How Do I Remove Dried Hot Glue From Fabric?

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Hot glue in a glue gun is a versatile tool used by crafters of all types. But when this quick-drying glue ends up in unintended places -- such as fabric -- it becomes problematic. When that glue dries on the fabric, removal can seem impossible. While it’s no cakewalk, you can remove the dried hot glue with common household items.

Glue sticks are made from plastic that melts and reshapes when heated.
Glue sticks are made from plastic that melts and reshapes when heated. (Image: peterkai/iStock/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Butter knife
  • Iron
  • Brown paper bag
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Small container
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cloth
  • Acetone
  • Cotton balls

Step 1: In the Freezer

Place the fabric with the dried hot glue in the freezer. Let the fabric sit in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 2: Hard Surface

Remove the fabric from the freezer and place on a hard surface with the now-hardened and cold glue facing up.

Step 3: Remove the Glue

Remove the dried glue carefully from the fabric by scraping it or popping it off with a butter knife. Work the knife between the fabric and the glue to gently remove it.

Warning

  • Apply caution as you scrape the glue from the fabric to avoid ripping the material.

Iron Method

The iron method transfers the glue from the fabric to another source, such as a paper bag or cotton cloth. Either will work for this method.

Step 1: Preheat Iron

Preheat an iron on its medium-to-high setting or for the type of fabric. Do not use the steam setting. Place the fabric on a hard surface – such as an ironing board – with the dried glue facing up.

Step 2: Bag It

Cover the dried glue with a brown paper bag or a cotton cloth. Hold the iron directly on top of the paper bag, pressing for about 20 seconds. Lift the iron from the paper bag.

Step 3: Examine the Fabric

Lift the brown paper bag up carefully to examine your progress. If there is still dried hot glue on the fabric, reposition the paper bag so that a clean area covers the glue. Press the iron on top of the bag and hold for another 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat the process until the dried glue is gone.

Warning

  • Pay attention to the glue transfer. The iron heats up the glue to make it soft enough to transfer to the bag or cotton cloth. Don't overheat the glue so that it melts into the fabric. Adjust the iron to the setting for the fabric.

Rubbing Alcohol Method

Step 1: Set-up the Rubbing Alcohol

Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a container. Dip the head of a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol until it is damp.

Step 2: Rub the Dried Glue

Rub the dried glue with the dampened cotton swab. Continue rubbing until the alcohol breaks the bond between the glue and the fabric. If necessary, re-dampen the cotton swab with rubbing alcohol.

Step 3: Blot the Fabric

Blot the area with a cloth dampened with water once you have removed the dried hot glue. Launder the fabric as you normally would.

Acetone Method

Step 1: Lay Out the Fabric

Lay the fabric – glue side facing up – on a hard surface.

Step 2: Cotton Ball

Remove the cap from the acetone bottle. Hold the cotton ball on top of the bottle so that it covers the opening completely. Carefully turn the bottle upside down so that the acetone dampens the cotton ball.

Step 3

Dab the dried glue with the dampened cotton ball. Continue dabbing until you have removed the glue. Rinse the acetone off the fabric with cool water.

Tip

  • If necessary, use one or more removal methods in conjunction with another one until you have removed the dried glue from the fabric.

Warning

  • Acetone can damage nylon and other synthetic fabrics, so apply with caution.

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