What Is the Easiest Way to Remove Caulking?


Caulk is used extensively in homes, but few homeowners tend to notice it on a daily basis. Usually it is not until a line of caulk becomes cracked, starts to peel, or becomes covered in unsightly mold or mildew that caulk attracts attention. The first response is often to scrub it vigorously. If the caulk has begun to disintegrate, this is counterproductive. If mildew has discolored the caulk, even the most conscientious housecleaning will be ineffective. The best remedy in these cases is to remove the offending caulk and start anew.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Sponge
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Clean cloths
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Water
  • Grasp the utility knife and press the blade down between the rear of a line of caulk and the tile or fixture along which it was originally placed.

  • Slice down through the line of caulk, concentrating on severing it from the joint it covers. This is best done with a long cutting motion of several inches, followed by small sweeping motions that pull the separated portion of caulk away. Continue in this fashion until the old caulk has been removed.

  • Rub denatured alcohol into the area from where the caulk was detached. Allow the alcohol to dry completely.

  • Apply a dilution of 1/3 cup chlorine bleach to a gallon of plain water to the area. This will kill any mold or mildew that grew in the area and darkened the old caulk. Let the bleach dry naturally.

  • Reapply the new caulk according to the manufacturer's directions.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the old caulk that you are attempting to remove is stubborn or made up of multiple old layers, use a commercial caulk remover. These products chemically weaken the old caulk to allow for easier removal.
  • If you do not have a utility knife, a single razor blade will work, but take care to avoid injury.
  • After removing the old caulk, it is best to clean the area with a cleaner that dilutes soapy residues without the use of ammonia. This is why denatured alcohol is recommended. If you use ammonia-based cleaning products, avoid using chlorine bleach as a mold and mildew treatment. The two chemicals will release toxic fumes that can be fatal. Choose another mildew-fighting agent with a different active ingredient.

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  • Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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