Friday 21 January 2022

Make your own Acrylic thinner and cleaner


I will start this review by stating quite clearly that the recipe's I will list below are NOT mine. They are a revision or tweak of several recipe's that are freely available on the internet as articles (like this one) and YouTube tutorial videos. I can't credit an individual for the original recipe as this is essentially my own variation that I have created that best suits the paint that I use and the results that it produces for me. 


This is something that I have not seen covered in many articles. The main reason I suppose is cost. For the equivalent amount of thinner or cleaner purchased from an acrylic paint manufacturer (amazon used as a price comparison) I would run a bill of easily three figures as opposed to the original £50 investment (approximately) that I made to start making my own. The other bonus is that you are able to tweak the recipe with each new batch to cater to your own individual needs/preferences/paint used. 

What you will need

The acrylic paint that I use almost exclusively is from the Vallejo range so this exact recipe has been catered for this specific paint range. I will point out however that all of the other recipe lists contain the same ingredients in varying amounts. 

Thinner per litre

590ml of Distilled water

300ml of IPA 99%

55ml of acrylic flow improver (I use Vallejo but any acrylic flow improver will work)

55ml of acrylic retarder (I use galleria but any acrylic retarder will work)

I will point out that the cost of flow improver and retarder is relatively high (compared to the other ingredients) but I also use these products in their own right as part of my model painting anyway. 

Cleaner per litre

360ml of distilled water

360ml of ammonia free window cleaner

240ml of IPA 99%

20 drops of pure glycerine  

You may be wondering why glycerine is an ingredient for the cleaner. Essentially when this is run through an airbrush it will leave a very thin coat inside it. This is a natural lubricant and won't affect the acrylic paint that follows it. Its also really good to use when you break your airbrush down for a major clean. I lightly coat all of the moving parts of the brush with the glycerine (and then wipe off) before I re-assemble it. Again this leaves a really lightweight lubricating layer on all of the components that leaves no adverse affect on the brush. 

Final thoughts 

I have worked out very roughly I might add that I can make approximately six and a half litres of thinner and cleaner (or 3.25 litres of each) after purchasing 5 litres of distilled water and 1 litre of IPA. The window cleaner cost me £2, distilled water £6 and IPA £7. While everything else has higher costs they will last a lot longer than the original 6.5 litre batch of cleaner/thinner that you make. As an example the bottle of pure glycerine I bought cost me £5 but I estimate I will need to replace this at my current usage in around 3 - 4 years time! I have used both of these recipes for around 8 months now and they are both fantastic and have not produced any adverse results at any point. The cost savings are significant and the only downside that I have experienced is finding somewhere to store the additional bottles of the ingredients and the high volumes of cleaner and thinner that I make (by storing I actually mean hiding them from my wife!) 

Until next time happy model making! 

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