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How to remove glue from clothing

Updated April 17, 2017

Glue is a great adhesive for DIY and craft projects, but when it gets into the threads and fibres of your favourite clothes it can become a real problem. To avoid having to dispose of a perfectly good garment, try removing the sticky glue spot yourself. In some cases glue removal may be dependent upon the type of fabric, but there are some general guidelines that can help in most situations.

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Remove super glue

  1. Let the glue stain dry completely. Trying to remove it while wet could damage the fabric.

  2. Remove the top surface of glue on the fabric using a pair of tweezers or a hand razor. Be careful not to damage the actual fabric in the process.

  3. Check to see if acetone will discolour or damage the clothing by applying a small amount of it to the fabric using a cotton wool ball. Choose an area that cannot be seen, such an inside seam or hem. Let sit until the acetone dries. If, after that, the fabric seems undamaged, place a paper towel underneath the clothing. Swab acetone on to the glue spot to soften up the glue caught in the fibres.

  4. Use an emery board to remove any remaining surface glue or use a soft toothbrush to loosen the glue from the fibres. Let it dry and repeat a second time, if necessary.

  5. Repeat the process on the inside of the clothing item. This will make sure the glue is worked completely out of the fabric.

  6. Apply a stain release agent to the remaining glue spot before washing according to the care instructions. They may indicate the need to use a stain remover made for delicate fibres or a certain water temperature.

  7. Air-dry the clothing. The heat of a dryer will seal any remaining glue in the fibres, making it almost impossible to remove.

  8. Repeat the acetone process between washings to further soften the spot. If there is no change after five or six washings, do not repeat the acetone process again since it will not make any difference.

  9. Use an adhesive solvent or lighter fluid if everything else fails and the clothing will be thrown away if the glue cannot be removed. Dab it on with a clean cloth, being careful not to destroy the fabric. Since it is a last ditch effort, it is worth taking the chance.

  10. Wash the clothing following the fabric's care instructions. If the spot remains, it probably can't be removed.

Remove craft glue from dry clean-only items

  1. Use a soft sponge or soft clean cloth to dab distilled water onto the glue while it is still wet. Carefully work the glue out of the fibres moving outward from its central location. If plain water is not doing the trick, move on to the next part of the process.

  2. Mix together a few drops of white cider vinegar and a quarter cup of distilled water. Using this mixture, dab at the glue spot following the same technique as before.

  3. Rinse the clothing by dabbing it in distilled water with a sponge. Put a dry clean cloth beneath the fabric to absorb the vinegar and water.

  4. Take the garment to a dry cleaner if all else fails.

Remove craft glue from washable clothes

  1. Immediately apply very hot water to the wet glue spot. Using a sponge or clean, soft cloth, work the glue out of the fibres while the heat remains to dissolve the adhesive.

  2. Soak the article of clothing in warm water mixed with a few drops of gentle detergent. Let it sit for one or two hours. If the glue stain remains, try working it out with a soft toothbrush. Soak once more.

  3. Add 1 tbsp of white cider vinegar to the soak water. Check to make certain the fabric will not discolour by dabbing a bit of the vinegar water on an area of the fabric that will not show. Let it dry. If no discolouration occurs, then soak the entire garment for another half-hour. Rinse thoroughly.

  4. Remove already dried glue by applying a paper towel directly against the spot. Underneath, place a piece of brown paper. Use a hot iron to transfer the glue to the paper towel. Remove the towel as quickly as possible in order to keep the glue from seeping back into the fabric.

  5. Wash and dry the clothing after completing this process.

  6. Use a solvent if nothing else works. Follow the instructions on the label.

  7. Warning

    Be careful not to get pure acetone on the skin since it will burn and could damage the skin.

    Do not use heavy solvents like gasoline to try to remove super glue. It will likely damage the fabric and could create a much bigger problem.

    Follow safety instructions when working with any type of dangerous solvent (like lighter fluid).

    Do not try to remove glue from dry clean only fabrics or delicate fabrics like silk or satin.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers or hand razor
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Emery board
  • Stain releasing agent
  • Detergent
  • Adhesive solvent
  • Sponge or soft, clean cloth
  • Distilled water
  • Vinegar
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Brown paper
  • Iron

About the Author

A business and education specialist for 30 years, Chantel Alise also owned a management and marketing training company. She has written newsletters and training manuals as well as business articles for Enid News and Eagle's Business Journal. She is principle writer for Beauty Biz. Alsie attended Thomas Nelson Community College (Virginia) and Phillips University (Oklahoma).

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