Nothing makes crafting easier than having a hot glue gun at hand to attach feathers, buttons, felt, or beads! Once in a while, though, a blob of hot glue always finds its way onto your clothing. You can easily learn how to get hot glue off fabric and rescue your jeans or t-shirt next time this happens to you!
Solvents such as isopropyl alcohol and acetone will dissolve the chemical bonds of hot glue and make it possible to peel the glue away from the fabric. Applying heat or extreme cold can also remove hot glue from clothing. In some cases, washing the glue in hot water may also remove all traces.
In this article, you will learn what makes hot glue stick to the fabric. You will discover five simple methods for getting hot glue off the fabric without damaging the cloth. Finally, you will find out how to get hot glue off a fabric couch and out of the carpet.
Does Hot Glue Come Off Fabric?
You can get hot glue off fabric quite easily in most cases by either causing a sharp temperature change or using a solvent to break the bond between the adhesive and the fabric.
Technically, hot glue is something called a hot melt adhesive. This means that the glue does not adhere to your clothes or couch just because of its stickiness. Instead, it forms bonds with the cloth through rapid loss of heat.
Because of its molten state, the adhesive can wrap itself around the fibers in the fabric, creating a really strong bond with the cloth!
As you know very well, if you have accidentally stuck your fingers in freshly applied hot glue, it applies at a very high temperature in a melted state. It then cools and hardens extremely quickly as the polymer and resin set into their solid state and bond to whatever surface they landed on.
The plasticky-looking sticks that you slide into your hot glue gun contain polymers, resins, and a type of wax. The wax lets the elements heat and melt rapidly, while the polymers and resins can form strong bonds with multiple nonporous surfaces at the same time.
Though it sets fast and works well for many projects, hot glue is not the adhesive of choice for anything that needs a lot of strength or long life. For instance, an outdoor project might work better with an epoxy or something equally strong.
Hot glue is sort of waterproof, but very hot or cold water will change its hardened state, meaning that water can remove hot glue from fabric in some circumstances.
Instead, as you will see in the next section, you can use various simple methods to break the bonds between the hardened adhesive and the fabric surface it stuck to.
How to Get Hot Glue Off Fabric: 5 Methods
You can safely remove hot glue from fabric without damaging the cloth by applying a few simple household products. You can also use a rapid temperature change to melt or freeze the glue to get it out of your clothes.
As a word of caution, any time you use a strong solvent as a stain remover on your clothing, you should test a small drop of the product on a hidden inside seam of the garment beforehand. This way, you can make sure the rubbing alcohol, acetone, or another stain remover will not damage your clothes even more than the original blob of glue!
1. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is one of the most popular solvents for removing hardened glue from many kinds of surfaces, including fabric! This simple method works best with a higher concentration of isopropyl alcohol, but you can try it with whatever sort of rubbing alcohol you have stashed away in your medicine cabinet.
As an added benefit, rubbing alcohol should not damage most fabric types. You should still do a quick drop test first, though!
To remove hot glue using rubbing alcohol:
- For a tiny blob of hot glue, soak a cotton ball generously in rubbing alcohol.
- For a large amount of glue, soak a clean rag in rubbing alcohol and smooth it over the stain. Allow this to sit for five minutes.
- Rubbing from outside the edge of the adhesive toward the center of the stain, work the cotton ball around the perimeter.
- With the fabric still wet, try prying up an edge of the adhesive blob with your fingernails or a dull butter knife.
- If the edge easily peels away from the cloth, gently pull it entirety off using your fingers.
- If the glue remains hardened and stuck, apply more rubbing alcohol.
2. Nail Polish Remover / Acetone
Nail polish remover contains a powerful solvent called acetone that can dissolve the chemical bonds that hold many stains to fabric, including nail polish, fabric paint, and hot glue.
As you would imagine, with something strong enough to dissolve hardened nail polish, this chemical is pretty strong. Of course, it won’t harm you as it is designed for use on your skin! But it can melt some fabrics, especially synthetics such as polyester or rayon.
For this reason, you should test out a tiny drop of acetone on your garment before trying this method.
To remove hot glue using acetone:
- Soak a cotton ball in acetone. If you do not want to touch the nail polish remover, consider wearing latex gloves for this process.
- Work the wet cotton ball around the edge of the adhesive stain, making sure the acetone soaks the fabric well around the blob.
