Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lincoln Wash

I'm not sure how many of you use white spirit to clean your rollers after you're done with printing. I used to use it. I'm probably one of very few people who actually likes the smell of it! Recently however, I decided that I wasn't going to use it anymore. It cleans effectively, but it smells really strong. It makes my hands dry. And the smell, as much as I like it, lingers in my airways for a few days at least. Also, it's probably not very safe to use when you have small children around. It's a clear liquid. They might think it's water. And why make a small person inhale toxic fumes. Wikipedia says: "White spirit has a fairly low acute toxicity by inhalation of the vapour, dermal (touching the skin) and oral routes (ingestion). However, acute exposure can lead to central nervous system depression resulting in lack of coordination and slowed reactions. Exposure to very high concentrations in enclosed spaces can lead to general narcotic effects (drowsiness, dizziness, nausea etc...) and can eventually lead to unconsciousness. Oral ingestion presents a high aspiration hazard. Prolonged or repeated skin exposure over a long period of time can result in severe irritant dermatitis, also called contact dermatitis."

So what other options do we have? A few things:

1. Vegetable oil
2. Citri Wash
3. Lincoln wash

All supposedly safer than white spirit. And the don't smell!

Anyone use anything else?


  1. Having studied printmaking, I am one of those people who loves the smell of mineral spirits and denatured alcohol too! I'm sure those days of improper handling and exposure were not the best for me, even though we had ventilation. I'm glad you are seeking alternatives - especially with children around!

  2. I use vegetable oil to clean my rollers and equipment, and white spirit for my blocks. I tried using oil on the blocks, but it gummed up the fine detail.

    I do try to keep my exposure to thinners etc to a minimum - I developed an allergy to ink at art school, and it took many years to get that under control.

  3. Holly! Ahhh!! I'm not the only one who likes the smell!;) I don't think it's totally harmful, but better to be safe anyhow! :))

  4. Jesse, yes, oil isn't too great for the blocks. They suggest using gloves - which could be good when washing up rollers and blocks? A find using scrim rather than cloth/rag makes it easier to clean too.

  5. I tried the Citri wash but it wouldn't get the ink of my wood blocks and veg oil leaves a greasy film (not good on my press rollers) so still using white spirit and I love the smell too ;D
    I tranfer mine to a used washing up liquid bottle so it's easier to control the amount I use.
    The citri wash smells nice, might work for you but don't know what ink you're using? I use oil/rubber based for letterpress
    jax x

  6. try this

    works very well