How to remove plumber's putty

Written by gail delaney
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When putting in a new faucet or drain, plumber's putty is often used to provide a waterproof seal between two hard surfaces. When securing the fixture in place, excess plumber's putty may squish out from around the seal. Although this putty is a pliable substance and usually does not harden or shrink, it is important to remove the old putty before installing new fixtures in place for a clean, professional looking job.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Razor blade
  • Kitchen scrubber
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Putty knife or flathead screwdriver
  • Candle flame or torch
  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Rubbing alcohol or odourless white spirit

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  1. 1

    Remove excess plumber's putty with a razor blade. Hold the blade at a 90-degree angle and carefully scrape the putty away. Don't scrape so deeply that you scratch the surface underneath the putty.

  2. 2

    Scrub the putty residue away with a kitchen scrubber. Do not apply abrasive powders or cleaners; otherwise, the surface may become scratched. Pick up any little pieces with a lint-free cloth and then rinse the area clean with water. If the putty is harder to remove, proceed to the next step.

  3. 3

    Heat the blade of a putty knife or flathead screwdriver with a candle flame or torch. Position the blade at a 90-degree angle, close to the surface where the putty is stuck, and gently scrape it away. Keep heating the blade of your chisel or flathead screwdriver. Wear safety gloves to avoid getting burnt. If there is a thick excess of plumber's putty, proceed to the next step.

  4. 4

    Place the edge of a putty knife or flathead screwdriver at a 90-degree angle against the base of the putty. Position the blade as close to the surface as possible, but not so close that you are scraping the countertop or sink. Hit the handle of the chisel or screwdriver with a hammer. Work quickly back and forth across the putty, but do not push the edge of the chisel into the surface that the putty is adhered to.

  5. 5

    Repeat the scrubbing of step 2 to clean the area.

  6. 6

    Dip a clean cloth into rubbing alcohol or odourless white spirit. Blot the stained area, changing or rotating the cloth to avoid reapplying the stain. Rubbing alcohol and white spirit pull the oily stain from the plumber's putty. Wear protective gloves to protect your skin from these solvents.

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