How to Remove Super Glue from Plastic and Vinyl

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Susan asked: How do you remove super glue from a car’s interior? The surfaces are hard plastic and vinyl. Super glue was used to put decorative trim on the interior side panels of the car door and around the air conditioning vents of the car. We were able to get some off, but some is left. The interior is black.

Removing super glue from plastic surfaces can be a bit tricky because dried super glue is plastic, thus the removers are designed to eat through plastic. Unfortunately, if the surface is plastic, it can be damaged as well by these removers. There are other ways to loosen super glue, but they take time. However, it is often worth it to keep from causing more damage. Here’s what you need to do.

Removing Super Glue from Plastic Surfaces

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Soap
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper towels
  • Soft cloths
  • Bowl or bucket

Steps to Remove the Glue:

  1. Begin by mixing water and soap in a bowl or bucket.
  2. Moisten a soft cloth or paper towels with the water and soap.
  3. Lay the wet cloth over the glue and allow it to set for several hours. The idea is to keep the glue very moist for a good amount of time. If it is drying up before the glue has a chance to soften, place the wet cloth on the glue and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Tape around the edges to seal it.
  4. After at least 3-4 hours of soaking, remove the plastic covering and wet, soapy cloth.
  5. Blot at the softened glue with a clean cloth to remove the glue that has softened.
  6. Repeat until all of the glue is removed.
  7. This method can take a while to work, but it will remove the glue without damaging the plastic surface.
  8. A second method is to use rubbing alcohol.
  9. Moisten a cotton ball and gently blot at the glue that you want to remove.
  10. When the glue softens, use a clean cloth to blot it away.
  11. When all of the glue is removed, wipe the area clean with a cloth moistened with clean water.
  12. Dry completely.

Removing Super Glue from Vinyl Surfaces

You Will Need:

  • Acetone
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton balls
  • Soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Glue:

  1. Begin by moistening a cotton ball or paper towel with acetone. Blot the glue with the paper acetone piece until it starts to soften.
  2. When the glue softens, blot it with a clean cloth to remove.
  3. Continue until all of the glue is removed.
  4. Wipe down the area with clean water and a clean cloth to remove any remaining acetone.
  5. Dry completely.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Acetone can affect the finishes and coloring of some surfaces. Always test a small, hidden area first to ensure there are no adverse effects.
  • If the surface is not of concern, fine grit sand paper can be used to sand away the glue. Sand it away with small, circular motions.
  • Remove the acetone promptly to avoid any damage to the surface.
  • It is best to blot at the glue when trying to remove it. Wiping softened glue will spread it out leaving a larger area to be cleaned.
  • Be careful when using rubbing alcohol or acetone on any plastic pieces with print. They can remove the print easily from the surface.
  • Though it is not recommended, some have had success using acetone on plastic items as well. The key appears to be removing it promptly so it does not have enough time to affect the plastic. Again, this is not recommended, but as a last resort, it may be worth a try.
  • Commercial super glue removers are available at most hardware and home improvement stores.

Comments

  1. Cameron says:

    From a medical journal I just read online, kerosene and margarine are also used to soften superglue. I’m not sure how kerosene interacts with plastics, but beings that it is a petroleum distillate, I would stay clear.

    Margarine, on the other hand should be safe, but may take longer to work.

    Also note: just because I read about kerosene in a medical journal does NOT mean you should ingest kerosene. It WILL probably kill you! I was simply referring to it being a solvent for superglue. Margarine, on the other hand…ingest it all you want.

  2. Jeanne says:

    OH boy, I tried to glue the trim back on with Gorilla Glue instead of my usual Elmer’s. The stuff got spread around and smudged on the control panel and made it look like crap. A quick dab of non-acetone nail polished did nothing except maybe to promise to ruin the plastic finish (and Goo Gone did little as well)… so after reading on HowToCleanStuff and eHow, I used this method for complete removal. Use Turkish towels to wipe with rubbing alcohol and then generously apply straight baby oil. Let go for awhile, like overnight. Repeat the process until the stuff if dissolved.

  3. Ella says:

    I got super glue on my marble countertop. It sounds strange, but I used peanut butter (no jelly!) and rubbed it on spots. You can also use this to remove gum from leather.

  4. Dennis says:

    I tried Goof Off to take super glue off of a shower wall and it did not work. Then, I remembered having seen some super glue remover in some of my stuff. It worked good, even as old as it was! I need to find out how to buy more of it.

  5. Sipho says:

    I need a company that can remove vinyl glue on walls urgently. Please send me contact details

  6. Joe says:

    I have been given the task of getting glue off of a hardsided hand bag. The bag is covered with strips of plastic that were glued to what looks like thin wall board. But now, the plastic is becoming unglued and curling up off its backing. I have been able to chip some glue off of the plastic, but if I keep this up, I will end up with a million pieces. The glue is clear and breaks like glass. What kind of glue it is–I don’t know. Any ideas? Anyone?
    I have tried boiling it in water, nail polish, Goop, paint stripper, Go-goop, and alcohol.
    My goal is to remove all the plastic, clean it all up and glue it all back down on to the hand bag and have it all look like new.
    Any ideas of the type of glue to use to put it all back together?
    Thanks to whomever can help me out.

  7. Len says:

    My eyeglasses frame broke and I had to make a plan to repair them. Used super glue, bit got some on the lenses. Read on this webpage to use acetone; it worked thanks to this webpage. Thank you.

  8. Jamie says:

    Glue got on my microwave door; it’s stainless steel and I need to know how to remove it from my microwave ASAP! Please help me! I love my microwave.

  9. Melanie says:

    Jamie,
    According to the article How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances, acetone can be used on stainless steel, and according to the article How to Clean Stainless Steel, rubbing alcohol is also safe to use. Just use a poultice as mentioned in the “Plastic Surfaces” section above – soak a cloth with the soapy water (or acetone or rubbing alcohol if you prefer) and use plastic wrap to hold the cloth against the microwave door until the glue softens.

  10. Phlibby says:

    These did not work for me at all. By the time I was done trying this, I had ruined a very important part. I was trying to undue a part that was glued to an electronics circuit board. I am so frustrated right now I could just scream. Don’t try this on anything important! Make sure you read all the material you can find before starting. Soapy water definitely does not work. I just ruined a $200.00 part.

  11. Hassan says:

    There is some super glue on the dashboard of my car. Some sticker was pasted there with super glue. I don’t know to to clean that part. Can someone suggest some good solution for it? There are some spots of super glue. If someone knows then please let me know. Thanks.

  12. Sharon says:

    How do I remove super glue from Formica countertops? It’s just a small spot and acetone doesn’t work.

  13. Melanie says:

    Sharon,
    Try using the soap and water poultice as described in the section Removing Super Glue from Plastic above. If that doesn’t work, try using rubbing alcohol.

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