There is nothing more annoying than having glue stuck on places you do not want to have glue on. Adhesives are something that can get on any surface by mistake, and once they are on, it can be hard to get them off.
Knowing how to remove glue from plastic is important because plastic is something that can get damaged easily. One wrong move, you may discolor or disfigure the plastic surface when trying to get the glue off.
But you don’t have to worry anymore, as this article is a thorough guide on removing glue from plastic. In this article, we will focus on the types of glues as well as the types of common remedies.
We have also included as many tips as possible so that you do not end up making a mistake and can get the job done perfectly.
Without any more delay, let’s get into the article!
Methods of Removing Glue from Plastic
In this section, we will talk about some common remedies you can use to generally remove glues from plastic.
Baking Soda & Oil
This is one of the most common at-home fixes to remove glue from plastic. Baking soda in this mixture acts as an exfoliate, which scrubs off the glue. The steps of this method are;
Step 1: Mixing
In a bowl, mix baking soda with oil in a 1:1 ratio. Mix as much as you think you might need. For example, if you want to remove glue left by a sticker label, 1 tablespoon of each will be enough.
You may choose any cooking oil available at home, such as sunflower, canola, coconut, vegetable, olive, etc. If the glue is really stubborn, go for coconut oil as it contains more fat.
Tip: If you want the clean plastic to smell good, add a few drops of any essential oil to the mixture.
Step 2: Applying
With your hand, rub the mixture you made on the glue. Keep rubbing in small circles. This will help the oil saturate the glue better, and the baking soda scrapes off the glue.
Tip: If you have really sensitive skin, wear gloves or use a dry cloth to rub the mixture in. Contact with baking soda can dry out the skin.
Step 3: Let Sit
Allow the mixture to sit on the applied surface for at least half an hour. During this time, the oil and baking soda will work to really soften the glue. Soft glue will be easier to take off. The longer this mixture sits on it, the softer the glue will be, and therefore, the easier it will be to remove.
Tip: Use the default clock app on your smart device or use your kitchen timer to keep track of duration.
Step 4: Scrubbing
Use the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge or a scouring pad to scrub off the adhesive. You can use anything that will be rough enough to pull off the adhesive. Steel wool is another thing that can be used if the other items are not working.
Tip: If the glue still remains, apply more of the mixture on and let sit for another half an hour before trying again.
Step 5: Washing
Now, you have to thoroughly wash the plastic item with warm water and soap to remove the leftover oil as well as tacky glue residue. You can wipe down the surface first with a damp towel soaked with soap.
Then, rinse until the surface is no longer greasy or tacky. Let the surface dry, or use a clean cloth to dry it off.
Tip: Dish soap is the best for this job as it effectively removes oil.
If the kind of glue you have is soft or has been softened with something else, you can use a plastic scraper to scrape off the glue. But, be careful when doing this, as putting too much pressure may scratch the plastic. Carefully wedge your scraper underneath the adhesive, do not do it in haste.
As a scrapper, you can use plastic knives or other slim plastic edges, such as the edge of a plastic card. Do not use anything made of metal or glass because there is a high probability the plastic will get scratched.
As peanut butter is full of fats, it works really well to remove leftover adhesive from stickers.
Step 1: Application
Apply a moderately thick layer of peanut butter on the surface. Let it sit for an hour.
Tip: Smooth & creamy peanut butter will be better at this than chunky ones. You can also use mayonnaise instead of peanut butter; it will work the same.
Step 2: Wiping
By an hour, the glue should be soft enough to be wiped off with the peanut butter. Use a damp cloth and wipe the entire thing off.
Tip: Check a small area first. If the glue is still not soft enough, try again in 30 minutes.
Step 3: Washing
Now, simply wash the residual grease off with soap and water.
If baking soda is not an option for you, try using washing soda.
Step 1: Making the Solution
Fill a big bowl, tub, or sink with warm water. Add about half a cup of washing soda and stir to mix.
Step 2: Soaking
Submerge the plastic item you want to glue off of in the warm water. You do not have to place the entire thing inside if it does not fit; just make sure that the area where the glue is on is soaked.
Step 3: Removing
After about half an hour, the glue should be soft enough to easily slide off. If not, soak for another 30 minutes or use a scraper.
Vinegar is another very effective item to remove adhesive from plastic. If the glue is smeared on a large surface, you might not want to have to scrub it all off. In that case, use vinegar. Also, vinegar works on rather stubborn adhesives. So, if other milder remedies fail, use this.
Step 1: Application
Soak a piece of cloth, large enough to cover the sticky area, in vinegar and leave it over the adhesive for 15 – 30 minutes.
Tip: You can also use paper towels instead of a cloth.
Step 2: Wiping
The glue should be loose enough to be wiped off now. Use a soaked cloth to wipe it off.
Step 3: Washing
Rinse the vinegar off with warm water and soap to get rid of its smell.
Tip: You can use ammonia instead of vinegar for similar results. If you choose to do that, make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area.
