How to Remove Glue from Clothing

How to Remove Glue from Clothing

Stickability. The very thing that makes glue so useful can also make it a disaster when it comes anywhere near clothing.

But don’t worry. There’s a solution for just about every type of gluemare.

So, whatever fix you’re in, just adhere to these rules and you’ll soon banish those glue blues.


Where Do I Start with Removing Glue Stains?

First of all, don’t panic.

There’s a received wisdom that successful crisis resolution depends on swift and decisive action. With glue mishaps, not so much.

In fact, your ability to stay calm in a crisis will be tested by the need to do very little for a while.

Why is this? Because when you want to get adhesive off clothes, you need to start by doing just two things.

  1. Find out what glue you’re looking at. This might be tricky if you’re involved in a job using more than one type of glue and you didn’t see the accident taking place.  So, use your senses and compare the stain to all the glues you’re using. Smell’s often the biggest giveaway.
  2. Wait for the glue to dry. Yep, just wait. With glue, it’s pretty much done its worst the moment it hits your clothes. You’re only going to exacerbate matters by chasing it around the fabric. This will just spread the stain. So, do nothing until the stain’s hardened. Then you can go to work.

Let’s look at what to do to remove some common glue varieties, before considering some surprising glue-bashers you might find in your pantry.


Removing Water-Based Glue from Clothes

Removing Water-Based Glue from Clothes

This is usually the white stuff schools use, for example PVA. The good news is that it comes out easily, although if you’ve got a delicate garment you might want to consider dry cleaning.

What you need:

  • A stiff brush
  • Cold water
  • Clean cloth
  • Liquid laundry detergent

Steps to follow:

  1. Wait until it goes clear. You can use ice to speed up the drying.
  2. Use the brush to remove the glue. Be careful not to damage the fabric. You can use the end of a spoon instead if you’d rather.
  3. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all off. The aim of the game is to get rid of all the extraneous layers of glue, leaving just the stuff that’s actually stuck to the fabric.
  4. Soak it in cold water. Leave overnight. Go have a good evening.
  5. The next morning, treat the glue to a little laundry detergent, rubbing it right in to the area before slinging the garment in a cold wash.

If you’re stuck with a stain, it’s worth trying to repeat the process from the brush action onwards. You can also try ironing the inside of the garment.

Note, if you’re faced with water-based glitter glue, you’ve got dye to deal with, so you’ll need that overnight soaking liquid to include some oxygen-based bleach.

Chemistry boffins will be itching to tell you that the chemical name for this is sodium percarbonate. What you really need to know is that it’s much better for the planet than its chlorinated cousin, and it’s more delicate so suitable for this particular use.

Oxygen bleach brands include Ecover Laundry Bleach and Bio D Laundry Bleach.


How to Remove Superglue from Clothes

Superglue’s not just super-sticky. It’s also super-awkward because it’s not water-based, which makes it super-tricky to get out of clothes.

Don’t worry though, there are ways to deal with the superglue menace.

Note: This same technique will work for nail glue. 

What you need:

  • Acetone – You can use an acetone-based nail polish remover instead, but be sure to test it on an inconspicuous part of the garment first, like a tiny portion of the inner seam. Be sure not to use on certain synthetics, such as acetate, as it eats those fibres for breakfast and you’ll be left with a garment that’s more revealing than you remember the last time you put it on.
  • Toothbrush
  • Sandpaper (fine grade) or nailfile
  • Clean cloth
  • Liquid laundry detergent

Steps to follow:

  1. Let it dry. Read a book.
  2. Get some acetone onto a cloth, and work it into the garment, tackling the glue patch from the outside in, and on both sides.
  3. You can then grab the toothbrush and scrub at the glue, again, being careful not to damage the clothing.
  4. You should be able to loosen some of the glue. For the remainder, gently use the sandpaper. This should remove the residue, but be careful you don’t damage the fibres.
  5. Cool wash.
  6. If the stain remains, wash again. If still there, it’s time for the dry cleaners to get a call.


