Mineral Spirits to clean Composition Rollers

Is that ok? I recently replaced my rollers - I’ve used rubber before and always cleaned with mineral spirits.

Are Mineral Spirits a suitable cleaner for composition rollers?

As a side note, I have read that california wash is a preferred cleaner, do they sell anything like that in stores or is it an order only type of thing.

Peace and Love

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Mineral spirits are just fine with compostion rollers—as is kerosene—just be sure to coat the rollers with oil when storing to prevent moisture loss or buildup.

Thanks Mike,

What kind of oil is best used to coat the rollers in between print runs?

Others please weigh-in, but I would be careful with oil on comp or rubber rollers. In my experience accidental drops of oil on the ink disk or rollers, when oiling the press, caused me more inking grief than any other single thing. Usually only cured by doing a complete washup. We used comp rollers exclusively except on windmills, and never oiled either.

Dick…do you use mineral spirits to clean??

I’m confused!

Whether or not to oil compo (or Gummy Bear) rollers is a decision based upon the relative humidity in your shop. If you live in a high humidity area, and don’t have an air conditioned shop, then it might be wise to oil them to prevent stickiness later. Compo sucks up mointrue from the air…. and if they go sticky, they don’t print so well.

On the other hand, if you live in Arizona and have an air conditioned shop, you may never see the need for oiling rollers.

Typically, I use PAM on Gummy Bear Rollers, IF I’m not going to use the press for a few days. But, as Dick has mentioned, this needs to be cleaned-off prior to printing. If I’m going to use the press the next day, I just wash up with mineral spirits and don’t worrk about it.

I’ve found that if you use oil based ink, the rollers eventually lose their afinity for soaking up humidity….. and they are less of a problem.

Oh yeah… read the label on California Wash before you use it on compo rollers. I don’t know that particular brand, BUT many of the new washes are water-based emulsions which will ruin your compos. Stick with mineral spirits. It’s got a 400 year track record for working well.

Yes, we used mineral spirits to wash up. We knew it as “solvent”, the same as paint thinner. It was bought from Gas Stations who carried it bulk just like motor oil. Bring you own metal container. The weather conditions were very moderate in the San Fernando Valley and Riverside, California shops where I worked in the 1950s and 60s.

Just a note here. Several manufacturers of mineral spirits have recently joined the green bandwagon and the new products are quite oily. Meaning, you have to figure out some other way of getting the stuff off of your rollers when it comes to print time. Mainly this is a problem with brands carried by chains like Home Depot and OSH. Local hardware stores are still somewhat of a sanctuary for non-green compromised products. Wouldn’t you know, the last and best has joined the newest and worst.


I would recommend oiling rollers no matter what the local conditions are, especially if getting summer/winter or gummi bear style rollers vs the all season grade from Tarheel. Composition rollers can dry out and crack just as readily as swelling up and bursting.

I just use the same oil that I lubricate the press with (non-detergent 30 weight. You only need a dime sized puddle to oil and 8 x 12 roller and it should only take a quick wipe down with mineral spirits to clean them off. Oiling rollers is especially important if storing rollers for long periods. Having a wooden roller box also reduces temperature/humidity changes rollers experience in storage.

Thanks to all for the great advice!!