How to Remove Super Glue From Around the Home

Super glue squeeze bottle open with super glue on wooden surface closeup

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

Super glue is a miracle product when you need to reassemble a shattered porcelain statute, fix a broken corner on a coaster, or reattach the sole of a shoe. Super or "crazy glue" is cyanoacrylate, an acrylic resin that forms a strong bond between two surfaces when the molecules in the resin react with moisture to form tight chains. The reaction generates heat so that the bond occurs almost instantly.

While a quick bond is great, it also means that the glue sometimes ends up on surfaces like skin and fabric where it is not wanted. Fortunately, there are several products you probably have around the house that can break the bond of super glue from different surfaces.

Before You Begin

It is best to let super glue dry first before you attempt to clean it from any surface. If you try to wipe it away while it is wet, it will smear or work itself deeper into fabrics. After using any of the glue-removal methods below, be sure to wipe down the item with a clean, damp cloth and wash your hands well.

For any of the methods listed for removing super glue from hard surfaces, fabrics, or carpets, always test the process on an inconspicuous area to make sure the cleaning product does not cause additional damage.

  • 01 of 10

    Nail Polish Remover or Acetone

    Purple nail polish remover next to stack of cotton rounds with cotton round used on hand

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin, Fabrics, Wood, Metal, Plastic

    Acetone is considered the go-to remover to break the bonds formed by super glue. Almost all nail polish removers contain acetone. For the best results, chose a brand that is mainly acetone without added conditioners. The downside is that acetone can also damage some surfaces like varnished wood and certain fabrics.

    To remove the glue, saturate a cotton ball or pad with acetone. Test the solution on an inconspicuous spot to make sure that it does not damage the surface of the item. Dab the acetone on the super glue. Allow it to work for a few minutes. Wipe away with a microfiber cloth and rinse with a cloth dipped in plain water to remove excess acetone. Repeat as needed until the glue is removed.

    Fabrics made from acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic fibers can dissolve in nail polish remover (acetone) and paint thinner. Even if the clothes are only an acetate blend, a hole will appear and cannot be repaired. Consult a professional dry cleaner for removing stains from any of these fabrics. 

  • 02 of 10

    Mineral Spirits

    White container of mineral spirit next to gray shirt with super glue soaked up with cotton round

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin, Fabric, Hard Surfaces

    Mineral spirits, also known as white spirits, is a petroleum-based solvent often used to thin paint and clean paintbrushes. Less toxic than turpentine and paint thinner, use it as you would acetone to break the glue bonds on skin, fabric, and hard surfaces.

  • 03 of 10

    Distilled White Vinegar

    Distilled white vinegar glass bottle next to glass bowl with cotton balls being soaked

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin, Fabrics, Wood, Metal, Plastic

    While not as effective as acetone, the acidic nature of distilled white vinegar will also break the bonds of super glue. Dab the area with a cotton ball saturated with vinegar. Let it work for a few minutes and then rinse. Use your fingernail or the edge of a credit card as a gentle scraper to help loosen the glue.

  • 04 of 10

    Vegetable Oil

    Vegetable oil in tall glass containers on wooden surface

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin, Hard Surfaces

    Any type of vegetable oil—corn, olive, coconut—even peanut butter, can help loosen super glue from skin and hard surfaces like plastic, countertops, and laminate floors. Spread it on and use a plastic scraper to loosen the glue spill. Work slowly and patiently and repeat the steps until the glue is removed.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Lemon Juice

    Slice of lemon next to glass container of lemon juice and wooden toothbrush rubbing super glue

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin, Wood, Metal, Plastic, Stone

    A more natural substitute for acetone is lemon juice. The acid will help cut through the glue bonds. Dip an old toothbrush in freshly squeezed lemon juice and scrub the area affected with glue. The glue should begin to flake and can be safely scraped away with a fingernail or plastic edge.

  • 06 of 10

    Warm Soapy Water

    Hands covered in warm soapy water in sink and below faucet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin, Plastics

    Promptly washing your hands in warm soapy water after a gluing accident may be all you need to do remove the glue. Using a bit of hand lotion after washing will also help break the glue bonds.

    For removing glue on plastic, mix one cup of very warm water and one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent. Dip a paper towel in the solution and wring until it is just damp. Place the towel over the glue stain and cover it with some plastic wrap to prevent the towel from drying out. Wait about four hours and the moisture and detergent will soften the glue. Finish by gently scrubbing with a microfiber cloth and rinse the glue away.

  • 07 of 10

    Emery Board

    Black emery boards rubbing against fingers

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Skin and Hard Surfaces

    An emery board offers gentle abrasion to buff away super glue from skin, nails, and hard surfaces like metal and wood. Use a light touch to prevent damage to skin and the original surfaces.

  • 08 of 10

    Sandpaper

    Red sandpaper rubbing wooden surface with super glue by hand

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Hard Surfaces

    Once super glue has hardened, it can be removed from hard surfaces like wood, plastic, stone, and metal by using sandpaper. Unfortunately, the sandpaper can also scratch the original surface. Protect clean areas with painter's tape and use a fine grit paper and a gentle touch as you near the original surface.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Paint Scraper

    Paint scraper peeling off super glue from wooden surface

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Hard Surfaces

    If none of the solutions seem to be softening the glue, it's time to get more aggressive. A metal or plastic paint scraper can remove the glue from hard surfaces. The downside is that the scraper may damage the surface you're trying to save. Use patience and a gentle touch as you work on the glue.

  • 10 of 10

    Safety Razor Scraper

    Safety razor scraper peeling off super glue from picture frame

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Use for: Glass, Stone, Metal

    A safety razor scraper works particularly well on glass items. Be sure to hold the blade flat against the surface to loosen the edge of the glue. Work slowly so that you don't gouge or scratch the surface of metal items and countertops.