How to Remove Glue

This article explains how to remove glue. Glue is used in a wide variety of applications, but polymers within glue often result in a sticky mess, requiring glue to be removed from materials such as clothing or carpet.

Remove Glue

As with the majority of stains, time is a primary factor in successful removal. Glue hardens as water evaporates from it. The more moisture remaining in the glue, the easier it will be to remove glue from a variety of surfaces. Many types of glue create a permanent bond once they have thoroughly dried and cured. When considering how to remove glue from a surface, remember to work quickly and efficiently. 

Removing Glue from Hard Surfaces

Removing freshly spilled glue from hard surfaces is an easy process. Simply wipe the stain up using a clean cloth dampened with warm water. A mild surface cleaner or dish soap may be used to remove any remaining residue. 

Once glue has dried on a surface, it will need to be softened for easy removal. Dampen a cloth with warm water and place it over the hardened glue. You will need to leave the cloth on the stain, allowing the warmth and dampness to soften the glue. A thin layer of glue may only require 10 to 15 minutes. A thick and dense amount of glue may require several hours.  Once it has softened, remove the glue by wiping with a clean, dry cloth. Finish by using a mild surface cleaner or dish soap to remove any residue.

Removing Fresh Glue from Washable Fabrics

Fresh glue spills on clothing and fabrics can often be removed by rinsing the fabric from the wrong side with warm, running water. Allow the fabric to air dry and inspect for any remaining glue. Placing the fabric in the dryer if it still has glue residue will set the stain and make it harder to remove.

Removing Dried Glue from Washable Fabrics

Once glue has dried into the fibers of a fabric, the removal process will take longer and often require more steps than removing fresh glue stains.

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Warm Water
  • Clean, white towels
  • Prewash stain treatment
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Chlorine or color-safe bleach
  • Dry cleaning solvent

Begin by soaking the fabric in lukewarm water for at least 24 hours. This helps to soften the glue. Wash the fabric in warm water and heavy-duty laundry detergent. Check the stained area for any remaining glue residue. If the glue remains, you will need to use stain removal treatments.

  1. Fold a clean, white towel and place under the stained area. This will hold the stain treatment on the glue, and helps to protect the work surface. 
  2. Apply a generous amount of prewash stain treatment to the glue-stained area. Allow to penetrate the stain for several minutes. 
  3. Rub heavy-duty laundry detergent into the stain and immediately wash. Use the normal wash settings for the fabric type. 
  4. Remove from the washer and check thoroughly for any remaining stains. If discoloration or staining remains, wash using the appropriate bleach for the type of fabric. 
  5. Allow to air dry and inspect for any remaining glue residue. 

Heavy stains may require the use of a dry cleaning solvent for successful glue removal.

  1. Place the fabric stain-side down over a folded clean, white towel. 
  2. Saturate the stained area with dry cleaning solvent. 
  3. Allow to dry.
  4. Rinse under warm, running water. Wash as normal using heavy-duty laundry detergent

Removing Glue from Carpet

Removing glue from carpet works best when the glue is still wet. Dried glue can bond with numerous fibers within the carpet, making removal difficult.

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Warm water
  • Clean, white towels
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  1. Combine warm water with a small amount of laundry detergent. Dampen a clean, white cloth in the detergent solution.
  2. Sponge the cloth over the glue to begin the removal process. Work from the outside of the glue spill toward the inside. This will prevent spreading the glue over a larger surface of the carpet. 
  3. Fresh, white glue should be completely removed at this point. Blot with a clean, damp rag until all of the detergent is removed from the carpet. 

If glue remains, apply a small amount of dry cleaning solvent to only the carpet fibers affected by the glue. Avoid saturating the carpet; the solvent could damage the backing. Allow the solvent to dry and then repeat the laundry detergent cleaning process. 

The type of glue will determine the difficulty level involved in removing a glue stain. White school glue and other water-based glues are generally the easiest to remove. Epoxy-based glues are often the most difficult, requiring the use of dry cleaning solvent. No matter what type of glue, the key is taking steps quickly before it dries.