How to Remove Waterproof Caulking

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Replace old caulk to remove stains and keep seals waterproof.
Replace old caulk to remove stains and keep seals waterproof. (Image: IT Stock/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Waterproof caulking prevents water damage and leakage around showers, bathtubs, sinks and windows. It also saves money on energy bills by keeping drafts from entering the home through gaps around piping and windows. Waterproof caulk can peel, crack, turn yellow or become mildewy with age and may need to be replaced. The first step to reapplying caulk is to remove the old caulk. Caulk removal is a pretty simple process that requires very few supplies and not much time.

Things You'll Need

  • Scraping tool (putty knife, utility knife, caulk removal tool or scraper)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Caulk removal solution (optional)
  • Water
  • Rag
  • Rubbing alcohol or disinfecting solvent

Scrape the caulk off of the surface with a scraping tool such as a putty knife, utility knife or scraper. Home improvement stores also sell special caulk removal tools designed to scrape caulk out of corners.

Apply a caulk removal solvent if the caulk does not scrape off easily with the tools. Caulk often comes off almost entirely with scraping tools, but specially designed chemicals help remove stubborn caulk with less physical effort. Rinse off any solvent residue.

Wipe down the surface with rubbing alcohol or another disinfecting solvent to remove any remaining traces of caulk. The disinfectant also helps kill any mold spores to keep mold from growing beneath the new caulk.

Rinse off the rubbing alcohol or other disinfectant.

Tips & Warnings

  • Allow the surface to dry completely before applying any new caulk.
  • Some solvents and cleaning solutions cause skin damage upon contact. Wear gloves to avoid touching any chemicals that have safety warnings.

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