Poll: Mineral Spirits on Rubber Rollers

Hi all,

I know there is an endless debate on the different materials we use to clean our rollers. What I’m looking for is general feedback on the longevity of your rollers if you use mineral spirits to clean ink off rubber rollers. I was recently told that this can eat the rubber and cause sand like spotting in your prints. I just switched from California Wash and was pretty happy with the mineral spirits and kind of dread having to potentially go back to a press wash. I tend to clean the press multiple times in a day so now I’m worried I may be damaging my rollers.

Many thanks for any feedback!


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It may depend on the material of the rollers — there’s rubber and then there’s rubber — lots of different formulas. I have three presses with “rubber” rollers, all different, but I have been cleaning all of them with mineral spirits for a couple of years and so far no ill effects on any. However, my favorite roller and type wash is a half-and-half mixture of white gas/Coleman fuel/naptha (all the same solvent) and kerosene. The kerosene slows the evaporation of the naptha, but the mixture dries a lot quicker than kerosene alone. But I haven’t yet found a good source for kerosene here in Costa Rica, though I know it is available.


Ah yes, should have been more specific. I use the black rubber rollers.

Thanks Bob for your input!

www.iccompoundco.com makes a Water Miscible Roller wash which also cleans your form (metal and Poly), is low VOC, and doesn’t harm anything.
A little bit goes a long way.
Look them up, I have used their products a long time and I usually don’t endorse, but they are wort it. They also have an awesome hand cleaner and a deep roller Paste to change color on your rollers.

Like Bob, I have used Mineral Spirits for many years, and have seen no ill effects on my rubber rollers. The primary ingredient of mineral spirits is Naptha, as is the California Wash. California Wash has some other additional chemicals (see the SDS, used to be MSDS), but is, for the most part, Naptha as well.

I have noticed that the term “Mineral Spirits” is somewhat generic, and the actual formulation may contain some oils and other materials which makes it “feel” a bit different, but I have not had any issues with it. I have also used kerosene at times, and prefer it for use on composition rollers as it leaves an oily film which helps to keep the composition from absorbing water in the summer months, and tends to keep them from drying out in the winter.

John Henry

I use sunflower oil followed by a low concentrate soapy water, rollers are like new after a year.

I switched to Kero. We used it all the time back when I started out !960’s. Shellite (lighter fluid I think) was kept around for dried ink on blocks or rollers. With a blocked copper halftones the old blokes would scrub them and then pour on shellite and ignite it. Then scrub again.

Mineral Sprits are not the same a Naptha (altho Wiki will tell you they are). It is lower distillation on the charts and is classified just above Kerosine. I usually wash-up with Kerosine, which evaporates slowly, and if I need to do a quick turn-around and use the rollers immediately I will wipe the rollers with Naptha, which evaporates quickly. I do occasionally use Mineral Spirits for wash-up and can assure you that it works fine, although an occasional wash-up with Naptha will help to keep the rollers from glazing. California Wash is Naptha with added carcinogens to slow down the evaporation, and it is expensive considering the costs of the other solvents which can be had at the local hardware store. The concern I have with mineral spirits is the ‘low odor’ selling aspect. The fumes are still there, and you can get more exposure than you realize. I always make it a point to use ventilation, and remove the rags outdoors to evaporate.


I’ve always used Turps to clean rollers and also still have some rubber brayers that are 16+ years and “good to go” that have always been cleaned with Turps.
I always clean outside on an allocated table and leave the rags there to evaporate also, even though I use low odor Turps.