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How to Get Super Glue Out of Pretty Much Anything

Somoene applying super glue to a piece of wood.
Yevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock.com

Super glue is amazing when you need a strong adhesive, but those very same sticky properties can make it a nightmare if it gets on something it shouldn’t. We’ve rounded up some of the easiest ways to remove super glue from any- and everything, and you probably already have everything you need to do it.

While other types of glue, like regular craft glue, are often water-soluble and easy to remove, super-strong glues are designed to adhere even in the face of normal dissolving agents. To safely remove glue spills from surfaces, you can use chemical or physical agents, or some combination of the two. Which products you use depends on where the spill is.

How to Remove Super Glue from Your Skin

A hand applying a cotton ball to another hand, with a bottle of nail polish remover nearby
Amanda Prahl / LifeSavvy

Getting super glue on your fingers can be a huge pain—sometimes, literally! If you find yourself with gluey fingers, there are a few steps you can take to loosen the glue. The key is using products that can break down its bonding agents without damaging your skin.

Follow these steps:

  1. Start with a simple handwash. Using warm water and regular soap, gently wash the area of skin where the glue is stuck. In some cases, this will help soften and loosen the glue, so it can be safely removed. This typically works best if the glue hasn’t completely hardened yet. Even if it has and requires more work, this step is an important starting point.
  2. Rub on an oil-based substance. Massage a greasy or oil-based, skin-safe substance into the area. This could be Vaseline, lotion, or even some vegetable oil from your kitchen. The oil should help break down the glue and lift it away.
  3. Treat the area with nail polish remover. An acetone-based nail polish remover can work wonders. However, because acetone can irritate the skin, use as little as possible. Afterward, wash your skin thoroughly with gentle soap and water as soon as the glue has been removed.
  4. If all else fails, seek medical help. If these methods don’t work, avoid the temptation to keep trying harsher methods and seek medical attention to avoid causing any serious damage.

Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly Original

This skin-safe product can help loosen glue from skin.

Dove Dermaseries Fragrance-Free Hand Cream for Dry Skin

A bit of lotion can also loosen any glue on your skin.

How to Remove Super Glue from Hard Surfaces

A hand holding a kitchen brush on a wood surface with a sliced lemon
Amanda Prahl / LifeSavvy

When super glue sticks to hard surfaces, like plastic, wood, and glass, you can use at least one of the same techniques we covered above: acetone. However, you’ll want to be cautious about using acetone on some surfaces.

For example, you should avoid using it on varnished wood because it can strip and damage the surface. When in doubt, test a bit of acetone on an inconspicuous area before you apply it to an entire surface. Wait a bit (overnight, if possible) and see if any discoloration occurs. If not, you’re good to go!

If you’d rather use a more natural method, try some lemon juice. While it also isn’t safe for every hard surface (its acidity can damage stone, like marble and limestone), it works well on most glass, wood, and plastics. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on the area. For best results, use a fresh lemon, not prepackaged juice products.
  2. Work the juice into the surface. Use an old tooth- or kitchen brush to work the juice into the glue.
  3. Lift it away. The glue should start to dissolve, lift, and flake off the surface. You can use your fingernails to help it along, just be gentle.

Another method involves a little more elbow (and literal) grease, but it also avoids the use of harsh chemical solvents. In some cases, particularly on plastic and glass surfaces, vegetable oil and a scraper tool can be the perfect solution for removing super glue. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. If possible, soak in warm, soapy water. If you can submerge the item, let it soak in warm water and dish soap for about 15 minutes. If this isn’t feasible, you can try to rinse the gluey area with a soapy solution.
  2. Rub oil over the affected area. Apply some vegetable oil to the glue spot, and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Lift off with a plastic scraper. Use a scraper tool to gently lift up and scrape away the glue. It might take a few repetitions of this process to fully remove the glue. Just take your time and be patient.

Razor Blade Scraper, Two Pack

Features both plastic and metal scraper blades.

Happy Belly Vegetable Oil, 48 Fl. Oz.

Helps to loosen glue from hard surfaces without strong chemical solvents.

How to Remove Super Glue from Fabric and Upholstery

A hand holding a soaked cotton ball on a T-shirt, on a tile surface with a jug of vinegar nearby
Amanda Prahl / LifeSavvy

Removing super glue from soft surfaces can be trickier than hard items. Scraping isn’t usually an option, as it would likely damage the fibers. Likewise, harsh solvents are likely to stain or even “melt” fabric, depending on the chemical makeup. So, what can you do?

Generally, removing glue from fabrics is about soaking the affected area with a gentle solvent of some kind to break down the glue bonds. Try one of the following options:

  • Mineral spirits: This petroleum-based solvent is often used to remove paint. It’s also a popular option for removing nail polish, and can also help loosen the bonds of super glue. To try it, saturate a cotton ball or pad and apply it to the affected area. Then, rinse and use a soft edge (a plastic scraper, credit card, or your fingernail) to lift the glue.
  • White vinegar: Although not quite as chemically powerful as the other options, white vinegar has enough acidity to potentially break down the adhesive bonds in glue. The process is the same as that for mineral spirits: saturate a cotton ball or pad, and then apply it to the affected area. Rinse and use a soft edge to gently scrape and lift away the glue.
  • Liquid laundry detergent: Again, this method isn’t quite as strong chemically, but it’s still a good option to loosen the glue. Apply a small amount to the spot, and then work it in with your fingers or a laundry brush. Lift away however much glue you can, rinse (if the item can go in the washing machine, wash it on warm), and then repeat.

Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits Bottle, 4.2oz

The petroleum base can help loosen tough glue.

Heinz White Vinegar (64 fl. oz.)

The mild acidity is a viable alternative to chemical solvents.

Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent

Perfect for loosening glue on clothing or other fabric surfaces.

Next time you find yourself in a (super) sticky situation, there’s no need to panic. With these easy tips and a few common household products, you can remove even the toughest super glue quickly and spend more time relaxing instead.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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