- Next, gently rub the cotton ball over the surface of the glue. For larger stains, try soaking a cotton rag in acetone and resting the cloth on the adhesive for five minutes.
- Now take a second clean cloth and dab at the glue with it. You should see some glue coming away onto the clean cloth.
- Apply acetone and blot with the clean cloth until all the glue has transferred onto the rag.
3. Washing Machine/Hot Water Method
In some cases, hot glue may wash off fabric, especially if you can set the water temperature in your washing machine to quite a high heat. That said, the washing machine works best as a follow-up treatment to remove any sticky residue that may cling to your clothes after you have removed most of the hardened glue.
It’s not the best idea to throw clothes with solidified hot glue on them into your washing machine. The plastic-like adhesive may work free of the clothes in the machine, but it can get down into your washing machine and clog it up!
For the best results, you should wash your clothes after removing most of the adhesive. If you have a large sticky patch left over after peeling away the glue blob, try pouring a few drops of laundry detergent straight onto the stickiness. Then place the garment in your washing machine and wash it as usual.
As a pro tip, if you have hot glued your clothes on purpose–maybe you wanted to add flowers to a special dress, or you helped your child make a last-minute Halloween costume–you should definitely hand-wash these items. The hot glue is waterproof and can hold up to gentle handwashing, but the constant agitation and hot water in the washing machine will likely damage it.
Using an iron is one of the quickest ways to remove hot glue from fabric, but you will want to take care to avoid burning yourself as you re-melt the adhesive during this method.
Since you used heat to apply the hot glue, it makes sense that you can also use heat to remove it!
To use an iron to remove hot glue from fabric:
- Set up your ironing board or spread out a large bath towel.
- Smooth a flat piece of a brown paper bag or a clean cotton rag on top of the ironing board.
- Next, arrange the gluey garment with the plasticky blob facing down on top of the brown paper or rag.
- Turn on your iron using the temperature setting designed for the kind of fabric in your garment. For instance, if you have a cotton shirt, use the cotton heat setting on the iron.
- Apply the iron directly to the back of the stain, moving the iron back and forth slowly for ten to thirty seconds.
- Set the iron aside carefully and lift your garment. Some adhesive should have melted and transferred to the brown paper or rag beneath.
- Replace the brown paper or rag and repeat this process until no glue remains on your clothing.
One of the easiest ways to get hot glue off your clothes is to stick the clothing in the freezer for half an hour! This will make the adhesive turn brittle and allow you to crack and peel away flakes quite easily.
To use a freezer to get hot glue off fabric:
- Place your stained clothing into a Ziploc or brown paper bag. Put the bag in the freezer and leave it there for at least half an hour. Leaving it for longer will not hurt the garment, but it won’t make much difference in removing the glue.
- Next, retrieve your clothing and examine the blob. You should see some cracking around the edges.
- Use a spoon or dull knife to pry away these broken edges. It will take some work, as the adhesive should fragment instead of coming off all in one blob. Ut the cold should have damaged the bond the glue had with the fabric, allowing you to remove it without damaging the cloth.
How Do You Remove Dried Hot Glue From Fabric
The best way to reliably get dried hot glue from fabric is to soak the adhesive with isopropyl alcohol. You can use any of the methods in this article successfully on most dried hot glue. But rubbing alcohol works well to dissolve the bonds between the glue and the fabric.
Rubbing alcohol also operates safely on most types of fabric, including carpets and upholstery. This means you can use it on almost all surfaces.
That said, the rubbing alcohol method does require a bit of elbow grease. You have to carefully pry up the hardened adhesive by hand and keep dabbing away with additional alcohol to slowly remove the entire stain. If you find yourself in a hurry, you may want to try a speedier method such as ironing to remelt the dried glue and blot it up out of your clothing.
How To Remove Hot Glue From Fabric Without Damaging It
You can remove hot glue from fabric without damaging it, but you may need to take special measures with some more delicate kinds of cloth. Most of the time, you can go by the instructions on the care label inside your clothing. If the label says washable and heat-safe, you can usually safely apply any of the methods in this article!
On the other hand, you will want to take a dry-clean-only garment to a professional. As the cleaners about the stain and they will let you know if it is possible to remove it without harming the clothing.
The manufacturer’s label should also tell you what kind of fabric the garment contains. This will help you figure out which adhesive removal method to use.
You can remove hot glue from cotton fabric easily because cotton is washable and can also withstand an application of heat. This means you can use the freezer, ironing, or washing method on cotton.
