How to Remove 8 Glue and Adhesives Stains From Clothes and Carpets

Man working with glue on birdhouse
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Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 70 mins

Every household makes regular use of glues and adhesives to bond materials together or to fix broken items. There are many types of glues and adhesives from simple school white glue to rubber cement. Some adhesives, like commercial adhesives, nail glue, and sticker residue, are tougher to remove than others because of the composition of the adhesives. Take a look at eight different adhesives and what it takes to remove them from clothing and carpet. 

Most of the time, glues and adhesives can be removed from washable clothes and carpet. But if any type of glue lands on clothes labeled as "dry clean only," head to a professional dry cleaner and point out the stain to get the best results.

In most cases for all these adhesives and cleaning methods, if the stain persists, repeat the method. Once the stain is gone, wash the garment as you normally would. Make sure you do not place the garment in the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

illustration of how to remove glue stains
Melissa Ling/The Spruce

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife or plastic scraper

Materials

  • Freezer or bag of ice
  • Solvent or stain remover
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent

Steps to Make It

Commercial adhesives, sometimes called construction adhesives, can be very difficult to remove from clothes or material. If you are messy or accident-prone, buy an adhesive remover or solvent at the same time you purchase the adhesive.

Stain Type: Chemical-based stain
Detergent Type: Stain remover and heavy-duty detergent
Water Temperature: Wash according to fabric label

Warning

Always test any solvents or stain remover on a hidden area of the clothing or carpet before using. It's best to check the item is colorfast before using it.

How to Remove Commercial Adhesives

  1. Let Adhesive Dry

    Allow the adhesive to dry on the fabric or carpet before attempting to remove it. Do not try to wipe it off. Wiping wet adhesive will only drive the adhesive deeper into the fibers.

  2. Remove Any Excess Glue

    Use the edge of a dull knife or plastic scraper to lift away any excessive globs of glue, then let the area dry.

  3. Freeze the Affected Area

    Place the fabric in the freezer for an hour. Once the glue is frozen solid, you can usually break most of it off the fabric.

  4. Treat With Stain Remover

    If a stain remains, spot treat the area with a solvent or stain remover.

Tip

If you need to remove commercial adhesives from carpet, try freezing the adhesive with some ice cubes in a plastic bag. Once frozen, try to break away the adhesive. Then use the recommended adhesive solvent following the directions. If a stain remains, spot treat the area with a solvent or stain remover.

Fingernail Glue

Artificial nail glue is essentially the same chemical formula as super glue. The main ingredient is cyanoacrylate, an acrylic resin that cures almost instantly. When spills happen on fabrics and carpet, do not panic and do not wipe at the glue—you will only spread it around. Allow the glue to dry before attempting to remove it.

Warning

Certain fabrics cannot stand up to nail polish remover. Acetate, triacetate, and modacrylic fabrics dissolve in fingernail polish remover, acetone, or paint thinner. Read the fiber content labels first. If you use nail polish remover on these materials, it can cause holes that cannot be fixed. To remove nail glue from these fibers, consult a professional dry cleaner.

Stain Type: Chemical-based
Detergent Type: Heavy-duty laundry detergent or liquid dishwashing detergent
Water Temperature: Wash according to fabric label

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Dull kitchen knife

How to Remove Nail Glue From Fabric

  1. Dip a cotton swab in acetone-based nail polish remover (the more gentle ethyl acetate removers will not work). Test it on a small, inner seam to make sure the nail polish remover does not damage or discolor the fabric or carpet.

  2. Working from the outside of the stain to the inside, dab the hardened glue with the swab, letting the swab sit on the glue for a minute or two.

  3. Use a dull kitchen knife to scrape away any loose glue. You may need to repeat this process several times as the glue is lifted.

  4. When you feel all the glue is gone from washable fabrics, treat the area with a remover or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent (Tide or Persil) and launder according to fabric care label directions.

