Vegetable oil and??

I’m cleaning my rollers with vegetable oil only. I’ve noticed that when I run a second color right after cleaning the rollers the impression is not very good (the ink seems thin/oily).
I guess I need a product to “degrease” de rollers after the vegetable oil and before inking the rollers for the second color…
Is there ANYTHING I can use besides odorless mineral spirits or any other solvent of the same type?
I just want to avoid any fumes from these chemicals. I have two children around and I’m printing in my garage.

IF I absolutely have to use solvents, what would be the best way to dispose the soaked rags after cleaning the rollers?
Where can I buy a fire-resistant/locked cabinet to store the solvents?
Should I wear googles to avoid getting my eyes irritated? Are regular disposable masks enough to avoid inhaling the fumes? How long does it take for the fumes to fully evaporate from the garage if I have ventilation?
Any imput will be helpful!

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Your veg. oil cleanup is indeed the cause of your problem. While I don’t recommend using veg. oil as a cleaner, if you are really so concerned with fire and fumes, you might try using a water/detergent wash following the oil treatment. This will ONLY work if you are using rubber rollers, and you must do a very good job of drying the rollers after cleaning so the ink will properly bond to the roller surface. It might be wise to wipe the roller shafts with an oily rag after fully drying the water off).

In my shop (also attached to the home) I use odorless mineral spirits as my roller wash and have no ill effects of the solvent use. It takes very little to actually clean the rollers, and it is really a quite mild solvent in comparison to some that are highly touted on this list.

If you are sensitive to the fumes of this solvent, you would need a mask with a cartridge designed for solvent vapors. The standard dust masks do nothing to filter out vapors.

John H

I was raised in my print shop, my mother worked, and my 3 children were raised in my print shop. They are healthy tall, smart and funny. Our building is 100+ years old and naturally ventilated. (The front door is a venturi) So dispersal of fumes is not a problem. How old and airy is your garage? An exhaust fan should do the trick.
As far as safety cabinet and rag can they can be bought new from any number of industrial supply companies such as Global or used from? Google.
Perhaps you could rent towels and disposal from a local printer who uses a service, I never use my allotment and wouldn’t mind sharing, you would pick up and drop off, and pay a commensurate fee.
As to what chemicals we use, commercial type wash and roller wash from the local printers supply. A luxury made possible by living in the Chicago area. Stuart

This is what I was taught at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts: Wipe everything down first with baby oil. Not vegetable oil, or (heaven forfend) Crisco, but baby oil, which is mineral-oil-based.

You will get almost all the ink off with this; it dilutes the ink to where most of it will wipe right off.

Then finish up by wiping off the oil residue and any remaining ink with odorless mineral spirits.

So easy. Works great. Cuts down use of spirits by a real lot. Makes your print shop smell like a baby.

I’m glad to hear someone else does what I do! I also have a space with almost no ventilation in winter, and stone walls that preclude the addition of any new vents or exhaust fans. I have had good results with mineral/baby oil, and I would say I only need to use a touch of mineral spirits about half the time. Whenever I do need to use a stronger solvent, I have a spot set up just outside the back door. It’s cold out there in the winter, but it does keep the fumes out of the basement.

I used to use vegetable oil myself, but I find mineral oil less sticky and less likely to appeal to pests…

Thanks to ALL of you and your great and helpful responses :)
I’m going to try the baby oil and a final touch with Gamsol (odorless mineral spirits) with my garage open and wearing googles to avoid eye irritation (i use contacts)
Thanks again!

I hope people are still reading this thread. I studied fine art and printmaking and we used vegetable oil to clean up our shop. In fact, now that I run a letterpress design and print shop, I still use vege oil to clean up! I have composition rollers, and I know it is not recommended to use water on them, however, I put a mixture of Dawn dishwashing detergent and water in a spray bottle and I spray it on my rollers after I’ve used the vege oil. After that, I spray on a mixture of water and vinegar and wipe again. I don’t have any problems. My rollers work great, and they don’t appear to have suffered any damage due to water.

You don’t have to use spirits at all.

Good luck.

I use veggie oil for clean up and then diluted simple green to degrease. I learned it at AS220 in Providence, RI {a community printshop}

Not to beat a dead horse as it’s been discussed here a lot, but is Simple Green much better than Odorless Mineral Spirits?

I know that full strength Simple Green makes a great paint stripper (so does Pino Sol) so I’d say no.

Also when using oils for cleanup—the residue takes much longer to dry (if at all), which means you’re putting wet ink in the landfill. At least when using mineral spirits, the ink will dry out and become stable waste.

I use Newman’s Own Italian salad dressing (or whatever is on sale when I run out); I pour a little on the rollers, and it loosens the ink right up. I can leave it in a cruet and let the heavy metals from the ink pigments settle to the bottom, then skim the oil and vinegar off the top and reuse - it’s perfectly safe. My shop smells like a salad bar. To wash it off the rollers I usually use Aqua Velva or sometimes Old Spice, because, being a man, I don’t want my shop smelling like a baby’s butt.

Shouldn’t have ready your post with a mouthful of tea, Paul. (Hey … tea! We haven’t tried that yet!)

But seriously, what people seem to be forgetting is that vegetable oil hardens and gets rancid. Open that can of Crisco that’s been sitting in your pantry since two Thanksgivings ago. Take a look and take a whiff. This isn’t something you want in every nook and cranny of your press.

