How to Remove Glue and Adhesives Stains From Clothes and Carpets

Man working with glue on birdhouse
Westend61 / Getty Images
  • 01 of 09

    Before You Begin

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

    Every household makes regular use of glues and adhesives to bond materials together or to fix broken items. Glue can create masterpieces in the hands of a creative child equipped with art materials, and it can save the day when a lamp is broken, an acrylic fingernail comes off, or a tile comes loose in the bathroom. There are many types of glues and adhesives from simple school white glue to rubber cement. 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.

     

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Commercial Adhesives

    remove commercial adhesive from clothes
    Gary Ombler/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    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 
    • Water Temperature: Wash according to the fabric label

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • Dull knife or plastic scraper
    • Freezer or bag of ice
    • Solvent or stain remover

    How to Remove Commerical Adhesives From Fabric

    1. 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. Use the edge of a dull knife or plastic scraper to lift away any excessive globs of glue, then let the area dry.
    3. 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. If a stain remains, spot treat the area with a solvent or stain remover.

    How to Remove Commerical Adhesives From Carpet

    1. Try freezing the adhesive with some ice cubes in a plastic bag.
    2. Once frozen, try to break away the adhesive. Then use the recommended adhesive solvent following the directions.
    3. If a stain remains, spot treat the area with a solvent or stain remover.

    Tip

    Always test any solvents or stain remover on a hidden area of the clothing or carpet to be sure the item is colorfast. 

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    Fingernail Glue

    remove nail glue from clothes
    Altrendo Images/Getty Images

    Artificial nail glue is basically 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.

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

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • Acetone-based nail polish remover
    • Cotton swabs
    • Dull kitchen knife
    • Stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent
    • Water (for carpet)
    • Liquid dishwashing detergent (for carpet)
    • Distilled white vinegar (for carpet)
    • White cloth, paper towel, or sponge (for carpet)

    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 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.

    How to Remove Nail Glue From Carpet

    1. After the glue is dry, mix a solution of one cup warm water, one teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent and two tablespoons distilled white vinegar.
    2. Dip a clean white cloth, paper towel, or sponge in the solution and give the area a quick scrub.
    3. Blot with a clean cloth dipped in plain water to rinse.
    4. Allow the stained area to air dry. 

    Tip

    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.

     

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Glitter Glue

    A child decorating eggs at Easter with glitter, glue and paint.
    Mint Images / Getty Images

    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 stain
    • Detergent Type: Oxygen-based bleach
    • Water Temperature: Wash according to the fabric label

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • Dull knife or hard plastic scraper
    • Cold water
    • Oxygen-based bleach
    • White cloth, paper towel, or sponge (for carpet)

    How to Remove Glitter Glue From Fabric

    1. Techniques for removing glitter glue from washable fabrics vary, depending on if the glue is wet or has dried. 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. 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. Next, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and cool water, following package directions.
    4. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. This step will remove the dye component.
    5. If, after soaking, the stain is gone, wash as usual. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. 

    How to Remove Glitter Glue From Carpet

    1. Use a tool with a dull edge to lift away as much of the glue stain as possible.
    2. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and warm water. Saturate the stained area and allow the solution to work for at least one hour.
    3. Wipe away with a clean dry cloth. If dye remains, repeat with a fresh solution of oxygen bleach.
    4. Once all of the dye is gone, sponge with plain water and allow the carpet to air dry.
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Hot Glue

    Hot glue
    nanantachoke / Getty Images

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

    • Stain Type: Protein-based stain
    • Detergent Type: Goo Gone or acetone
    • Water Temperature: Wash according to the fabric label

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • Dull knife or hard plastic scraper
    • Goo Gone
    • Cotton swab
    • White cloth
    • Ice cube in plastic bag (for carpet)

    How to Remove Hot Glue From Fabric

    1. 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. If you have less time, acetone can be used to remove the glue. 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. For other washable fabrics, place a white towel under the stain.
    4. 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.
    5. After removing the glue, wash the garment as usual.

