil-based varieties have specific paint thinners and such is the case with acrylics. You must decide what to buy depending on the type of paints you usually use. So, make sure you carefully check the label.


Art supplies are notorious for being expensive and paint thinner is definitely one of them. This doesn’t mean that the category of products are worth hundreds of dollars. Simply that the quantity to price ratio can feel a little discouraging. Remember! Buying paint thinner is a long-term investment because there’s no way you’ll run out of it any soon.


Q: How can I use paint thinner?
A: The right way to use paint thinner is to stick to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Make sure you check the back of the bottle for the usage guidelines. In any case, do not make the mistake of using too much. You only need very little thinner for a much greater quantity of the paint itself.

Q: Can paint thinner make me sick?
A: Inhaling paint thinner fumes is undeniably injurious to your health. So, be careful while using it and try to be in a well-ventilated area. Needless to say, extended exposure to the thinner can make people sick and nauseous.

Q: Can I buy odorless paint thinner?
A: Yes absolutely, some paint thinners have an overwhelming amount of odor which makes it hard to use them. If you feel squeamish because of scents, it’s best that you get an odor-free variant.

Q: Can I use water instead of paint thinner?
A: You can only use water as paint thinner if you’re using water solvent paints. Oil paints cannot be dissolved or made less thick without paint thinner.

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