Cleaning the rollers

Hi everybody,

we are small and young letterpress studio based in Slovakia. We own Arab platen press. Is it OK if I use denatured alcohol (spirit) for rubber rollers cleaning as well as plate, type (wooden, metal) and polymers? I would like to reduce use of mineral spirits etc as much as possible. Thank you very much in advance

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Well, yes. Alcohol is OK and works well as a solvent. It dries very quickly and over time is probably not kind to your rubber rollers. What do you have against mineral spirit? It works well and is inexpensive. It is also kind to rubber rollers.

Hi, thanks for your comment and advise about alcohol, I hoped that is OK, because I like the smell of it..Anyway, let me clarify the terms with you. Is a mineral spirit same as white spirit in UK?

Yes, mineral spirit is called white spirit in the U.K. We also call it paint thinner. In the U.S. it is available in low odor type. It is not without odor, but is less odor.

It is also called Turps in O.Z. which is short for turpentine

Turpentine and mineral spirit are both used as paint thinner, but I don’t think turps would be a good solvent for printing work. I have not used turps for paint work for many years, but I seem to recall that it left a residue. I have not heard of anyone here in the States who uses it for printing work solvent.

Thank you very much inky and rroddi. So, shall I use the thinner for oil paints? (we use rubber based inks). This is one out of 3 types at least which we got in Slovakia
Sorry for being a little bit of pain, I want to be 100% sure.
One more question is, would you consider lamp oil(kerosene) as a good cleaner as well please?

There is, I suspect, a potential problem with using common names for the materials we use.
I use oil base inks exclusively and have had success for some years now, using mineral turpentine —likely the same as mentioned by rroddi.
Just to clarify, here is a link to the Australian MSDS.
I have not noted any residue and the odour evaporates fairly quickly. Not I aadmit an appealing perfume but bearable.

Many do use lamp oil/kerosene as their solvent. It works well. It does leave a slight oily residue that is beneficial on metal type. Rubber base ink does not like oil, but the residue will be fine with oil base.

I used to use “lamp oil” (kerosene) mixed about 50-50 with white gas (Coleman fuel) for washup. The white gas helped the drying and the mixture left very little oily residue, and both are fairly readily available. This mixture was used with both composition rollers and rubber rollers and they all seems fine with it. I stopped using it because the white gas is harder to get here in Costa Rica.


Good afternoon!
thanks a lot inky, Eucy Bruce1 and Bob for your advises. Now I got a better overview about this topic.

I think I will stick with white spirit eventually.


Martin, you’re the guys who bought my Arab press, I presume. Now, as you’re in Europe, you should get your mixture for washup from
This is the reference:
For cleaning the forme, you can use white gas, or ‘Waschbenzin’ as it’s called in Germany. It won’t leave a residu on your type or polymer.
Check out the website of our Dutch organization Drukwerk in de marge, check under ‘Techniek’ and then ‘Leveranciers’ and you’ll find a list of suppliers in Europe of whatever you need for printing!

Hi Thomas, yes that’s us indeed. Kristina was prompt enough and already bought wash up mixture which you mentioned in link above.
Thank you very much for an useful website. It will be definitely needed in future.

Wishing you all the best and thanks for an incredible machine as Arab definitely is.

Martin and Kristina.