A while back I bought some anti-skin spray from Daniel Smith, which is soy oil mixed with odorless mineral spirits. I had cleaned some old, corroded 12-point spacing and finished it off with the spray, thinking that the oil would help prevent further corrosion. Well, now when I open that container of spacing, it smells like an old frying pan that someone forgot to wash. What’s worse is that the spacing is all stuck together and takes some prying to separate. Now I spray freshly cleaned type with a mixture of mineral spirits and about 10% 3-in-One. Much better, and so easy to make printing-ready with a swipe of type wash.


well Paul, i don’t know about smelling like a salad bar, maybe leave off the salad. Most printers drink, some more than others, by the end of the day we don’t care what we wash the press with.

One time in New Orleans when I was working in a trade shop, One of the offset guys was eating an eggsalad
sandwhich and running a Davidson at the same time,he
set it down on top of the press an went to adjust the delivery and the sandwhich vibrated right into the ink train.
He ended up buying the forman several beers to keep
quiet about it.

This entire thread is keeping me laughing :)

Devils Tail, your vinegary humor is why we all love you. (That, and your exquisite engravings.)

Roller Wash is a great product to clean rollers since that is what it is made to do.

I clean up first with vegetable oil to cut the ink, and I wipe it completely off of everything. Then I degrease with a baby wipe, and then completely wipe away any moisture that may have been left behind from the wipe with a clean, dry rag. Baby wipes will take the ink off of your hands pretty well too! They are indispensable in my shop. My rollers are in great condition… and my hands are too!

I started in Print Shop in junior high school in 1947. I think this was before rubber base ink was invented. I know we used oil base ink. The press may have been inked early in the school day and may not have been run continuousy during the day. So, by the time the press was to be cleaned, the ink may have dried some or considerably on the press. We gave the ink disk a good squirt of lubricating oil from the oil can and let it work well on the disk and rollers. Then we cleaned up with solvent. Worked well.

There are some printers who smoke cigarettes, cigars, chew tobacco, use drugs, drink alcohol, sit in drive-up lanes eating exhaust fumes from the cars in front of them at the bank or waiting for killer-fast-foods. Twenty-thirty some pounds overweight, they don’t know what exercise is, yet worry about short exposure to fumes from some things like gasoline, kerosene, naphtha.
Printers of my day were exposed to:
—Poorly ventilated composing rooms.
—Washing the self-centering Ludlow sticks in gasoline once a week.
—Melting lead for the Linotypes and Ludlows in an open cauldron sort of smelting pot with all its smoke and fumes. Stirring it was done to skim off all the impurities out of it.
—Cleaning Linotype spacebands with graphite.
—Using a mix of kerosene and gasoline (we called it benzine) as a press wash.
—Carbon tetrachloride used as a type and plate wash. You could always tell the stone man (doing press lockups) from the rest of the printers. Carbon tet had burned the hair out of his nostrils.
—Scrubbing type forms with lye.
—Dust from type cases was pretty heavy and blown out with bellows.
Meanwhile, my shop smells like a print shop, not a salad bar, an oriental restaurant, a day-care center, Dawn soap, Crisco, mineral spirits, California wash (whatever that is!), but if there’s something in their water, I’m sure it would be in their wash!
Excuse me I must go out into my shop now to inhale the wonderful aroma of a real, authentic (it ain’t no studio) print shop.

I wash up my press with the tears I weep when printing. There is nothing better than fighting a 100 year old press while sobbing “Why, oh why, did I ever want to be a printer”. If I’m lucky there will also be a soul crushing deadline. Fear not though, I also watch what fluids I intake so my tears are more environmentally friendly.

@joelanich - Like.

I did a 5 year apprenticship as a platen minder in the UK and Stanislaus reminded me of the many things we used.
Baby Wipes indeed, be a real letterpress printer, splash the white spirit around to clean your press, your type and work surfaces, use proper letterpress ink which sticks under your finger nails, everybody knew what you did for a living by looking at your hands. No, not the missing finger tip from hand feeding, just the many colours.
When visitors come around while I’m demonstrating many comment that the place smells like a print works.

people would come into my shop and tell me there was a strong smell of gasoilne, then they would see the wood stove in the corner, you must just have the stove for show, you can’t possibly run it if you are using gasoline to wash up with, then i would throw another log in the fire. not too many wanted to hang around for long (except the older printers) but now thanks to mothering by a good friend (thanks Devil Tail Press) i’ve switched to coleman fuel. Sometimes i miss the smell of carbon tet, that had to be the nastiest stuff made by man, i had a young girl come into my shop once and stand just inside the door, she took a deep breath and yelled out “i love the smell of an old print shop”, she couldn’t have been more than 25 years old, i asked her if she was an old printer?? she told me her father ran an old shop near Boston, i worked in that area so i asked her who he worked for, she told me that is was a small shop behind a flower store that not many knew it was there. When i said your father must be Don, she grabbed me so hard i thought my ribs would break. Her father and i had lunch once in a while for a few years. i thought it was great that she associated the smells of my letterpress shop with the smells of the old letterpress shop that her father ran. the old shops sure did smell a lot different than todays shops. Sometimes i want to stick my head in a gasoline can and think about the old days but i know my friend Paul would know and give me heck.

nice thread-students like smell-I prefer the term “essence”-!-of turps, inks, white spirit, copperplate oils,press blankets-good job silkscreening solvents and nitric acid are in other rooms…….but once there was a student who seemed to be allergic to everything so could only do watercolours.

Smell sharing
I did some time in a storefront offset shop. The customer service area was separated from the press room by a wall with two doors that were always open.
A lady came in and asked how we could stand the awful smell. I didn’t say so to her but my thought was — Lady, this is printer’s perfume. It is the outdoors with auto and truck exhaust that smells bad.
We become immune to the smell just as I become immune to the accumulation and clutter in my shop.