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Easily Remove Dried Hot Glue (aka Hot Melt)

video Easily Remove Dried Hot Glue (aka Hot Melt)
In this video I will show you how to cleanly (and easily) remove hot glue (aka hotmelt) from nearly any surface. 

I literally stumbled on this while working with hot glue over 20 years ago at a previous job.  It ended up being a "major discovery" for how we conducted our "re-work" on defective parts. 

After a bit of research on the net I was surprised that even today I can't find anyone else that is aware of this solution.  I found that most people are using much more harsh chemicals.  That prompted me to create this quick Instructable and share the knowledge.

Long story short - use Isopropyl Alcohol

By John Mangan (siliconghost)
http://www.manganlabs.com

Please RATE my Instructable!  If you like this, check out my other Instructables by clicking my username (siliconghost) above.

Background music by 8bitpeoples
http://www.8bitpeoples.com/
Album: Claps and Leads
Song: Funktify
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justanalien22 months ago

OMG it works! I've had 25yrs. old barrettes with glue gobs that were like cement. Your technique took 1 minute. Thank YOU!

siliconghost (author)  justanalien22 months ago
No problem! Glad to have helped you out!
tiggerlick2 years ago
Okay, I bought an antique reproduction Victorian couch for a song because repairs had been attempted with hot glue and resulted in a fairly hideous mess. I'm pretty confident and fairly clever, so I went after it with paint thinner. No luck. I tried paint remover. Nope. Windex. Nix. I broke out the big stuff; Methyl Ethyl Ketone-negative. KleanStrip solvent, which will damn near dissolve human bone (I don't know this for a fact). Nah. I would have used a small thermonuclear device if the internet instructions had actually worked properly but someone somewhere has clearly altered them.
Then I found your video. In 15 minutes I'd picked enough hot glue off of the pink velvet to get the result I needed and continue the repair.
Thank you. Not only from me, but from all the inhabitants of my fair city who were saved from atomic incineration by your timely and instructive video.
siliconghost (author)  tiggerlick2 years ago
Thank you for the wonderful feedback! Glad I could help.
billfarr3 years ago
May you be Blessed by all and/or any Diety that watch over you.
And may you never become unable to hold onto a single blade of grass to keep from falling off the earth.
siliconghost (author)  billfarr3 years ago
Billfarr, now that bit of feedback just made my day. Thank you and glad you like the instructable!
kmpjayhawks4 years ago
We used the alcohol on the painted walls and brick to remove the hot glue, it worked great. It did remove a little paint which was fine because we are repainting. I work at a school and we had to remove alot of it. We were chipping away, we tried heating it and that made it worse. There were 5-6 of us working on it while racking are brains on an easier way. I googled it, found your tip. After that it just took 2 girls to finish up and got it done in the time it took 5 of us that worked on it all day. Wanted to say thanks!! Now we can go home and ice are sore arms from all the chipping we were doing before I found your tip
siliconghost (author)  kmpjayhawks4 years ago
That is great! Glad I could help!
zimitt2 months ago

You saved my hair!!!

I was fooling around with braiding, knotting ,dread knotting my hair. Because I have fairly smooth hair I was not getting the affect I was looking for. It kept coming undone. I'm sure you have already figured out my solution to this problem. Out comes the hot glue gun. It worked great but in the end I decided to take it out because it looked like someone had sneezed in my hair.

Oh Oh!! That stuff was in there for the long run. The only solution was to cut them out. Not ideal because it was only 1 inch from my scalp.

My search for a solution brought me here and I'm Happy Happy.

Worked like a charm. Amazing! Thank you.

amandamonkeys4 months ago
Will the rubbing alcohol also work to remove a mirror from a wall?
nathanzmama5 months ago

yeah, That's great and all, but what about fabric? I need to know how to remove hot glue from fabric. Alcohol just ain't gonna cut it.

siliconghost (author)  nathanzmama5 months ago
You are absolutely right. I recently tried to remove hot glue from sweatpants with only marginal success. In that case I used nail polish remover (with acetone) and I think it worked slightly better. There are several other methods for removing from fabric like using an iron with a wet cloth or a hair dryer, but I can't speak to how effective they are.

Good luck! Let me know if you find something that works well.
justwhisper5 months ago

I just finished a wall hanging to sell in my store. The last little round mirror piece I glued into place was, of course, the one that got the unintended hot glue smear. I was so afraid the project was ruined. I found your post in about one minute and had the glue off the mirrored piece in about 10 seconds. No worries. Thank you so much for your consideration of the rest of us messy hot gluers.

theDIYspot6 months ago

Thank you so much for this. I would have never guessed alcohol for removing hot glue.

becca.dejeu7 months ago

will this remove hot glue from antique christmas ornaments without breaking them

Yes it will remove hot glue from vintage ornaments. I just finished testing it out on a wreath I made in which some of the ornaments shattered or fell off. It worked wonderfully, however, please know that if the ornament is not silver or gold, some of the color might come off with it. The trick is to put it along the edges of the glue and avoid the surrounding areas as much as possible.

siliconghost (author)  becca.dejeu7 months ago
I've never tried it. Did they have hot glue back then? I'm guessing it may be a different type of glue.

Only one way to find out ;)
becca.dejeu7 months ago

will this remove hot glue from antique christmas ornaments without breaking them

edyshor1 year ago

Isopropyl Alcohol ? wow .. great tip thanks :)

ilansch1 year ago

As some one already said, YOU DESERVE ALL THE BLESSINGS IN THE WORLD!!!

