How to Remove Glue and Adhesive Stains

How to Remove Glue and Adhesive Stains From Furniture

The Spruce / Xiaojie Liu

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

Glue and adhesive stains on wood should be expected from time to time, especially while building, repairing, or crafting. However, a glue spill doesn't have to mean your furniture is ruined. Glue and adhesive stain removal, especially on lower-strength products, are efficiently dealt with at home. However, super glue (cyanoacrylate glue), carpenter's glue (polyvinyl acetate), contact cement, and construction adhesive are likely to damage the wood. You can still take measures to minimize the impact of the stain. While you may already own some removal supplies, such as nail polish remover, you may need to take a trip to the store to purchase a couple of additional items.


Click Play to Learn How to Clean Glue and Adhesive Stains From Furniture

 Stain type Resin-based/chemical-based
 Detergent type Varied
 Water temperature Room temperature

Before You Begin

For the most specific glue or adhesive removal instructions, look to the glue manufacturer—they likely supply guidance for removing residue from their product. Check the back of their container or visit their website. If they don't provide instructions, try the following methods to remove glue or adhesive residue from your wood surface.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Expired or unused credit card
  • Cleaning rags
  • Butter knife
  • #600-grit sandpaper
  • #1200-grit sandpaper


  • Furniture polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton swabs
  • Mineral oil or mineral spirits and olive oil
  • Commercial residue remover
  • Satin or dull gloss finish


  1. Scrape Away Excess Adhesive

    Use an old credit card or a similar, hard-surfaced plastic item to scrape away excess adhesive. You can also use a pull scraper with a sharp blade for larger glue spots or a razor knife if the glue has already dried. You may have to scrape away the glue in layers, so be careful as you get closer to the final layer of the glue and close to the wood itself.

    scraping away excess glue with a credit card

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Apply Furniture Polish

    Apply furniture polish to remove the stain. Spray the polish directly on the adhesive residue and gently rub it with a cloth. It might help lift the adhesive or glue off, and you'll be done with the task. 

    spraying furniture polish onto a glue stain

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Wipe Down the Wood

    Wipe the surface down with a cloth once the stain has been lifted.

    wiping down the wood with a clean cloth

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Glue and Adhesive Stains With Nail Polish Remover

If furniture polish wasn't effective at removing the residue, try an acetone-based nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol. This may be especially helpful on stains from superglue.

  1. Soak a Cotton Swab

    Dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover and gently apply it to the residue.

    using nail polish remover on an adhesive stain

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Scrape the Residue

    Lightly scrape the dampened residue with your fingernail or a butter knife. Be careful not to damage the wood while scraping.

    Use a butter knife to scrape excess glue off of a wooden table

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


While you may be inclined to use WD-40 to remove stains from your wood, it may have a damaging effect. Avoid products that contain paint thinner.

How to Remove Glue and Adhesive Stains With Mineral-Based Removal

A mineral-based removal method is another option for getting rid of residue on the wood.

  1. Pour a small amount of mineral oil on the spilled adhesive and rub it with a clean cloth. If you only have mineral spirits, combine them in a 1-to-1 ratio with olive oil to make a mixture before lightly applying it to the glue spot.

    pouring mineral oil onto a glue stain

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Glue and Adhesive Stains With Commercial Residue Removal

If none of the previous methods work to remove the adhesive from the wood, try a commercial residue remover.

  1. Apply a commercial residue remover to the stain. Always look to the instructions on the back of the product to know how long to let the solution sit on the stain.

    using residue remover on a glue stain

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Wipe down the wood with a cloth to remove excess liquid.

    wiping down the wood with a clean cloth

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Glue and Adhesive Stains With Sandpaper

Consider a more aggressive approach if the above methods aren't effective. Sanding the stained wood may work to remove the stain.

  1. Sand With #600-Grit Sandpaper

    Start with #600-grit sandpaper, a very fine-grit sandpaper less likely to damage the wood finish. Sand the residue until the sandpaper is level with the wood.

    sanding a glue stain off of wood

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Switch to #1200-Grit Sandpaper

    If the #600-grit isn't effective, you may have to switch to #1200 grit sandpaper, a finer-grained option.

    sanding with additional sandpaper

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Refinish With Gloss

    Once the sandpaper has removed the stain, apply a satin or dull gloss finish to return the shine to the wood.

    adding gloss to a wooden table

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Additional Tips for Handling Glue and Adhesive Stains

To protect your wood furniture while repairing, building, or crafting, put down a protective layer of paper. Old newspapers, a drop cloth, or plastic wrap effectively keep glue and adhesives off wood furniture. When applying removal methods, always begin with gentler techniques, and work your way up to more robust, abrasive solutions as necessary.

Before trying any commercial removal products, particularly ones you're less familiar with, test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the wood. Remember that a lot of wood furniture and flooring has a surface finish, such as lacquer or polyurethane, meaning that you're removing the glue from the finish, not the wood itself.