How to Save Leftover Caulking

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If you've ever recaulked your bathtub or put new caulking around your doors and windows, you've probably ended up with some caulking left in the tube when the job was done. Now if that stuff only cost a couple of dollars, it wouldn't be a problem--but a tube of good silicone caulking can run almost $10--and my Scottish nature won't allow me to just throw away the better part of $10 if I don't have to. So, if you're like me and want to save that leftover caulking for another day--here are some ways to do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire Nuts (Marr connectors)
  • Golf Tees
  • Plastic Food Wrap
  • Electrician's Tape
  • Screw-in Hooks or Eyes
  • "Caulk Saver"
  • Pushing a golf tee into the end of the tube will help keep the caulking from drying out if you're only trying to save it for a few weeks. The seal isn't really airtight, so the caulking will dry out--but it works better than doing nothing.

  • Clean the end of the tube all around the outside, then wrap plastic food wrap around it tightly. Finish up by wrapping the whole thing with electrician's tape. This works fairly well, but it's messy and you end up with caulking all over a cloth or paper towel--and then it seems to get on your hands and clothes.

  • Screw a wire nut (sometimes called Marr connectors) onto the end of the tube. This one works well and it's easy to do. Wire nuts come in a range of sizes, so not matter how wide you've cut the opening of the caulking tube, you can find a wire nut that will seal the opening.

  • Use screw-in hooks or eyes. Just put some caulking on the screw part of the fastener, then screw it into the open end of the caulking tube. The caulking will dry solidly and airtight, but you can reopen the tube by unscrewing the fastener. As an added bonus, once the caulking has dried, you can even hang the tube of caulking up on a nail in your workshop.

  • Buy a commercial product called a "Caulk Saver." This tool consists of a thin threaded piece of plastic (about 3-inches long) that fits down the plastic tip of a tube of caulking. You can use this tip to first puncture the seal on the tube of caulking, and when the job is done, just screw the tool into the caulking tube, where it will make an airtight seal and keep the caulking from drying out. When you want to use your caulking, just unscrew the "Caulk Saver" and you're ready to go.

Tips & Warnings

  • These ideas are worth trying for any product that comes in a tube similar to caulking--for example, adhesives or drywall crack fillers.
  • If the caulking dries out or hardens in the neck of the tube, you may still be able to use the caulking in the tube--you just need to make a hole through the dried caulking. In my toolbox I have an old ice pick. It's made of strong thin steel about 6 inches long. It works great for making a hole in dry caulking. A 4-inch common nail would probably do the same job.
  • The "Caulk Saver" should be available at your home or hardware store. If not, it's certainly available online.
  • Once a tube of caulking has been opened, it's virtually impossible to store it for longer than a few months. Don't count on being able to use caulking that you've had in your workshop for a year or so.
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