Less Toxic Cleaners? Turpenoid Natural?

I was at PLAZA Artist Supplies today and saw a product called Turpenoid Natural. Does anyne know if it is effective for cleaning rubber based inks? or if it waterbased?

I tried to google it but could not find out much about its ingredients and it appears to be a part f the painting world and not the printing world.

The product literature says it is Nontoxic and good for cleaning brushes (oil or alkyd inks).

Is this a variation on California Wash?

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I am unaware of how effective this product is. I can tell you that I now use vegetable oil and simple green to clean my rollers. A fellow printer, who specializes in non-toxic printing, recommended that I try this method. Use a spray bottle with the oil to take off the ink, then simple green to degrease. So far, no issues whatsoever and without the annoying chemical smell in the studio.

Turpenoid Natural is alkali based. It is basically a specifically refined detergent…seems bad for rollers…great for cleaning synthetic brushes and it is not cheap…go with the oil

use gans nature wash

it is basically white technical oil- a colorless type of vegetable oil.

this is the best, most green way to go.

then clean up with simple green or any other similar type that will cut through the oil.

Turpenoid is not really related to California Wash - furthermore “natural” is a misnomer, since turpentine and its kin are distilled from tree sap (that’s where the “gum spirits” phrasing comes from) - that doesn’t really mean its healthy to be around, especially over extended periods of time.

I manage a full print shop for an art school -

For years, we used Gamsol (Gamblin brand mineral-spirit) as our primary cleaning solvent- and despite being ‘no-odor” (a trait which I believe is very problematic), our shop would still stink of solvent after a class-heavy day.

We’ve recently switched over to vegetable oil for 98% of our cleanup, followed by a quick wipe-down with solvent on our rollers and palettes.

The change in odor is remarkable, and the cost of stocking solvents has dropped significantly. I strongly recommend that routine.

veggie oil and simple green to save all of our brains from deteriorating! actually makes cleaner easier, as the oil instantly loosens the ink.

I will have to try the veggie oil. I was also told recently that baby oil might work. sounds strange but i guess if it is less toxic, why not try to see how it works?

Hi there,

I was wondering which Simple Green product you’re talking about that works well for cleanup? I assume it’s OK for both rubber and composite rollers?



If you want to try baby oil, you should just buy mineral oil, which is the main ingredient of baby oil (minus the fragrance). That fake lavender aroma gets old after awhile…

Simple Green is fine if you don’t mind the effects of 2-butoxyethanol in your bloodstream (read the MSDS). Don’t know how it effects the chemistry of synthetic rubber rollers though. Then again, I don’t use it, because I respect my press and expect my rollers to function as per their purpose, for a while at least.

Though I do know this, anyone who cleans their rollers with oils, whether they be petro, veggie, or mineral, or kitchen grease or bathroom cleanser, or whatever alchemical concoction comes to the inquisitive mind, is misinformed.


I would dare say that my letterpress shop is one the most “green” shops in the country. We use lever-cutters and hand-operated presses, have solar panels for our electric lighting, use recycled and alternative papers for most of our work, avoid inks with heavy metals, aneline dyes, or synthetic bases (especially rubber-based) ….. and a whole host of other Environmentally Friendly things. My shop building is Earth-sheltered so that it never requires heat or AC. We even make a lot of our own equipment. AND we’ve been working along those lines for over thirty years now…. In fact, most of my printing / printmaking associates and myself were original “Mother Earth News” life-time subscribers back in the early 1970’s. We know GREEN and have been actually living it for a long, long time.

However, on the topic of “less toxic cleaners” I must concur with Gerald. Most of the “alternative” roller cleaning processes, such as veggie oil or Simple Green are neither better for the environment or safer for the individual. They can also lead to serious inking problems due to oxidized / polymerized oils remaining on the rollers, and to deterioration of rollers.

Some of these processes, such as Veggie Oil may seem safer, and veggie oil by itself would be. Unfortunately you then have to remove the oil rather completely…. which is problematic….. and Simple Green is neither simple, nor very green. In fact, it’s a rather earth-unfriendly concoction. Just read the label and then look up the ingredients on the Internet.

Remember, just because the manufacturer says it’s GREEN does not mean it’s actually safer to use. The folks who make the ingredients for the stuff are the same mega-corps who have a track record for environmental contamination and worker/ public exposure to toxins of horrific proportions.

Deodorized mineral spirits is the best cleaner we’ve found, and it is the only solvent we use in our shop. It is a refined product that has had most of the lighter and nastier hyodrocarbons removed. It still does have some problems, I admit, but we use it sparingly and with plenty of ventilation.

I admire the idea of helping to keep our environment clean. I also know that falling into an Environmental Fad, or buying into a lot of hype, or following a misguided trend is counter-productive to making real progress. I urge you to not be just another mindless sheep, following folks who don’t have the slightest clue what they are talking about.

The best odorless mineral spirits I have ever used is Gamsol. I don’t know the science, but it makes being in a busy studio much more pleasant.

See their solvent comparison chart and MSDS sheet for the details.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY