Clean (Tack) & Mineral Spirits2 recommendations

Waterlox® products, including ORIGINAL, H2OLOX®, TRUETONE®, MARINE, UTOS and URETHANE are formulated and manufactured to be used as is, out of the can or as ‘no thinning required’; therefore we do NOT recommend thinning.

There are many references to mineral spirits2 throughout our guides, tips and instructions. Mineral spirits is a solvent that is derived from petroleum and is considered an oil-based solvent (e.g.: dissolves oils and other non-polar substances). See the Waterlox® and Solvents guide for more in-depth information. This guide helps to identify some common solvents and provides some general guidance on where they may (or may not) fit into the process. For a quick solvent guide, see the Quick Solvent Reference Guide.

There are two main uses for solvents: cleaning (tacking) and thinning. Depending on how the solvent will be used, there may be a few options. Read and carefully follow all label instructions and safety information provided by the manufacturer.

Preparation is the most important step to finishing a wood project. The purpose of cleaning/tacking the surface before a coat and/or between a coat of finish is to clean the surface really well, prior to coating. After vacuuming the surface with and against the grain, we recommend tacking it. This can be accomplished by using a mop or lint-free rag or micro-fiber mop dampened with mineral spirits (paint thinner)1 which will attract any remaining dust and dirt.

Mineral spirits (paint thinner)2 is recommended because Waterlox® finishes are based in this solvent and are therefore compatible with it if any residual is left on the surface. Mineral spirits (paint thinner)1 also evaporates slower than other more intense solvents such as lacquer thinner.

We do NOT recommend the use of commercially-marketed “tack rags”. These type of marketed “tack rags” leave a gummy residue on surfaces that is not coatable.

1 Do NOT thin, mix, clean brushes or applicator tools or wipe wood surfaces with products labeled as: “Low-VOC Mineral Spirits”, “Green Mineral Spirits”, “Low-VOC Multi-Purpose Solvents” or “Low-Odor Mineral Spirits”. These types of solvents are not compatible with Waterlox® products. Many of these solvents/cleaners contain up to 50% water and surfactants and/or they are blends of VOC-compliant solvents and acetone. Acetone is not a suitable solvent with our products and any products with water will raise the grain of bare wood. Look for product labels that read “100% aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent” or “100% petroleum distillates”.

2 If regular mineral spirits or paint thinner is not available in your area, there are alternatives. Visit