Thanks to your instrutable, I just removed a very old piece of hot glue (older than this post) that I had put on the wall a few years a go, which at the moment wanted to be permanent and now changed my mind. I was so obsessively careful to make it stay forever that I even pre-heated the wall and the glue so it would never fall off the wall and now was going crazy not being able to remove it even after trying to heat it up. But with some patience and your alcohol method it's gone, and no paint came off in the process!

Bless you man!!!

siliconghost (author)  ilansch1 year ago
:) Thanks for the feedback! Glad it worked out for you!
ArchiTink1 year ago
I just tried to make a hot glue mold for a DIY project. Needless to say, it made a complete mess and I thought that my moulding object was ruined. I came across your video, followed your advise and the glue came off with just a little prying! THANK YOU!!! you are a GENIUS! :)
siliconghost (author)  ArchiTink1 year ago
Awesome! Thanks for the feedback!
jgderuvo1 year ago
Sadly, this didn't work for me. Not sure why.
siliconghost (author)  jgderuvo1 year ago
I'm guessing it wasn't hot glue you were trying to remove. Some regular glue looks just like it.
dennist12 years ago
Incredible! I would have never thought of trying it - wouldn't think alcohol would touch that stuff. Thank you!

Just to add to the info though; a couple things I discovered. It doesn't seam to actually dissolve the glue but rather somehow weakens the bond. So, if your trying to clean up a smeared mess from attempting to remove it with heat - its still gonna be a lot of work; though it can be done. This works really well if you still have a bit of a clump there - the glue just pops off the surface cleanly.

Thanks again to the poster; and to this website for making such information sharing possible!
Hoogieflip3 years ago
Thanks SO much for this! I only wish I'd read it before I spoiled my new bag by picking the spilt hot glue off it :-). I'm going to buy some of this for the cupboard.
siliconghost (author)  Hoogieflip3 years ago
No problem at all. Sorry you didn't read in time to save your bag :( Thanks for the feedback!
ldowns3 years ago
Amazing! Thank you for this. Just did it on fabric/ribbon and works as well with no impact to fabric.
buteomont5 years ago
Have you tried it with something more porous, like paper?
After watching this video, I tried this on paper. I repair books at the library, and many of the books that come to my desk were previously repaired by running hot glue down the spine and placing the pages on the glue. It doesn't hold very well, and when it fails and the book makes its way to me, I was pulling the old glue off with pliers and scrapers so I could re-apply the proper kind of adhesive.

I have put the rubbing alcohol on the inside of the cover spine area to remove the old hot glue, and I have used it on the ends of the pages that were submerged in the hot glue. I try to keep the alcohol from soaking very far into the pages, but it dries quickly and does note make the pages wrinkle, and I have been quite successful in quickly removing the old hot glue from the books.

Thanks so much for this video. It really has made my repair jobs much faster!
siliconghost (author)  MaryBens4 years ago
Mary, thanks for the great feedback. Glad this has been helpful for you!
siliconghost (author)  buteomont5 years ago
I haven't tried paper, but that wood board was also pretty porous.  You would probably damage the paper with the alcohol, but it would be worth a shot if you really needed to do it. 

- John
i want to remove a speaker from my budokan headphones,to make a jackhammer ones but their stuck with hot melts,can i use this solution?
what is isopropyl?is it just normal alcohol 70 %?
siliconghost (author)  mastermakoko4 years ago
Yes, this should work for that. Just be careful not to get the speaker cones wet with the alcohol.

Isopropyl alcohol is also known as "rubbing alcohol". I believe it is more like 88% alcohol.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isopropyl_alcohol


On a somewhat related note, you may want to check in to these as well:
http://www.metacafe.com/static/perstitial/0/

I made these for mowing my lawn and they work quite well. Allows me to hear the music without having the volume up extremely loud. Not sure if they would be strong enough for jack hammering though. For the cheap price, it's almost worth a try.

You can buy the Earmuffs from Amazon.com here: http://astore.amazon.com/johspro-20/detail/B001BL04PS
Interesting idea, I will have to try this.

One problem i have with your demo is that you're using a lot of metal, metal takes the energy out of the glue faster than it can adhere usually, at least thats how it seems when I do it. If you did a test without metal, that would be nice.

The biggest thing I want to know is does the alcohol dissolve the glue or just help it come off?
siliconghost (author)  The Ideanator4 years ago
It works just as well on non-metal surfaces. I just used what I had handy at the time.

The alcohol doesn't appear to dissolve the glue, but it does appear to remove it's bonding properties and it drys the hot glue out (making it very brittle).

It's funny you posted this question when you did because I was just talking with a friend about posting the chemical equation that clearly explains WHY this works.

My chemistry is rusty so that may take some time.
I tried it on a circuit board encased in a hunk of the glue, it does have some effect, I'm not sure its the adhesive properties or if it is just really slow at dissolving it.

Either way I'm just going to soak that board in some alcohol for a few days to see what happens.
siliconghost (author)  The Ideanator4 years ago
Actually, the first time I discovered this (about 25 years ago) was on small circuit boards. The hot glue was used as a strain relief for several wires attached to the board. Isopropyl alcohol worked great to loosen the hot glue when we had to rework the boards. In that case it was in between about 25 small wires and didn't work quite as gracefully as shown in my video, but it did work quite well with a little patience picking it away. Sometimes it also requires more than one application of alcohol.
Chromatica5 years ago
 Weird that this works. Would this work on get the excess hot glue on the tip of the glue gun.
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