Even the tiniest glue mishaps can ruin any fabric unless you know how to remove glue from clothing.
Accidentally spilling glue on fabric can happen at any moment, despite being careful when helping the kids with school projects, doing your manicures at home, or fixing furniture. We’ve all been there! But before you panic, remember that glue stains can be removed if you act quickly and know what household cleaning items to use.
Keep reading to discover the best methods of using household cleaning solutions to save your clothes and any fabric from various types of glue stains.
First Steps in Removing Glue Stains From Clothing
Determine the Type of Glue
There’s no universal solution to remove all types of glue because each serves a different purpose, which also means varying adhesion strengths. So, it’s important to know the basics of the different types of glue to determine the best way to remove their stains from your clothing and any fabric.
To Scrape or Not to Scrape?
For most accidental spills on fabric, the usual advice is to remove all excess liquid before it dries up quickly. That’s not always the case, though, when you’re dealing with glue stains.
Chemical-based adhesives like super glue, nail glue, commercial adhesives, and rubber cement must be completely dry before you start working on removing them.
Glues primarily made for kids, such as white school glue and glitter glue, are often water-soluble. You should quickly remove the excess spillage from those before they dry up for easier stain removal.
On the other hand, hot glue stains need to be frozen before scraping off the excess glue.
Prepare the Stain Remover
Knowing the type of glue spilled on your clothing is also crucial in choosing the most effective household stain remover. You can get the glue off the fabric with basic cleaning solutions, while others will require products like acetone or detergent.
How to Remove Glue From Clothing: Step-By-Step Guides
As mentioned, the steps to remove stains from different glue types can differ depending on their main active ingredient. The same goes for the main cleaning solution and the detergent strength you’ll need to wash off the stains completely.
Don’t worry, most of the cleaning solutions you’ll need are most likely available in your home already.
Materials You’ll Need for Various Types of Glue Stains:
- Dull knife or round-edge spoon
- Acetone-based nail polish remover
- Cotton swab
- Regular and/or heavy-duty laundry detergent
- Oxygen-based bleach
- Distilled white vinegar
- Liquid dishwashing soap
Removing Super Glue
Super glue’s main component is the cyanoacrylate monomer, which gives it a strong, quick-drying bond that works on various materials. Unfortunately, it also makes super glue a tough stain to remove.
How to remove super glue stains:
1. Let the glue dry completely: Avoid wiping or scraping off the excess super glue before it’s dry because it will only spread on the fabric, making it harder to remove.
2. Test for possible discoloration: Using a cotton swab, dab a small amount of acetone in a conspicuous area of the clothing to make sure the solution won’t ruin the garment.
3. Use acetone: Dip a cotton swab into the acetone and gently dab the solution from the edges of the stain toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Keep dabbing the solution until the stain is fully dissolved. Don’t forget to change the cotton swab once it’s saturated with super glue.
4. Wash off the remaining glue stains: Apply a heavy-duty laundry detergent directly on the stain and let it rest for 10-20 minutes. Wash the clothing as usual, and it’s best not to use hot water because it might set any residual super glue.
Removing Hot Glue
Hot glue sticks are melted using a hot glue gun, so it’s easy to spill melted hot glue on clothes and upholstery. It also dries up quickly compared to other types of glue.
Follow these tips on how to remove hot glue from fabric:
1. Freeze the fabric: Place the stained garment in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
2. Scrape off hot glue residue: Use a dull butter knife or round-edge spoon to scrape off as much hardened glue as possible without damaging the fabric. You can also use a needle to lift tiny glue pieces from the clothing.
3. Apply acetone solution: Dip a cotton swab in acetone and dab it onto the residual hot glue. Clean the stain from the edges toward the center to prevent it from spreading. Keep dabbing the acetone until all the glue is removed.
4. Wash the garment: Following the fabric label, wash off the glue stain from the clothing using regular laundry detergent.
White School Glue Removal
This may be one of the most common types of glue available in many homes because it’s a standard for making school projects. The good news is white school glue is typically water-based, so removing it can be easy.
