Can i use odorless mineral spirits to clean my rollers and press?


I am relatively new to the letterpress thing, and i was wondering if i would harm the rollers on my tabletop press if i clean then with odorless mineral spirits (the smae stuff i use to clean my oil paints…) ? Is there something special i need to buy to clean all of this with?

I appreciate any help in this! Thanks and hope to hear your thoughts.

Don Kilpatrick

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Mineral spirits (paint thinner) was recommended by Vandercook (in their literature) for cleaning synthetic rubber rollers. The deodorized version is best as the toluene and xylene components (methylbenzenes) have been removed. A bit less effective and more costly that way, but far safer and far less lingering smell. It’s about a third the cost of comparable industry solvents.


Yes you can use deordorized mineral spirits to clean your rollers. In fact, it’s probably the best roller cleaner you can use.

I urge you to avoid using some of the alternative cleaning concoctionisms such as Veggie Oil and Simple Green that are being put forth on the Internet nowadays. I get a number of e-mails from folks each week asking for my help with inking problems. Almost invariably, the problem stems from long-term use of veggie oil as a cleaner. The oil tends to oxidize / polymerize into a non-ink-friendly surface that causes all sorts of problems. To correct it, they always wind up scrubbing the rollers with a hydrocarbon solvent…. or replacing the deteriorated rollers.

You can save yourself a lot of problems down the road by cleaning your rollers correctly, right from the start. Use mineral spirits, and avoid the alternative goops.