Leave no traces: How to remove glue from most surfaces
No matter how careful you are, spills, overflow, and misplaced applications happen when using glue. Fortunately, to remove glue, most of the supplies you’ll need are already in your cupboard. Follow our tutorial for techniques to getting unwanted glue off metal, plastic, glass, fabric, leather, concrete, and other common materials.
We all occasionally get a little sloppy with our projects. Spills and overflow are possible when working with glues, epoxies, and adhesives, resulting in unwanted residues. However, powerful multipurpose super glues, like Loctite Super Glue Ultra Gel Control, can usually be removed using materials commonly found in your workshop or around your home. Save time and your surfaces by being ready to react quickly with the right know-how.
Getting unwanted glue off steel, aluminum, or other common metals requires careful attention, but doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here’s some simple tips for how to remove glue from metal.
- Always begin by cleaning away any dirt or residue from the area with water and a cloth. All techniques work better on clean surfaces.
- Soak a cleaning rag or cotton ball in pure acetone. If pure acetone isn’t handy, try nail polish remover. Press the rag or cotton against the glue until it dissolves. Wipe away thoroughly.
- Try scraping it away with a putty knife or razor blade. Be careful with this tactic to avoid scratching or scuffing the metal. Try softening the glue first with a household all-purpose cleaner.
- For a tougher alternative to acetone, experiment with denatured alcohol, lighter fluid, or hydrogen peroxide. Apply with a rag or cotton ball, hold to dissolve the glue, then wipe away.
Removing glue from painted metal follows a similar process but requires a bit stronger solution.
Again, start with a clean surface. Then, coat the area in question with a spray lubricant. Let it soak in, wiping away any excess on surfaces beyond the glue. Butane lighter fluid may also do the trick.
Use a plastic card, putty knife, or similar dull edge to scrape away the glue. Use firm pressure and smooth strokes until the glue is entirely removed. For some surfaces, such as car exteriors, you may want to wax the surface.
Tip! For a milder alternative to these powerful solvents, try this same method using vegetable oil.
Getting glue off plastic requires understanding your plastic. If possible, always test any product on an inconspicuous spot first to see how it reacts, as different grades of plastic will respond differently. Be sure to read product instructions for warnings.
For a gentle approach, try vegetable oil or skin moisturizer. Use a soaked cloth and dab it repeatedly, saturating the glue. Let it soak in, then clean off with a rag. Vinegar can also remove unwanted hardened glue from plastic. Soak the area using only white vinegar, then work the glue away with a credit card, spatula, or similar edge.
To remove glue from glass surfaces, try a combination of manual and chemical methods. Apply petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, vinegar, or oil (alternately, oil-based substances like mayonnaise or margarine) to the area. Saturate fully and gently work the glue away with a scraper or scouring pad.
Another method for removing glue from glass, is by varying the temperature. Soak the area with warm water, then scrape away glue. Soaking the glass overnight in hot soapy water can also help loosen the adhesive. If this doesn’t work, try acetone or alcohol, testing on a small area first in case of damage to the glass.
To get stubborn super glue stains or spills out of fabric, begin by trying to scrape off as much glue as you can, using a gentle touch so as not to stretch or tear fabric. Soak the fabric overnight in cold water.
After soaking, apply a small amount of liquid laundry detergent into the glue and massage it in with a soft brush. Wash the fabric as normal in warm water. If the glue persists, try applying acetone on a cotton ball and working it into the glue. Be mindful with delicate fabrics, as acetone can cause discoloration. Wash again on the warm cycle.
Removing glue from leather, or similar materials such as suede, takes a light touch.
Begin by scraping the glue gently with a dull edge to remove as much material as you can without damaging the leather. Apply warm soapy water with a sponge, soaking the glue with suds. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth, repeating as necessary.
If the glue still sticks, try the acetone method. Dab a cotton ball soaked with acetone-based nail polish remover on the glue, being careful not to smear it. Allow it to permeate and loosen the glue, then wipe it away with a cloth.
All-purpose adhesives, like Loctite Go2 Glue, create durable, water-resistant bonds with concrete. Barring a precise application, you might end up with unwanted glue on your concrete. Fear not, removing the glue is easy.
Begin by physically removing the hardened glue with a putty knife, or similar dull edge. For working on concrete floors, you can also try a long-handle razor blade scraper.
Boiling water can soften the glue. Try just hot water first, working it into the glue and washing it away. For stubborn glue, try mixing in a small amount of ammonia with dish detergent and scrubbing.
Heat it up! For glue stuck to floors, try warming it up using an iron. Cover the glue with kitchen paper and glide the iron over the area, then pry the loosened glue away.