Introduction: 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)

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

Background music by 8bitpeoples
Album: Claps and Leads
Song: Funktify


tiggerlick (author)2013-01-10

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.

southbaysteve (author)tiggerlick2016-01-19

WAY too funny! ROFLMAO! Love your commentary.

And, ya, the Isopropol Alcohol worked for me too. (Yay!)

Thanks for the superb time saving tip. Much less invasive than what I thought...(I was going to use a dremel to make the parts free...electronic stuff, so, I needed a better solution).

siliconghost (author)tiggerlick2013-01-14

Thank you for the wonderful feedback! Glad I could help.

justanalien2 (author)2015-04-16

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

No problem! Glad to have helped you out!

billfarr (author)2011-10-22

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)billfarr2011-10-22

Billfarr, now that bit of feedback just made my day. Thank you and glad you like the instructable!

kmpjayhawks (author)2011-05-05

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)kmpjayhawks2011-05-05

That is great! Glad I could help!

PaulW369 (author)2017-11-19

Can't believe I spent so much time on the "net" looking for my answer. This worked perfectly for removing old unwanted glass break contacts from the windows in my home. Thanks

GinnieW (author)2016-02-25

Would you happen to know how the alcohol might affect aluminum? I want to remove what looks to be hot glue from an aluminum surface in a shadow box.

OriginalPugsly (author)GinnieW2016-10-11

I work with anodised aluminium and it doesn't effect it in the least.

cheapo (author)2016-07-16

Excellent tip thanx!!

I had already scraped a lot of the hot glue of this piece of fishing rod. Then I looked for something to help with what was left. I was able, eventually, to remove all of it using your tip.


mbluetyphoon made it! (author)2016-07-09

John, thank you so much for the great advice!

I'd bought this Harley Quinn cap n' bells headband for a costume with the hope that, as it was described, the so called "bells" could be adjusted in whatever way I wanted to wear them on the headband they were attached to.

Well, the description lied! Not only were the bells wired to the headband, hot glue gun glue was used to attach the bells where they could not be moved!

Following your advice, I separated the bells from the headband (yay!). I will clean off the remaining glue reside, construct loops at the bottom of the bells, slide the bells back on to the headband and adjust them the way I want to wear them (like it was advertised).

John, thank you again so much!

rallekralle (author)2016-06-23

wow, it actually works! but i used my last drop of isopropanol, and i don't have any money atm...

who cares, it works!

JanetteW2 (author)2016-02-29

God bless ya! It worked like a charm. Had a big blob on my sewing table. It came right up. Thanks so much!

Tom099 (author)2016-02-19

Thanks this will help when I make my halo armour out of EVA foam. Just in case glue goes everywhere. Thanks

siliconghost (author)Tom0992016-02-19

No problem at all!

Yl'luriaW (author)2015-12-21

Hiya! Is there a place where the instructions are either written out, or a version of the video where you have a voiceover detailing what you do. ? I'm visually impaired, and while the music is super cute, I have NO idea what's going on in this video. It looks like you're assembling a robot or toy or something, and despite studying the video closely, I have no idea how any glue is being cleaned up here- it just looks like you're kinda making something. Written instructions or a voiceover would rock, for those of us who can't catch the captions in this vid, or make out what's goin'on. Thanks so much! <3

hanelyp (author)Yl'luriaW2016-01-25

Very briefly, he applies isopropyl alcohol around the edges of the hot melt glue to soften it's grip.

david.ratcliff.5 (author)2016-01-15

Hi, great information thanks... I need to get hot glue off of ping pong balls and was wondering if it will melt them with the glue?... Balls are made from celluloid film. Thanks in advance if you can help.

steve.fisher.5648 (author)2015-12-06

Awesome tip! Thanks!

NaveenC1 (author)2015-10-26

Would this also help remove glue from the surface of a polished wooden laminate (like those on a furniture), without actually destroying the laminate shine?
I basically need to remove a small part of plywood glued over the laminate (shiny) surface.

Maria101eosj2 made it! (author)2015-10-24

Please give a comment body

Nice nail color

DanielB111 (author)2015-09-05

send your article at the perfect time. I had a broken fiberglass handle on a shovelshovel, and I was able to run a piece of rebar the length of the handle but I needed to fill it with something that would solidify and glue it. I was given a box of low temp hot melt glue, but I had no way of keeping liquid long enough to pour in handle to fill it. So I boiled it in alcohol, and it was able to form a big gooy molten ball in the alcohol, and kept it liquefied long enough to pour it.. I'm letting the alcohol totally evaporate now, and hopefully have a permanent fix.. thanks for the info

KimS20 (author)2015-07-23

zimitt (author)2015-04-22

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.

amandamonkeys (author)2015-02-03

Will the rubbing alcohol also work to remove a mirror from a wall?

nathanzmama (author)2015-01-30

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)nathanzmama2015-01-30

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.

justwhisper (author)2015-01-19

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.

theDIYspot (author)2014-12-09

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

becca.dejeu (author)2014-11-21

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

theDIYspot (author)becca.dejeu2014-12-09

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.dejeu2014-11-21

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.dejeu (author)2014-11-21

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

edyshor (author)2014-03-30

Isopropyl Alcohol ? wow .. great tip thanks :)

ilansch (author)2014-03-24


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)ilansch2014-03-24

:) Thanks for the feedback! Glad it worked out for you!

ArchiTink (author)2013-10-30

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)ArchiTink2013-10-31

Awesome! Thanks for the feedback!

jgderuvo (author)2013-10-30

Sadly, this didn't work for me. Not sure why.

siliconghost (author)jgderuvo2013-10-31

I'm guessing it wasn't hot glue you were trying to remove. Some regular glue looks just like it.

dennist1 (author)2013-04-20

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!

Hoogieflip (author)2012-05-05

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)Hoogieflip2012-05-05

No problem at all. Sorry you didn't read in time to save your bag :( Thanks for the feedback!

ldowns (author)2011-12-03

Amazing! Thank you for this. Just did it on fabric/ribbon and works as well with no impact to fabric.

buteomont (author)2010-03-16

Have you tried it with something more porous, like paper?

MaryBens (author)buteomont2010-12-25

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!

About This Instructable




Bio: I love combining software, electrical, and mechanical engineering to come up with unique and fun projects. I'm not a chef, but love to cook ... More »
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