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Cleaning Solvent for Future Use

Although some solvent may be too badly contaminated by paint to be used again – depending on the type of paint involved and other considerations. However, much solvent can be salvaged, especially after the initial cleaning spray through the system – the following rinses, though essential, are likely to be far less tainted than the first load of solvent, and even if that needs to be disposed of. You will not want to use this “recovered” solvent for any other purpose than cleaning in the future, however.

One option is to pour or force the solvent through an appropriately-rated filter to remove the paint particles and other debris, though it may be necessary to either experiment with different types of filters or consult with a car paint expert to find the filter size that cleans the specific paint you are using most effectively.

As an alternative – one which may be especially useful with solvents used to clean up crosslinking paint, which will tend to coalesce into hard particles as the two parts continue their reaction, rather remain in solution -- place the solvent in a clear, wide-mouthed container and let it stand for an hour or slightly longer.

After an hour, most of the heavier particles will have settled to the bottom of the container, and you can carefully dip out the clear solvent at the top, placing it into a separate container marked as cleaning solvent so that you will not use it for any other purpose than cleaning. This settling and dipping can be repeated several times, until a thin layer of ‘sludge’ is left at the bottom which must be disposed of properly, in accordance with local pollution laws.

It is also possible to combine the two methods – first straining, then settling and dipping. None of these methods will allow you to save every drop of solvent for reuse, but they will allow you to recover quite a bit of it and save considerable money in the process. Be sure to place the recovered solvent into a clean bottle or other container which can be firmly capped, and which you have clearly labeled so that you will remember to use this solvent for cleaning and nothing else.


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