If you have kids, you know that glue messes are common and result in sticky messes. But glue stains should never mean having to throw a piece of clothing into the trash. You’ll learn how to get glue out of clothes and remove stains safely and effectively without causing further damage to the clothing.
Different types of glue spills require different methods of cleaning. Some of the most popular types of glue are water-based, rubber cement, and super glue. Kids often use water-based glues for crafts and school projects, which is safe and non-toxic, but has the tendency to get everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE!).
Luckily water-based glue spills are simple to remove. Removing super-glue, rubber cement, or any other non-water based glues require a more involved technique. So, be sure to know what type of glue you are dealing with before you try to remove any glue mess, in order to know that you will fix the problem and not create more damage.
General Tips For Removing Glue From Clothing
- Always let the glue dry completely first before attempting to remove it. If the glue is still wet then you risk the possibility of forcing more glue deeper into the fibers of the clothing, which makes it much harder to tackle.
- Don’t use heat to remove glue. Heat will set the glue into place, making it harder to remove. Let the glue dry naturally, even if it means waiting instead of removing it immediately. In case the first round of washing didn’t remove all of the glue, let the clothes air dry, just in case you have to repeat the washing. If you use the dryer, the heat may set the glue.
- If you use a solvent to remove the glue, be sure to test the clothes for color fastness first, so that you don’t run the risk of causing more damage to the clothing.
What is Color Fastness?
Color fastness is the degree to which the fabric will fade or bleed. You don’t want the solvent to cause your clothes to bleed or fade. There are several types of color fastness tests including light, washing and rubbing.
If you are going to use a solvent or a potential solution that may impact the color of the fabric, test in it an inconspicuous spot first. It’s better to be same than sorry!
Removing Water-Based Glue from Clothing
Removing water-based glue from clothes is pretty easy. Since it is water-soluble it can be removed with soap and water, as long as you use the correct process.
- Always check the label first to know whether to proceed with the following steps at home, or to send to the dry cleaners for professional removal.
- Allow the glue to dry completely. Water-based glues can take a while to dry, so consider just letting it sit overnight to make sure it’s fully dry before handling it. When the glue is completely clear and no white is showing, it is a good indication that it is completely dry. You really don’t want to handle removing the glue while it’s wet as you’ll end up making a bigger mess for yourself in the long run.
- Gently scrape off as much of the glue as possible using a dry, stiff-bristled brush or the dull edge of a spoon. If using the edge of the spoon, you may be able to get under the glue enough to wedge the whole dried piece off. This will work better the longer you let the glue dry. You may not be able to remove all of the glue like this, but it should remove most of the top layers.
- Since there will still be a little bit of glue left on (and in) the fabric, soak the clothing in a tub of cold water overnight. Water-based glues respond well to being flushed with water, as it helps the glue to dissolve and detach from the fabric. Warm water, however, will make this step counterproductive as it sets the glue instead of softening it, so be sure to use cold water.
- After at least 12 hours, remove the clothing from the water and massage a few drops of liquid laundry detergent into the area of the stain. Using detergent that acts as a pre-treatment works best for this step. Massage the detergent for quite a few minutes to ensure that it penetrates deeply into the fibers of the fabric. This step should completely eliminate the remainder of the stain, so keep massaging until no glue is noticeably present on the fabric anymore.
- Put the clothing in the washing machine, wash normally on a cool setting, and add a gentle laundry detergent. After the washing cycle, let the clothing air dry.
- Double check the area to make sure that all glue has been effectively removed. Once you are positive that all the glue has been removed, you can start washing it like normal again.
Removing Super Glue from Clothing
Removing super glue from clothes is a slightly more complicated process that requires extra care, so as not to cause further damage to delicate fabrics. Super glue is typically a cyanoacrylate glue that isn’t water soluble. This means that washing the glue off with water alone will not help to remove the glue. It requires a stronger method.
If you are dealing with an extra delicate piece of clothing, then make sure to check the care label to know if it is safe to attempt the super glue removal process. If you are not sure, consult with a professional dry cleaner before proceeding with the steps listed below.
To remove super glue from clothing:
- Let the super glue completely dry. Once it is dry, attempt to give it a gentle scrape or scrub to flake off some of the dried glue. Don’t expect too much of it to come off this way though, super glue is quite solidified once it has dried.
- Get ahold of a bottle of acetone. Acetone is a chemical found in some nail polish removers and it is one of the most effective products available for removing super glue. It can even successfully remove super glue from skin and other surfaces. Just be sure to always use it gently and with caution since it is a harsh chemical. For removal on fabrics, dampen a cotton ball, a piece of wool or a rag with acetone and gently dab the area of super glue.
- The acetone will slowly dissolve the superglue and the cotton ball will lift it away. For that reason, make sure to change out cotton balls fairly often.
- Finally, after the acetone has done its job, place the piece of clothing into the washing machine with detergent and wash normally. After washing the clothes, double check to ensure that the stain has been completely removed before drying.
Removing Rubber Cement from Clothing
Rubber cement is commonly used as an adhesive for crafts and household repairs. It’s incredibly useful for bonding two non-porous materials together, but when it ends up on clothes or soft fabrics it can be a nightmare to get out. Follow these steps to safely and effectively remove rubber cement from soft fabrics and clothing.
- As always, first check the label to ensure that it is safe to remove the rubber cement yourself. Delicate or special fabrics may require the help of a professional dry cleaner.
- Let the rubber cement dry completely. Rubber cement typically dries much faster than water-based glues, so you may only need to let it sit for 30 minutes before it is completely dry and ready to be removed.
- Scrape off as much rubber cement as possible using your fingernail, a kitchen knife, or a nail file. Make sure to go about this step gently so that no damage is done to the clothing. Rubber cement should ball up when it is scraped off. Some pieces may only need to be picked off with your fingernails.
- Rub either a bit of petroleum jelly or acetone on the surface of the rubber cement. Try to not let any of it get on the surface of the clothes itself, and try to contain it so that it only makes contact with the stain. Use q-tips or cotton swabs to apply acetone or petroleum jelly, depending on how big or small the stain is.
- Spray the stain with a laundry stain pre-treater. Place in the washing machine and wash normally on a warm setting. After the washing cycle is complete, double check to make sure the stain is completely gone before drying. If remnants of the stain are still present, repeat steps 3-5.
Removing Other Types of Glue from Clothing
Remove Wood Glue from Fabric
Another common household glue is wood glue. Luckily, wood glues are usually water-soluble so that method of removal is typically effective. However, some wood glue stains are a little hardier and might require to be dabbed with a bit of white vinegar before being soaked in cold water.
Let the vinegar sit on the stain for at least ten minutes and then attempt to peel or scrape the stain off the fabric. Check for color fastness first though.
Remove Hot Glue from Fabric
This happens to me all the time. I **think** it is better than burning my finger on the glue gun tip, but it’s a toss-up! Let the hot glue dry. Once dry, attempt to carefully peel it off from the fabric. You may have success removing the glue entirely this way. You should at least be able to remove some pieces or even the majority of it. Soak a cotton swab in 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and dab it on the stain. This should loosen the grip of the glue on the fabric and allow you to peel the remaining pieces off. After it has been completely removed, dab the area with warm water to clean. Place in the laundry machine with high-quality detergent and wash normally.
I’d love to hear from you! What tips and tricks do you have to remove glue from fabric?