What Is Stronger Than Paint Thinner? Powerful Alternatives to Paint Thinner

Bob Thomas


As a qualified painter and decorator, I've come across many situations where paint thinner just didn't cut it for certain tasks.

If you're looking for something stronger than paint thinner to remove stubborn paint or dissolve other substances, you're in the right place.

In this article, we'll explore four powerful alternatives to paint thinner: acetone, lacquer thinner, xylene, and turpentine.

We'll discuss their uses, effectiveness, and the safety precautions you should take when handling these potent solvents.

Quick Summary

Discover stronger alternatives to paint thinner: including 1) acetone, 2) lacquer thinner,  3) xylene, and 4) turpentine. 5) Learn about their uses, effectiveness, and safety precautions to take when handling these powerful solvents.


Acetone, a common ingredient in nail polish removers, is a potent solvent that can dissolve various types of paint, adhesives, and other stubborn substances.

It evaporates quickly, which makes it an excellent choice for removing paint or cleaning tools.


  • Removing paint from brushes, rollers, and other tools
  • Dissolving super glue and other adhesives
  • Stripping paint from various surfaces

Important : Acetone can damage some plastics, so test it on an inconspicuous area before using it on plastic surfaces.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is a powerful solvent blend specifically designed to thin and clean up lacquer-based paints.

It's stronger than paint thinner and can be used to remove a variety of paint types, including oil-based paints.


  • Thinning lacquer-based paints
  • Cleaning brushes and equipment used with lacquer paint
  • Removing paint from surfaces like wood, metal, and glass

Safety Precautions:

  • Wear protective gloves and goggles
  • Use in a well-ventilated area
  • Keep away from open flames or sparks


Xylene is a strong solvent that can be used for various applications, including paint removal, cleaning tools, and thinning specific types of paint.

It's more potent than paint thinner and works effectively on tough paint jobs.


  • Thinning oil-based paints and varnishes
  • Removing paint from surfaces and tools
  • Dissolving adhesives, rubber cement, and other stubborn substances


Turpentine, a traditional paint solvent derived from pine tree resin, is another potent alternative to paint thinner.

It's effective in removing paint, cleaning brushes, and thinning oil-based paints.


  • Thinning oil-based paints
  • Cleaning paintbrushes and other painting equipment
  • Removing paint from surfaces like wood, metal, and glass

Safety Precautions:

  • Wear protective gloves and goggles
  • Use in a well-ventilated area
  • Keep away from open flames or sparks

Powerful Solvent Alternatives Table

Common Uses
Safety Precautions


Paint/tool cleaning, adhesive removal

Test on plastics, well-ventilated area

Lacquer Thinner

Thinning lacquer, paint/tool cleaning

Gloves, goggles, ventilation


Thinning oil-based paints, adhesive removal

Protective gear, ventilation


Thinning oil-based paints, paint/tool cleaning

Gloves, goggles, ventilation

When choosing the right solvent, consider the type of paint or substance you're working with and the surface you're trying to clean or remove paint from.

Here are some general tips to help you make the right choice:

  • Acetone is an excellent all-around solvent that can dissolve a wide range of substances, including paint and adhesives. However, be cautious when using it on plastic surfaces, as it may cause damage.
  • Lacquer thinner is best suited for thinning and cleaning up lacquer-based paints. It's also effective in removing various paint types from surfaces like wood, metal, and glass.
  • Xylene is ideal for thinning oil-based paints and varnishes, as well as removing adhesives and other stubborn substances.
  • Turpentine is a traditional choice for thinning oil-based paints and cleaning brushes and equipment. It's effective in removing paint from surfaces like wood, metal, and glass.

No matter which solvent you choose, always work in a well-ventilated area and wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and goggles.

Keep solvents away from open flames or sparks, as they are highly flammable.

By understanding the strengths and uses of each solvent, you can choose the best alternative to paint thinner for your specific needs.

With the right solvent and proper safety measures, you can tackle even the most stubborn paint jobs and other challenging tasks with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I use paint thinner on water-based paints?

  A: No, paint thinner is not suitable for water-based paints. Instead, use water to thin down water-based paints or clean up after their use.

Q. Are there any eco-friendly alternatives to paint thinners?

  A: Yes, there are eco-friendly alternatives to paint thinners, such as citrus-based solvents and low-odor mineral spirits. These options are generally less harmful to the environment and have a milder odor.

Q. Can I use paint thinner to remove paint from surfaces?

  A: While paint thinner can help to remove paint from surfaces, it's not the most effective solution. Instead, use a paint stripper or remover specifically designed for this purpose to ensure better results.

Q. How should I dispose of used paint thinner?

  A: Do not pour used paint thinner down the drain or throw it in the trash. Instead, follow local regulations for hazardous waste disposal, which often involve taking it to a designated collection facility.

Q. What precautions should I take when using paint thinner?

  A: When using paint thinner, make sure to work in a well-ventilated area and wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses.

Avoid direct contact with your skin or eyes, and keep paint thinner away from open flames or heat sources, as it is highly flammable.

Q. Can I reuse paint thinner?

A: Yes, you can reuse paint thinner by allowing the paint residue to settle at the bottom of a container and then carefully pouring off the clean solvent into a separate container for future use.

Make sure to properly dispose of the remaining paint residue according to local regulations.


If you're looking for a stronger alternative to paint thinner, consider using acetone, lacquer thinner , xylene, or turpentine.

Each of these solvents has its specific uses and effectiveness, making them suitable for different tasks.

Remember that these solvents are more potent than paint thinner, and you should always take the necessary safety precautions when handling them.

Suggested Products:

  1. Klean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits: This low-odor mineral spirits product is a great alternative to traditional paint thinners. It is an ideal choice for those looking to reduce strong odors and minimize the impact on the environment when working with oil-based paints and solvents.
  2. CitraSolv Natural Citrus Solvent: This citrus-based solvent is an eco-friendly option for those looking to replace traditional paint thinners. Derived from the peel of citrus fruits, it is a powerful cleaner and degreaser that can effectively dissolve grease, grime, and even some adhesives, while leaving a pleasant citrus scent.
  3. Soy Gel Paint Remover: This paint remover is made from 100% American-grown soybeans, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional paint strippers. It is effective at removing multiple layers of paint and varnish without harsh chemicals or strong odors, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
  4. Sunnyside Corporation Green Envy Paint Thinner: This paint thinner is a low-odor, biodegradable alternative to traditional paint thinners. It is formulated to be environmentally friendly, and its low-odor formula makes it perfect for those who are sensitive to strong smells or who want to reduce their impact on the environment.
  5. Krud Kutter Brush Wash: This brush wash solution is designed to clean and restore brushes used with oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes. It is a water-based, biodegradable formula that can effectively remove hardened paint and condition brush bristles, prolonging the life of your brushes while minimizing the use of harsh chemicals.
  6. EZ Strip All-Purpose Remover: This all-purpose remover is a safe and effective alternative to traditional paint thinners and removers. It is formulated to remove paint, varnish, glue, and other coatings from a variety of surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals or strong odors.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}