  5. Check the stain before placing the garment in the dryer; you may need to retreat if the stain is still present. Drying on high heat will set the stain and make it impossible to remove.

Tip

If you find a fingernail glue stain on a carpet, mix a solution of one cup warm water, one teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent and two tablespoons distilled white vinegar and wait for the glue to dry. Then dip a clean white cloth, paper towel, or sponge in the solution and give the area a quick scrub. Blot with a clean cloth dipped in plain water to rinse then let the stained area air-dry.

How to Remove Glitter Glue Stains

Glitter glue is a combination product, joining simple white "school" glue with dyes and glitter that can make stains even harder to eliminate.

Stain type: Protein-based and dye-based stain
Detergent Type: Regular laundry detergent and oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature: Wash according to the fabric label

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Cold water
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Regular laundry detergent
  • White cloth, paper towel, or sponge (for carpet)

Tools

  • Dull knife or hard plastic scraper

How to Remove Glitter Glue From Fabric

Techniques for removing glitter glue from washable fabrics vary, depending on if the glue is wet or has dried. See instructions below.

  1. Remove Excess Glue

    If the glue is dry, use a dull knife or the edge of a plastic credit card to remove as much of the dried glue as possible, then treat following the next steps, which are used for wet glue.

  2. Soak With Cold Water

    Start by flooding the area with cold water. White glue is a protein stain and hot water can cook the protein and make it more difficult to remove. 

  3. Create a Bleach Solution

    Next, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (such OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and cool water, following package directions.

  4. Let Garment Soak

    Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. This step will remove the dye component.

  5. Wash or Repeat Stain Removal Steps

    If, after soaking, the stain is gone, wash as usual. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. 

Tip

If glitter glue was found stuck to a carpet, use a tool with a dull edge to lift away as much of the glue stain as possible. Then mix a solution of oxygen bleach and warm water. Saturate the stained area and allow the solution to work for at least one hour. After an hour, wipe away with a clean dry cloth. If dye remains, repeat with a fresh solution of oxygen bleach. Once all of the dye is gone, sponge with plain water and allow the carpet to air-dry.

Hot Glue

Hot glue guns and sticks are a crafter's best friend. However, hot glue resin and fabric do not mix. 

Warning

Never try to wipe fresh hot glue away, because it will only push the stain deeper into the fibers.

Stain Type: Protein-based
Detergent Type: Goo Gone or acetone and regular detergent
Water Temperature: Wash according to fabric label

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour to overnight (depends on the method chosen)

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Goo Gone or acetone
  • Regular laundry detergent
  • Cotton swab
  • White cloth
  • Ice cubes in a plastic bag (for carpet)

Tools

  • Dull knife or hard plastic scraper

How to Remove Hot Glue From Fabric

  1. Place Garment in Freezer

    If you have some time, placing the glue-stained fabric in the freezer overnight will make the hot glue brittle enough to scrape away with a dull-edged tool or your fingernail. Goo Gone, a commercial cleaner, can be used to remove any remaining residue and then wash the fabric as usual.

  2. Apply Acetone to the Stain

    If you have less time, acetone can be used to remove the glue. Dip a cotton swab in the acetone. Working from the outside of the glue stain toward the inside, keep dabbing as the glue transfers from your garment to the cotton swab. Use a clean swab as the glue is transferred and keep working until all traces of the glue are gone.

    Warning

    Keep in mind that acetone or fingernail polish remover cannot be used on acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic because the acetone will dissolve those fabrics. Take a stained garment containing these materials to a professional dry cleaner, no home glue removal method is safe for these fabrics.

  3. Wash the Garment

    After removing the glue, wash the garment as usual.

    Tip

    If hot glue gets on your carpet, the easiest removal method is to freeze the glue by placing a plastic bag filled with ice cubes over it. Once it hardens, it will break off the carpet fibers. You can use a dull kitchen knife to scrape it off. You can also use acetone on a carpet if the ice-cube method does not work.