    How to Remove Glitter Glue From Carpet

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

    Tip

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

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Rubber Cement

    remove rubber cement from clothes
    pixhook/E+/Getty Images

    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 stain
    • 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

    • Dull knife or hard plastic scraper
    • Stain remover of heavy-duty laundry detergent
    • Distilled white vinegar (for carpet)
    • Liquid dishwashing detergent (for carpet)
    • Clean cloth (for carpet)

    How to Remove Rubber Cement From Fabric

    1. Scrape off as much rubber cement as possible from the surface of the fabric using a dull edge. 
    2. 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.

    How to Remove Rubber Cement From Carpet

    1. Use a tool with a dull edge to lift away as much of the rubber cement as possible.
    2. Mix a solution of 1 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, and 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar.
    3. Dip a clean cloth in the solution and give the area a quick scrub.
    4. Rinse with a clean cloth dipped in plain water.
    5. Allow the carpet to air dry. 
    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Sticker Residue

    remove sticker residue from clothes
    Isabel Pavia/Moment Open/Getty Images

    A fairly common occurrence: A kid's sticker gets left on a shirt, and it accidentally goes through the clothes washer or worse, the dryer. Usually, the paper part of the sticker washes away in the washer and you are left with the sticker residue or adhesive. Quite often, the adhesive has attracted dirt or lint and the stain looks almost black.

    • Stain Type: Protein-based stain
    • Detergent Type: White vinegar
    • Water Temperature: Cold

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • White vinegar
    • Sponge
    • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
    • Paper towel (for carpet)

    How to Remove Stickers From Fabric

    1. Begin by heating undiluted white distilled vinegar in the microwave until it is warm.
    2. Use a sponge and saturate the sticker area with the warm vinegar. Allow the area to soak in the vinegar until the adhesive loosens.
    3. Rinse the stain with cool water. Treat the area with a stain remover and wash as usual in cool water. Cool water (no more than 40 degrees) will help ensure that heat from the wash does not set in the stain.
    4. Check the area before putting the clothes in the dryer. If any residue remains, repeat the treatment. Do not put the garment in the dryer until all adhesive is gone. If the garment has already been through the dryer, it may take several attempts with the warm vinegar to remove all of the residue.
    5. Another method to try is to blot the stained area with rubbing alcohol before washing. Make sure, though, to test this treatment on a hidden area to make sure the fabric is colorfast. 

    How to Remove Stickers From Carpet

    1. You can use the same warm vinegar treatment on a carpet. Saturate the area and let it work for 5 to 10 minutes.
    2. Blot away with a paper towel and rinse with plain water. Repeat if necessary and let the area air dry.
    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Super Glue

    Man working with glue on birdhouse
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Super glue is similar to nail glue and its stain removal instructions are very much alike. 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 stain
    • Detergent Type: Acetone and heavy-duty laundry detergent
    • Water Temperature: Wash according to the fabric label

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • 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)
    • Clean cloth (for carpet)

    How to Remove Super Glue From Fabric

    1. Allow the glue to dry completely before attempting to remove it from fabric.
    2. 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. 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. When you the glue is removed, rub a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent into the stain and wash as usual.
    5. Tip: 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.

    How to Remove Super Glue From Carpet

    1. Use the same acetone and cotton swab cleaning method for fabrics for removing super glue from a carpet.
    2. After the glue is gone, mix a solution of one cup warm water, one teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, and two tablespoons distilled white vinegar.
    3. Dip a clean cloth in the solution and give the area a quick scrub.
    4. Rinse with a clean cloth dipped in plain water.
    5. Allow to air dry. Repeat the steps if necessary.
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    White "School" Glue

    Boy spreading glue on crepe paper to make pinata
    Bonfanti Diego / Getty Images

    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 be removed by soaking and rubbing the stain in cold water before washing. The stains are easiest to remove if treated while fresh.

    • Stain Type: Protein-based stain
    • Detergent Type: None
    • Water Temperature: Cold

    Project Metrics

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

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

    What You'll Need

    • Dull knife or scraping tool
    • Cold, running water
    • Sponge

    How to Remove Super Glue From Fabric or Carpet

    1. Use a dull knife or tool with a plastic edge to remove as much of the glue as possible from the surface. Do not rub because this will push the glue deeper into the fibers. 
    2. Flush out the glue by holding the fabric under running cold water and then wash. On carpet, repeated soaking and blotting with a wet sponge will often do the trick. 
    3. If the stain is dried or old, scrape off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water for 30 minutes before washing fabrics or wetting and blotting a carpet.