Heat is another great way to remove the glue. Some dried-up adhesives can be loosened when exposed to heat. It is one of the cleanest as well as easiest ways of removing glue, so give it a try. It works especially well for stickers, labels, and old bumper stickers of cars.
Step 1: Heating
Turn your air dryer on. Make sure it is on the hot setting, and wait for a few minutes until you notice hot air coming out of it. It is ready to be used.
Step 2: Application
Hold your hair dryer really close to the adhesive, and heat the area for about 30 seconds to a minute. By then, the sticker or label should be ready to come off. If the glue is not a sticker, then it should be soft enough to be scraped off. And if the adhesive is still being stubborn, heat for another 30 seconds.
Tip: If the plastic is of cheap quality or very thin, be careful not to overdo the heating, as it can easily deform or melt the plastic.
Rubbing alcohol is a great handy item to keep around the house. Its applications are endless! Particularly if you are someone who takes on different kinds of DIY projects a lot, you will find that rubbing alcohol comes in handy very often. Here are the steps to removing glue using alcohol-
Step 1: Application
Take a cotton ball or a piece of cotton, and douse it in rubbing alcohol. Apply this to the glue and start scrubbing in circular motions. The glue should start coming off as you scrub.
Step 2: Finishing Up
Keep scrubbing the affected area with the cotton ball until all of the glue comes off, reseal in rubbing alcohol as needed. And you’re done! Since rubbing alcohol vaporizes pretty soon and is odorless, there is no washing needed.
Tip: You can also use nail polish remover or vodka for this if you are running low on rubbing alcohol.
If you are using nail polish remover, make sure it is non-acetone, as acetone can easily damage the plastic.
Yes, you read that right! Pencil erasers can work if the glue is a thin layer or if you have glue residue from a sticker. Rub the glue off as you would do with a pencil mark. The rubber will grip and pull away from the adhesive.
If the glue you want to remove is super glue, follow these steps to take it off-
Step 1: Mixing & Soaking
Mix soap and water in a bowl. Soak a piece of cloth or paper towels in it.
Step 2: Let Sit
Lay the soaked cloth over the adhesive, and keep it that way for several hours. You need to keep the area moist for a long time. If it starts drying up too fast, resoak the cloth and cover it with plastic wrap. Tape the wrap’s edge to seal it.
Step 3: Removing & Repeating
After at least 4-5 hours have passed, take off the plastic wrap and cloth. Blot the now softened adhesive with another clean cloth to start removing it. Repeat steps 2-3 until all of the glue is gone.
Tip: Rubbing alcohol method works for superglue, too.
Once glues made of polyurethane hardens, there is no way to dissolve them. Here’s how you can try removing gorilla glue-
Step 1: Moistening
Much like the previous method, moisten a piece of cloth with alcohol, mineral spirits, or acetone. We would suggest going for mineral spirits or alcohol for this.
Tip: Acetone can melt plastic, so be very careful if you use it. Do a patch test first.
Step 2: Wiping
Use the soaked cloth to scrub & wipe the glue away. This should at least soften the glue, even if it cannot be completely removed.
Step 3: Scraping
Use a scraper and carefully remove the gorilla glue from the plastic surface. In most cases, this step should be easy as cured polyurethane gets foamy. It is relatively easy to break apart & remove.
Tip: You can also use pliers or your fingernails to pick the gorilla glue off. We would recommend this method if you are dealing with soft plastic, as it ensures that no damage is done.
Step 4: Cleaning
Clean the residue with an abrasive sponge and a spray lubricant. The lubricant will weaken the bond of the remaining adhesive, which will allow you to rub it off better.
Tip: Try using vegetable oils if spray lubricant is not available.
If everything else fails, get a cleaner made for removing adhesive, such as Goo Gone, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove the glue. You can find them in hardware stores.
Here are some additional tips for you.
1. Check if the Material Is Damaging to the Plastic
Before you apply anything on plastic, check if the item will damage your plastic surface first by testing on a small area. If it damages the surface, try something else. And if it doesn’t, go ahead with the steps.
2. Cover the Surfaces
Prevention is better than cure! Make sure that all surrounding surfaces are covered before you start a DIY project. This may prevent any accidental spills from leaving you in a sticky situation. (pun intended!)
3. Learn Different Methods
Do not just learn about one technique and be on your merry way. It is better to know about a good variety of methods, especially if you do DIY crafts and projects fairly often. You never know what you may or may not have in hand and what may or may not work in a particular situation.
Better be prepared!
4. Only Use Fats and Oils on Non-porous Plastics
Grease can easily seep into porous plastic and stain them. If you are unsure whether the item you have is porous or not, check a small area first. If you notice a stain, discard methods that utilize them and try something else.
That was everything we had on how to remove glue from plastic in our arsenal. With so many different options, you are bound to find at least one or two that work for you. So, do not lose hope and keep trying, even if the first few attempts fail.
And, do not let your creative spirit die because of these minor inconveniences. Keep on being the DIY king or queen that you are. After all, you have us in case of any emergency solutions. You have nothing to worry about.
Good luck with your future endeavors!