Rubber Cement

Rubber cement is great for crafting but can leave a stain on clothes. Like other adhesives, do not rub the stain because it pushes the glue deeper into the fabric.

Stain Type: Protein-based
Detergent Type: Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature: Hot

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before removing the stain.

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar (for carpet)
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent (for carpet)
  • Clean cloth (for carpet)

Tools

  • Dull knife or hard plastic scraper

How to Remove Rubber Cement From Carpet

  1. Lift Away Excess Cement

    Use a tool with a dull edge to lift away as much of the rubber cement as possible.

  2. Mix a Stain-Removing Solution

    Mix a solution of one cup warm water, one teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, and two tablespoons distilled white vinegar.

  3. Scrub the Affected Area

    Dip a clean cloth in the solution and give the area a quick scrub.

  4. Rinse the Carpet

    Rinse with a clean cloth dipped in plain water.

  5. Air-Dry

    All the carpet to air-dry and repeat steps if needed.

Tip

Looking to remove rubber cement from fabric? It's simple. Scrape off as much rubber cement as possible from the surface of the fabric using a dull edge. Treat the area with a stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent then wash in the hottest water approved for the fabric.

Super Glue

Super glue is similar to nail glue and its stain removal instructions are similar. Since this method involves acetone, note that certain fabrics made from acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic fabrics can dissolve in fingernail 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. 

Stain Type: Chemical-based
Detergent Type: Heavy-duty laundry detergent and acetone
Water Temperature: Wash according to the fabric label

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Acetone-based fingernail polish remover
  • Cotton swabs
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Warm water (for carpet)
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent (for carpet)
  • Distilled white vinegar (for carpet)

Tools

  • Clean cloth (for carpet)

How to Remove Super Glue From Fabric

  1. Let Glue Dry

    Allow the glue to dry completely before attempting to remove it from fabric.

  2. Perform a Color Test

    Dip a cotton swab in acetone-based nail polish remover and rub the swab on an inner seam to make sure the remover does not damage or discolor the fabric.

  3. Dab Stain With Solution

    To keep the stain from spreading, work from the outside of the stain to the inside dabbing the spot with the swab. Use a clean swab as the glue is transferred. You may need to repeat this process on both sides of the fabric.

  4. Rinse and Wash as Usual

    When you the glue is removed, rub a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent into the stain and wash as usual.​ Check the stain before placing the garment in the dryer; you may need to repeat the cleaning steps. High heat from the dryer will set the stain and make it impossible to remove.

    Tip

    Super glue stuck on a carpet can be removed with the same same acetone and cotton swab cleaning method for fabrics. After the glue is gone, mix a solution of one cup warm water, one teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, and two tablespoons distilled white vinegar. Give the area a quick scrub with the solution. Rinse and allow to air-dry.

White School Glue

White school glue is a staple for every kid and crafter. Fortunately, the stains are fairly easy to remove. White glue is a protein stain that can usually be removed by rinsing in cold water before washing. The stains are easiest to remove if treated while fresh.

Stain Type: Protein-based
Detergent Type: Regular laundry detergent
Water Temperature: Cold

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 to 30 minutes, depends if the stain is dry

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Cold, running water
  • Regular laundry detergent
  • Paper towels

Tools

  • Dull knife or scraping tool
  • Sponge

How to Remove White Glue From Fabric

  1. Scrape Off Excess Glue

    If the glue is dry, use a dull knife or the edge of a plastic credit card to remove the dried glue and follow the steps for removing wet glue.

  2. Flood With Cold Water

    Start by flooding the area with cold water from the back of the fabric to force out the glue. 

  3. Wash the Fabric

    Rinse and wash the fabric as usual.

    Tip

    You can use a very similar method to remove white glue stains from carpet. Blot the stain with a wet sponge dipped in plain water and then absorb the excess moisture with paper towels and allow to air-dry.