How to Clean Uncured Glue

How do I clean up uncured glues?

There are two methods for cleaning up uncured glues that have built up around a bonding area or that have become a result of a spill, both of which require mechanical techniques:

  1. The use of a latex gloved finger, dry cloth, strong paper towel, stick, single-edged razorblade, or putty knife will help remove large quantities of uncured adhesive from a bonding area without compromising the glue joint. If using your finger, wear rubber gloves to avoid contact. Dispose of all uncured glue properly.
  2. Solvent soaked in the edge of a folded, clean cloth can be used to remove the thin film or smears of uncured adhesives after the bulk of the excess adhesive is removed by mechanical methods. Solvent can compromise the edges of a glue joint by dissolving the adhesive. Most times it is better to see a little adhesive than risk bond failure by removing too much.

It is important to choose a solvent that is compatible with each type of adhesive, but also important to realize some solvents will mar the finish or even dissolve the parts being bonded. Always make a test of the solvent type on a small amount of uncured adhesive as well as on the material to be cleaned before starting the bonding project. Here is a list of solvents and their relevant strength:

A. Water is a good choice to clean up Wood glues and paste adhesives. It is a bad choice to use on epoxies and silicones.

B. Denatured Alcohol is a great solvent that will not mar most surfaces if used sparingly. Wood glues, pastes, and epoxies can be cleaned with this solvent.

C. Acetone and MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) are strong solvents.These are used to clean more deeply. Can be used on plastics, metals, and glass. Be careful when using on plastics, it may cause damage. They will mar surfaces by removing the natural oils and finishes themselves. They will also dissolve most adhesives especially when uncured. Use sparingly with the edge of a folded cloth in well ventilated areas; they are highly flammable and evaporate very quickly into a strong vapor. These vapors are also highly flammable and noxious—Do Not Breath or Ignite. Make sure all used cleaning cloths are placed outside and away from ignition sources until completely evaporated. Do not throw solvent and cloth in garbage containers while volatile.

Always follow the adhesive and solvent manufacturer’s directions for safe use of their products completely.