Removing Hot Glue from Clothes Using Acetone

Removing Hot Glue from Clothes Using Acetone

Hot glue resin is the kind of thing clothes have nightmares about. It’s dribbly, gets everywhere and is a devil to get out. But we can do this.

What you need:

  • Freezer
  • Acetone
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Clean cloth

Steps to follow:

  1. Stick garment in the freezer. Leave in for eight hours or so. You could paint a room. Try not to get any paint on your clothes though. Or leave it in there overnight while you dream about clean, crisp clothing.
  2. When you get it out in the morning, the glue will have hardened and become brittle. You should be able to pick it off with your finger-nail, or use a blunt knife. Or a credit card edge.
  3. Any residue can be banished with an acetone dab. Get it on there with a cotton swap and keep at it until all that resinous ruin’s rubbed off.
  4. Put in a cool wash.


Removing Hot Glue from Clothes Without Acetone

Here’s another way to get rid of hot glue.

What you need:

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Cotton cloth
  • Brown paper

Steps to follow:

  1. Lay your cloth on the ironing board
  2. Lay the garment, gluey face down, on the cotton cloth
  3. Place the paper over the garment, and iron with hottest setting suitable for the garment, and keep at it over the stained area for 10-20 seconds. Don’t use the steamer though.
  4. Remove the iron and peel the clothing away from the cloth. Move the cloth so you have a clean section, and repeat the process until all the glue’s been relocated from the garment to the cloth.


Removing Rubber-Based Glue from Clothes

Removing Rubber-Based Glue from Clothes

Often used in crafting, rubber-based glue is a mega-strong latex-based adhesive. Brands in the UK include Copydex and Marabu Fixogum. Cow gum is an udder name for it in the UK.

What you need:

  • Blunt knife
  • Laundry detergent

Steps to follow:

  1. Wait for it to dry.
  2. Rub in some detergent.
  3. Then wash, but this time, give it some heat. Use the hottest cycle recommended for that fabric.


Removing Glue Using Household Items


Vinegar’s a wonder substance that, aside from being every chip’s must-have attire, is incredible at a whole range of household tasks. Try cleaning your windows with it, for instance.

Its potency against glue (both water-based and superglue) is pretty solid, courtesy of the acetic acid that lurks within it.

Always use white vinegar, obviously. Red wine vinegar’s really not a good bet. Mix equal amounts with water and dab away at that patch. Then give it a cool wash.



Removing Glue from Clothes Using WD-40

Thought this stuff was just about squeaky hinges? Think again. Use a tiny amount on the stain, leave for a couple of minutes then squeeze a little washing-up liquid on there. Then rinse with cold water.

Keep repeating until the stain’s gone. Then a cool wash. Note: don’t use WD-40 on delicates, like silk or cashmere. Its chemical constituents may attack the fibres. And your clothes will be so lubricated they’ll keep falling right off you.



The citric acid in lemons is another wonder-product from Nature’s miracles box. For serious stain-away power, turn to lemon essential oil, and simply work some of it into the stain with a clean cloth. That glue won’t stand a chance.


Using baking powder to remove glue

Some recommend that you use a mixture of baking powder and coconut oil and work it into the stain with a soft brush. Get rid of the residue with a clean, damp cloth. Laundry detergent then cool wash.

If you’re one of those freaky households that somehow manages to get through most weeks without having laid in a ready supply of coconut oil, then try this instead.

Sprinkle some baking powder on the stain and then dab a brush in some white vinegar. Go at the stain with that brush, then follow the ensuing steps above.


Coming Unstuck. In a Good Way

As you can see, most of the glue removal game boils down to knowing what sort of glue you’re dealing with, then calmly going about the right steps.

The great thing about getting glue off fabric is that there’s no rush. You have all the time in the world to go out and get yourself some oxygen bleach or a nailfile or whatever it is you need for the job. You could even get some coconut oil.