How to get silly putty out of clothes & furniture

Silly Putty is the brand name given to soft, mouldable, bouncy clay that children play with. The putty has its origins in industrial scientific research and was invented in 1943 by James Wright, a Scottish engineer, while working for General Electric. Scientists attempted to find a use for the putty in industry but it ended up being marketed and sold as a children's toy as early as 1949. While Silly Putty is a fun toy for children, it can be very messy if embedded into clothing or furniture fabrics.

Stick the piece of clothing with Silly Putty on it in a plastic bag in the freezer. If the Silly Putty is stuck on furniture, instead make a large tray of ice (out of water) in the freezer.

Leave the piece of clothing in the freezer for one hour or until the Silly Putty is hard when you touch it. If doing the ice cube method instead, wait until the ice cubes are completely frozen to remove them from the freezer. Then rub the affected area on the furniture repeatedly with ice cubes until the Silly Putty hardens.

Remove the clothing from the freezer. Peel the hardened Silly Putty off the clothing or furniture using your fingers or a dull knife (such as a butter knife).

Wet a washcloth with a little soap and warm water and rub the affected area on the clothing or piece of furniture.

Purchase a natural, oil-based cleaner and solvent in a spray bottle.

Pry off any excess Silly Putty with your fingers, or using a butter knife or a spoon.

Spray an area on the inside of the clothing or furniture fabric in a not-so-noticeable place to test the fabric's reaction to the solvent. You need to do this to ensure that the solvent you purchased will not stain the clothing or furniture fabric (and it shouldn't).

Spray the affected area of clothing or furniture liberally with the cleaning solvent and let it sink into the fabric for a few minutes.

Scrape the area again with a butter knife or spoon until you remove all the Silly Putty pieces. Wet a washcloth with warm water and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Wipe the affected area several times to remove any remaining residue from the Silly Putty.

Things You'll Need

  • Natural, oil-based cleaner and solvent
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Washcloth
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Ice
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About the Author

Anne Redler is a writer who has worked in research and publishing since 1996. She has published work on the topics of macroeconomics and financial markets, including articles in the "Financial Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Redler holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Master of Business Administration from Boston University.