what’s the difference between paint thinner, reducer, mineral spirits, and wash solvents?


Context: Self teaching auto body.

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Mineral spirits are a bunch of chemically similar solvents, that are the most common type of paint thinner.

Paint thinner is a broader class of solvents, that are not necessarily chemically similar. They work with a number of different paints, but as a general rule if a solvent works with oil paints it can be called paint thinner. Some paint thinners work better with some paints than others.
For extra confusion some paint thinners are just labelled by the chemical they are (like xylene), some are labelled with chemical and paint thinner and some just say paint thinner (these are usually mineral spirits).

Reducer is a solvent that works with urethane paints/resins.

Wash solvents I’m unfamiliar with, sorry.

Remember thinner is not necessarily paint thinner! Laquer thinner sometimes just gets called thinner.

Solvent just means something can be dissolved and carried in it. Different things dissolve in different solvents. Adding the appropriate solvent to paints makes them thin out (all thinners are just types of solvents), while some solvents can be used as strippers or cleaners.