You may not be silly enough to glue your fingers together, but accidental spills happen often, especially if you work with superglue on a regular basis.
If your latest craft project looks less than stellar with those extra superglue stains, you can save it yet because removing superglue from plastic is not that difficult.
Superglue is a cyanoacrylate, which is a family of fast-acting adhesives known for their bonding strength. If you’ve used superglue before, you know that it dries up fast, which means you need to be fast as well as accurate while working with it.
Nevertheless, superglue stains are inevitable, whether you’re making repairs or you’re into a craft project. Fortunately, there are some good hacks to get that hardened glue off the plastic surfaces, so your projects can finally have a nice finish.
The four methods detailed here will give you the lowdown on how to remove superglue from plastic surfaces.
- Method 1: Use Rubbing Alcohol
- Method 2: Use Nail Polish Remover
- Method 3: Use Vinegar
- Method 4: Use Vegetable Oil
Method 1: Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is a versatile cleaning agent and one of the few that can remove superglue from plastic surfaces. It acts like a solvent against dry, hard superglue. Compared to other solvents for superglue, rubbing alcohol doesn’t damage the plastic surface you’re trying to save.
Things you’ll need:
- Rubbing alcohol (acts as solvent)
- Liquid dish soap (cleaning agent)
- Cotton balls
Step 1. Make a soap solution
- Pour water into a tub. You can use a basin or just a large bowl that can hold enough water to completely submerge the plastic item to be cleaned.
- Add a little liquid dish soap to the water and mix thoroughly.
- If you’re using 1 gallon of water, put in about 2 tablespoons of dish soap. Keeping the ratio of the ingredients same, you can adjust the quantities to meet your needs.
Step 2. Soak the superglue-stained plastic in it for 3 to 4 hours
- Immerse the superglue-stained plastic into the soap solution and let it soak for 3 to 4 hours.
- If the glue stain is not too stubborn, this treatment should be enough to remove it.
Step 3. Wipe off any remaining superglue with rubbing alcohol
- Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.
- Wipe off the remaining superglue with the cotton ball.
Method 2: Use Nail Polish Remover
The acetone content in generic nail polish removers can help get superglue off of a plastic surface, so be sure to use an acetone-based remover for this job.
You can also use pure acetone which is an industrial strength solvent effective on a wide range of inks, pigments and adhesives. However, be advised that it can eat through most plastic surfaces. Dried superglue is essentially plastic and that’s why acetone works so well.
Try nail polish remover first. If it doesn’t do the job well, go for pure acetone. But in both cases, do a spot test first to be sure it doesn’t accidentally ruin the plastic item.
Single-Step Treatment: Wipe the superglue off the plastic with nail polish remover
- Simply soak a cotton ball with an acetone-based nail polish remover.
- Rub it over the superglue stain.
- Use as many fresh soaked cotton balls as required to get all the superglue off the plastic.
Method 3: Use Vinegar
This multipurpose household cleaner can come in handy if superglue has attached itself to the finish of your craft work. Soaking it with vinegar can help soften the superglue. This technique works well to remove labels from bottles also.
You may need to scrape the softened glue off the plastic. The flat end of a dull knife like a butter knife can be used to do this without damaging the plastic surface or presenting a potential hazard.
Things you’ll need:
- White vinegar (softens the hardened superglue)
- Cotton balls
- Butter knife
Step 1. Soak cotton balls in vinegar
- Pour white vinegar into a bowl.
- Soak a cotton ball in it and squeeze out most of the dripping liquid.
- Repeat this process with several cotton balls.
Step 2. Cover the stubborn superglue with the vinegar cotton balls
- Cover the entire glue stain with vinegar-soaked cotton balls. Use as many cotton balls as required.
- Let it sit for a few hours to allow the vinegar to do its work.
- Remove the cotton balls.
Step 3. Scrape off the weakened superglue with a butter knife
- When the vinegar has weakened the glue, scrape it off with the flat end of a butter knife.
- Wipe off any remaining mess with a cotton ball, and you’re done.
Method 4: Use Vegetable Oil
Generally used as a cooking medium, vegetable oil is another way to get superglue off any plastic surface. The oil helps lubricate the plastic surface, allowing the superglue to detach from it.
This is a comparatively gentle method, as it doesn’t make use of any chemical that could potentially damage the plastic item. You can also use it to remove spray paint from your skin.
Step 1. Soak the superglue-stained plastic in oiled paper towel
- Put a little vegetable oil on a folded paper towel.
- Wrap or cover the superglue stain completely with the oiled paper towel.
- Let it sit for 1 to 2 hours.
Step 2. Wipe off the loosened superglue
- Once the oil has loosened the superglue, wipe it off with the paper towel.
- Use a fresh paper towel to remove any trace of the oil from the plastic surface.
- Always do a spot test in an inconspicuous area before using any chemical to remove superglue from plastic surfaces. This will prevent accidentally damaging the finish of the plastic item.
- Hand lotion, conditioner, mayonnaise and cooking oil can also be used instead of vegetable oil to soften up the superglue.
- Makeup remover wipes have solvents in them that can also help clean up traces of superglue. Rub at the superglue stain with the wipes in circular motions.