How to Remove a Silicone Sealer

Written by grace alexander
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How to Remove a Silicone Sealer
Silicone sealant around a toilet. (Photo courtesy of Ken Dyck at Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/kjdyck/298405694/)

Removing silicone sealer from household surfaces to replace with new sealant is a routine job that should be performed once every two or three years. Getting silicone sealer off without damaging ceramic, tile, Formica, glass or fibreglass surfaces is key. Using the appropriate tools makes the job fairly easy.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Razor blade
  • Tweezers
  • Non-abrasive scouring pad
  • White spirit (turpentine)
  • Toothbrush
  • Rag

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove as much of the silicone sealer as possible with a razor blade, being careful not to scratch the surface you are working on. If the sealer fills a space between two perpendicular surfaces, slide the razor blade flat along one surface and then the other to free the sealer from each, then peel the strip away. Use tweezers to release small bits from hard-to-reach corners.

  2. 2

    Test white spirit on an hidden area to check for discolouration. Put on protective gloves and a face mask. Use the turpentine to remove any lingering traces of the sealer.

  3. 3

    Coat any remaining sealer with white spirit using a toothbrush. Let it set for a few minutes, then scour the sealer with a non-abrasive pad. Repeat the process until the sealer is completely removed.

  4. 4

    Wipe the surface clean with a soft, cloth rag or towel. Use mild household cleaner that's appropriate for the surface to remove any traces of turpentine. Dispose of remaining white spirit, cloths and toothbrush properly.

  5. 5

    Let the surface dry completely before applying new sealer. If sealer will need to be replaced often, consider filling deep cracks with a solid, hard putty to make it easier to replace the sealant. Let any putty harden completely before applying sealer.

Tips and warnings

  • For hard plastic or painted surfaces that may be damaged by white spirit (for example, cars) use rubbing alcohol with a very soft rag.
  • Only use white spirit in a well-ventilated area, and do not expose the solution to an open flame or sparks.

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