Here’s how to remove white school glue stains from fabric:
1. Remove excess glue: Scrape off as much glue as you can with a dull butter knife or spoon.
2. Rinse with cold water: If you manage to remove excess glue before the stain dries up, proceed by rinsing the fabric with cold water. However, if the white glue has hardened, you can soak it in warm (not hot) water until it softens. Then, scrape any excess glue.
3. Wash clothing as usual: A regular detergent should be enough to remove the glue stain.
Glitter Glue Removal
While many glitter glues are water-soluble, they also often contain dye. The added color and sparkles are great on creative projects but not when they stain your clothes.
How to remove glitter glue off clothes:
1. Scrape off the extra glue: Remove any excess adhesive with a dull butter knife or spoon,
2. Flush with cold water: Place the stained area under running cold water to remove any residue.
3. Soak in bleach solution: Mix oxygen-based bleach with water according to label instructions. Then, soak the fabric for a few hours to remove the dye from glitter glue.
4. Wash the garment: Follow the fabric label and wash the clothing as usual. You may have to repeat the washing process until the glue stain is completely removed.
Removing Nail Glue
Most nail glues also contain cyanoacrylate, the same ingredient in super glue. While they serve different purposes, most of the steps to remove them from clothing are the same.
Follow these steps to remove nail glue from your clothing:
1. Wait for the glue to dry: Avoid wiping the excess nail glue to prevent it from spreading and setting into the fabric.
2. Test the acetone on the fabric: Do a quick color test in a tiny part of the inner seam to check if the cleaning solution will cause discoloration.
3. Apply acetone: Dab the acetone-based remover onto the spilled nail glue using a cotton swab. Apply enough solution to saturate the stain and let it sit for up to 2 minutes.
4. Remove the nail glue: Gently scrape the residue with a dull knife once the adhesive is loose. You can use smaller tools like a needle or tweezers to lift smaller bits of nail glue.
5. Wash the fabric: Wash the stained clothing with a heavy-duty detergent.
Rubber Cement Removal
Rubber cement is a great adhesive for small home repairs because it provides a strong, often permanent bond on metal fixtures, plastic items, glass, and leather upholstery.
How to remove rubber cement from clothing:
1. Let the adhesive dry: Don’t wipe or scrub wet rubber cement to prevent it from spreading and going deeper into the fibers of your clothing.
2. Lift the adhesive: Remove as much rubber cement as possible with a dull knife or spoon once the rubber cement is dry.
3. Make a cleaning solution: Prepare a DIY stain remover by mixing warm water, liquid dishwashing soap, and distilled white vinegar.
4. Apply the cleaning solution: Dip a clean cloth into it and dab it onto the rubber cement stain. Saturate the area with the stain remover and let it sit for 10-20 minutes.
5. Wash with laundry detergent: Following the fabric label, wash the clothing as usual. You can use heavy-duty or regular detergent, depending on the severity of the stain.
You might still be able to save your clothing from old and stubborn dried glue stains.
First, soak it in warm, soapy water overnight to loosen the dried glue.
Then, apply white vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes to lift the remaining adhesive before washing the garment with laundry detergent.
If household glue removers don’t work, you might need a commercial-grade glue remover or professional cleaning to remove dried stains.
Acetone is a strong stain remover that should never be used on certain fabrics, including those containing acetate, modacrylic, and triacetate. The same goes for clothing with natural fibers like wool and silk.
Yes. Rubbing or isopropyl alcohol can be a potent stain remover, especially for sticker residue. It’s also relatively safer for synthetic, plastic, and natural fibers, making it a good alternative to acetone-based solutions.
Save Your Clothes With Simple Solutions
You don’t have to immediately say goodbye to your favorite clothes, even after a glue spillage. With the right tools, cleaning solutions, and methods, there’s a good chance you get to save a beloved piece of clothing from glue stains.
And if you have kids at home, make sure to bookmark this post so you know what to do if the inevitable happens!