You can also safely apply acetone or rubbing alcohol to cotton fabric without damaging it. The only exception to this is that you would not want to place these solvents on a printed design on a cotton t-shirt, as the solvents could strip the color off your cool t-shirt.
Many popular clothes like jeans, hoodies, and t-shirts contain cotton. The denim in jeans or the jersey knit in t-shirts will hold up just fine to most glue removal methods!
The most reliable way to get hot glue out of velvet is to use a modified version of the rubbing alcohol method.
Getting hot glue out of velvet can prove challenging because velvet has that deep, plush nap that the adhesive can soak into. You can’t use the freezer method or simply pull the glue away from velvet, as it will rip out the tiny velvety fibers of the nap with it!
These days, most velvet contains polyester fibers, so you will want to avoid using anything that could damage the synthetic material, too.
What you can do, though, is to use rubbing alcohol.
- Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and wipe this over the adhesive. Let the alcohol dry–this should just take a minute, as the moisture will evaporate quickly.
- Next, you will need a special art gum eraser that you can find in any arts and crafts store. Knead it a bit in your fingers to make it pliable.
- Gently work the eraser over the glue. Hopefully, you will start to see a bit of adhesive sticking to the eraser and coming away without ripping the velvet!
- You may have to repeat this process several times to get all the clinging glue out of the nap of the velvet.
The best way to get hot glue off polyester is to use the freezer method. Heat can damage synthetic materials, so you probably do not want to risk the ironing method.
Alternatively, for a quicker fix, you can try the acetone method. Nail polish remover will dissolve the adhesive bonds from polyester, making it possible for you to peel away the hot glue from your clothing more quickly.
That said, you need to test out a tiny drop of the acetone on a hidden area of your clothing first. In some cases, acetone can damage synthetic fabrics.
The best method for removing hot glue from black fabric depends on the type of material in the fabric. Before removing an adhesive from black fabric, you need to read the manufacturer’s label to find out what kind of fibers your garment contains. This will let you select a safe removal method.
For example, if you have a black cotton knit t-shirt, you can safely use most of the methods in this article. If you have a black silk dress, you’re going to need to take it to a dry cleaner.
The one thing to keep in mind when removing glue from any black fabric is that you do not want to accidentally bleach the fabric. Use the freezer method first or the iron method if the cloth can safely withstand the heat. You can use a solvent such as rubbing alcohol on many kinds of black material, but you should perform a spot test first to make sure the solvent won’t bleach the black cloth.
How to Get Hot Glue Out of Carpet
The easiest way to get hot glue out of your carpet is to use the rubbing alcohol method. This will allow you to dissolve the bonds holding the adhesive to the carpet fibers and peel away the hardened glue.
Most of the time, simply applying rubbing alcohol to the edges of the blob will allow you to get a rip beneath the glue and carefully pry it away from the carpet.
If you try this and it does not seem effective, rinse the alcohol away by blotting the carpet with a clean, damp rag.
Then try re-melting the adhesive by laying a clean rag over the stain and heating it with a hairdryer. Blot the wet glue with a second clean rag to get most of it out of the carpet.
How to Remove Glue Gun Glue From Fabric Couch
You can use several methods to successfully remove glue gun glue from your fabric couch, including a modified freezing method and the rubbing alcohol or acetone methods.
As it is the safest method, try using the freezing method first. Simply fill a Ziploc bag with ice and put the bag on the glue-hardened upholstery. Let the ice sit there for an hour. Then carefully peel away the frozen adhesive!
If this does not work or you don’t have an hour to spare, you can try the rubbing alcohol or acetone methods. Both solvents will get the glue out of your couch. But you need to do a spot test on the hidden back of your couch first! In some cases, these strong solvents could mark the fabric of your upholstery.
You can get hot glue off fabric by dissolving its adhesive bonds with a solvent like rubbing alcohol or acetone. You can also remelt hot glue using tools like an iron or a hairdryer. In many cases, you can easily remove hot glue by freezing the fabric and then peeling away the glue by hand.
The only tricky thing about removing hot glue is that you need to select a removal method that will not damage the type of fabric in your upholstery or clothing. Take extra care with synthetic material like polyester, and always spot test a drop of your removal product on an inconspicuous area before removing the glue.
Have you ever had a hot glue accident you had to clean up? How did you remove the dried glue? Leave a comment below to let us know!