Cleaning up

I found these in the UK – would these be a suitable non-solvent solution for cleaning up after using the press?

[3rd product in the list]

Also would this be any good for cleaning the rubber rollers?


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If you live in the UK why not use good old-fashioned paraffin? Much cheaper than all those you mentioned, and after 50+years in the trade, I can tell you it works for all inks both oil and rubber based, and can be used on compo and rubber rollers. May take a little more effort to ensure all is completely dry at the end, but a good supply of cotton rags should do the job.

I agree totally with Bern. There is too much hype about cleaning up. Paraffin has the advantage of being cheap readily available and will help to protect both rollers and type. You don’t need to use a lot just enough. I always use paper towels to clean up as they can be disposed of straight away. A gallon of paraffin has lasted me over a year and I print virtually every day.

I too think that too much “green hype” has been put forth about cleaning up one’s press. My shop is about as green as one can get…. with solar panels providing the power, recycled paper being the primary stock and so forth. Even so, I use mineral spirits to clean up with and I do so with a clean conscience.

I looked in to some of the “green” press washes, and discovered that they are only marginally cleaner for the environment than plain old mineral spirits, if at all. Some appear to even be worse since they have some funky emulsifiers in them. According to the EPA, the Volitile Organic Compounds emitted into the environment from letterpress shops using solvent-based cleaners is “insignificant”, due to the extremely small amount they typically use.

SO, instead of wasting my money on more expensive products that don’t really help much, I chose to spend my resources on Solar Panels and hand-made paper… which DO help the environment.

Would you both advise Paraffin over White Spirit? Why?

If you are going to print again straight away then use White Spirit. It evaporates rapidly and leaves a clean dry surface on your rollers. If this is the end of the day or you will leave the Press standing for a couple of days, use paraffin. The paraffin leaves a minute oily residue which helps to protect your type, the Press and the Rollers.

The main reason why I aske about the above products is because my Adana is in the house – a small room which serves as an office and one my other half has to spend all day in as she works from home. The reason why I dont want to use solvents is because they smell and someonecant work in room all day that smells of solvents.

All I want to know is, are those 2 products any good for cleaning up?

Hi Centro,
as I guess you are not printing day in and day out it might be a good solution for you to use simple sunflower-oil. This works good with the VanSon colors - both rubberbased and oilbased - is absolutely biological and costs only a few P per Liter. Only a little bit more ellbowgrease is required.
Just my two Cents


Thanks for posting this centro, it’s an issue i’ve been researching for a while without much success - I’ve always used white spirit for wash-up but yes it stinks the house out.

The bio-wash sounds interesting, I don’t know if you noticed but they also stock “CALIGO SAFE WASH” inks made by Cranfield, a very experienced ink manufacturer in South Wales. I believe they recommend their Caligo range for letterpress - its an oil-based ink which can be washed-up with soap and water. Unfortunately they don’t seem to do pms base colours.

There doesn’t seem to be a distributor for California wash, much praised on the other side of the pond for its citrus emissions!

Hans - sunflower-oil - I’ll try it out, thanks!

Of course the other issue you have to address is what you are cleaning up - I think I would stick to white spirit/paraffin if you are using wood type as it would be prone to swelling/shrinking if you used a water based product?

Hope that’s of some use to you and good luck - let us know how you get on.


I bought the full CMYK set of Caligo Safe Wash inks. I’ve used them for overprinting woodcuts with acceptable results. However, I tried using the black for some wedding invites (a mix of fine strokes, 8pt & 10pt serif type) and got absolutely dreadful results.

I cleaned down my press, inked up with some good old fashioned litho ink and without altering anything else got the superb results I aim for.

I’ll probably keep the Caligo ink for messing around with but I certainly will not be using it for any important jobs.