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What Precautions Should I Take When Using Paint Thinner?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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Paint thinner, specifically the mineral-based substitute for turpentine, is a highly volatile and hazardous substance that must be used with care. Certain precautions should be taken to use it safely and without incident.

The fumes from paint thinner are not only harmful if inhaled; they are also flammable. In order for this chemical to be used safely, it should always be used in a well-ventilated area away from any source of open flame. The fumes should never be inhaled, especially in high concentrations. Make sure your work area is well ventilated by opening a window or running an exhaust fan, and wear a face mask to reduce the inhalation of fumes.

Open flame is an important consideration when working with any paint products. Be sure the work area is clear and free from any gas pilot lights and sources of electrical sparks. Do not strike matches or use a lighter in a room where paint thinner is being used. Also, be sure there are no candles lit near the work area.

You might also want to protect the work area if it is not specifically designated to work. If you are using paint thinner in a part of the house where carpet or furniture could be damaged from contact, be sure to cover all work areas with a thick mill plastic tarp.

Even when you are done working with paint thinner, it is important that you take the proper precautions for disposal and storage. Always follow the manufacturer’s printed directions for product storage. To properly dispose of this chemical, drain the clear liquid from the top of stored containers into another paint can or bottle for reuse and allow the sludge at the bottom to dry before disposing of it.

Store paint thinner out of the reach of children and others. It is a household product that is commonly abused as an inhalant. Inhalation of the fumes at high concentration levels can be fatal. Inadvertent ingestion is also fatal. If you know someone has inhaled or swallowed this product, seek immediate emergency medical help.

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Discussion Comments
By anon277741 — On Jul 01, 2012

I need help! I used a paint thinner that was too harsh on the inside of a clear acrylic plastic bowl. Now the whole thing is cloudy. What can I use to polish or fix this mistake?

By jjruszkowski — On Apr 08, 2012

I spilled some paint thinner on a hardwood floor and would like to remove it.

Can I bring the hardwood floor back to the original look or did the paint thinner do permanent damage?

By anon138402 — On Dec 31, 2010

My husband thought that it would be a good idea to wash a pair of his pants on which paint thinner had spilled, in our washer, along with a few other things. Now everything smells of paint thinner and even though I next ran hot water, a small amount of detergent and vinegar through without clothing, the washer still reeks of the paint thinner. I am desperate to find a safe way to get the washer usable again.

By anon136972 — On Dec 25, 2010

We were about to grill shishkabobs however had no lighter fluid for the charcoal. Thus, we poured some paint thinner on the charcoal to get things started. Would it be safe to eat the grilled food so long as we let the paint thinner burn out for about eight minutes? This was outside in a well ventilated area.

By anon56308 — On Dec 14, 2009

I was working with paint thinner, and put the cloth in my pocket, not realizing that the cloth had thinner on it and the thinner was in my jeans rubbing on my leg for at least four hours. now my skin is irritated and discolored. is there anything i can do about it? Please help!

By fizzymoon1 — On Oct 21, 2008

well put it this way anon159 i would not eat your vegetables. It would not be advisable no. Go and buy a rain butt instead.

By anon9407 — On Mar 05, 2008

from the paint thinner i have used, it likes to eat rubber gloves. so i would assume it is corrosive.

By anon7567 — On Jan 29, 2008

Is paint thinner corrosive?

By anon1462 — On May 31, 2007

can you advise me of an alternative cleaning agent, we currently use thinners to degrease metal prior to painting

By anon159 — On Apr 17, 2007

How long a life would paint thinner residue have in a large 500 gal plastic container that has been open to the elements.

I would now like to use this container for rain water storage that would then be used on a vegetable garden!

Please advise.

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