How to Get Caulk Out of Clothes: 3 Effective Methods to Try After a Messy Project

Caulking sticks to and seeps between clothing fibers, making it tough to remove. However, persistence and quick action can get it out for good.

By Stacey L Nash | Published Dec 30, 2021 12:41 PM

Worker puts silicone sealant to caulk the joint between bidet and wall.

Caulk works wonders to seal the edges around sinks and bathtubs. However, the same characteristics that make it fantastic as a sealant make it difficult to remove from clothing. Caulk sinks into and begins sealing the fibers once it seeps into a fabric. Shirts, pants, synthetic or natural, it doesn’t really matter what the fabric is. Caulk can ruin it.

When looking for a solution on how to get caulk out of clothes, start by checking the state of the stain. The sooner you act, the better your chances of removing the caulk before it has time to seal and harden. However, all is not lost if the caulk has dried. There are a couple of ways to tackle more difficult caulk stains, too.

Keep reading to find out how to remove caulk from clothing, including methods for removing water-based caulk and silicone caulk. There are also details for removing wet caulk and removing dry caulk.

How to Remove Wet Water-Based Caulk From Clothes

how to get caulk out of clothes

Photo: istockphoto.com

Wet caulk is easier to remove than dried caulk. While it’s possible to wash the clothes in a regular washing machine cycle, thoroughly inspect the clothes to make sure a spot isn’t missed before washing and drying the clothing.

Before attempting to remove caulk from clothing, always check the type of caulk that is on the fabric and read the fabric label before applying anything, so you can avoid further damaging the fabric.

The following method can remove wet water-based caulk. If you need to know how to remove silicone caulk from clothing, read the step-by-step instructions below in the section called “How to Get Caulk Out of Clothes Using Adhesive Remover.”

Supplies
Clean cloths or paper towels
Rubbing alcohol
Washing machine
Laundry detergent

STEP 1: Rinse the stain under running water as soon as possible. 

If the caulking is still wet, you might be able to wash it out in a regular wash cycle. However, a preemptive strike to remove as much caulk as possible increases the chances of successfully removing it.

Run the affected area under water, removing as much caulk as possible. Base the water temperature on the fabric. For example, fabrics that should only be washed in cool water should be rinsed in cool water.

STEP 2: Blot the caulk with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

After rinsing, try to remove more of the caulk by blotting the area with a clean cloth or paper towel. The towel will help absorb the caulk before it has a chance to seep into the fabric’s fibers. Make sure to blot, and do not rub. Rubbing can force the caulk further into the fibers, making it more difficult to remove.

STEP 3: Apply rubbing alcohol. 

Next, apply rubbing alcohol to loosen the hold of the caulk in the fibers. Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and can remove the caulk that the water may have left behind. Again, make sure to blot the area rather than rub it. In some cases, the rubbing alcohol will remove most if not all of the remaining caulk.

STEP 4: Wash the clothing in a washing machine.

After rinsing, blotting, and applying (then blotting) rubbing alcohol, run the clothing through a regular wash cycle. Check the stain before drying the clothes. If the caulk still remains, try soaking the stained area in rubbing alcohol, blot it out to remove the excess, and run the clothing through another wash cycle.

How to Remove Dry Caulk From Clothing

how to get caulk out of clothes

Photo: istockphoto.com

Dry caulk can be more difficult to remove than wet caulk. This removal process is similar to the process of removing wax from fabric—by freezing it.

Before attempting to remove caulk from clothing, always check the type of caulk that is on the fabric and read the fabric label before applying anything, so you can avoid further damaging the fabric. The following method can remove dry water-based caulk. If you need to know how to remove silicone caulk from clothing, read the step-by-step instructions below in the section called “How to Get Caulk Out of Clothes Using Adhesive Remover.”

Supplies
Sealable plastic bag
Freezer
Scissors
Rubbing alcohol or cleaning agent
Washing machine
Laundry detergent (optional for tough stains)

STEP 1: Place the clothing in a sealable plastic bag and freeze it. 

Fold the stained clothing with the caulk facing out, and place it in a sealable plastic bag. This will protect both the clothing and the food in the freezer. Leave the sealed bag in the freezer until the clothing is frozen. The clothes should feel stiff and possibly crunchy if they were wet when placed in the freezer.

STEP 2: Use scissors to scrape off the caulk. 

Use a pair of scissors to slowly chip away and scrape off the frozen caulk. Keep the scissors closed, using the outside edge of one of the blades. Sometimes it’s easiest to chip the caulk off in chunks. You can also use a file, butter knife, or another similarly shaped tool to scrape the caulk.

STEP 3: Blot off the remaining caulk using rubbing alcohol.

If there’s caulk remaining on the clothes, either soak or blot the stain with rubbing alcohol. Make sure to blot the caulk to prevent pushing it further into the fibers. Soak up the excess rubbing alcohol with a clean, dry cloth. If some of the stain remains, try running the clothing through a regular wash cycle.

How to Get Silicone Caulk Out of Clothes Using Adhesive Remover

If you want to know how to remove silicone caulk from clothes, adhesive removers are often the best choice. Adhesive removers work by breaking down the bonds in the caulk. Check the stain remover’s label, as most will list the types of materials they can remove, including silicone caulk.

Supplies
Adhesive remover such as Goo Gone
Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
Washing machine
Laundry detergent

STEP 1: Apply the adhesive remover to the caulk stain. 

how to get caulk out of clothes

Photo: istockphoto.com

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the adhesive remover to the affected area. Some removers come in a spray bottle, while others are a gel or liquid that’s blotted onto the stain using a clean cloth.

Leave the stain remover on the clothing for the time suggested by the manufacturer. Typically, an adhesive remover requires a setting time of 1 to 3 minutes before moving to the next step.

STEP 2: Use scissors to gently remove excess caulk. 

After waiting the suggested time, use scissors or a similarly shaped item to carefully peel or scrape off the caulk. The caulk usually chips off in chunks. Systematically work your way over the affected area until all of the accessible caulk is removed.

STEP 3: Apply rubbing alcohol and/or wash the clothing in a regular washing cycle. 

Use rubbing alcohol to blot and remove any remaining stain. Wash the clothes in the fabric’s recommended regular wash cycle to further remove any remaining caulk. Check that the caulk is removed before drying the clothes.

Final Thoughts

how to get caulk out of clothes

Photo: istockphoto.com

These tried-and-true cleaning methods can help when you need to know how to get caulk off clothes. Pick the method based on the nature of the stain and the type of caulk. If a water-based caulk is still wet, a simple rinse with water or rubbing alcohol may do the trick. For caulk that’s dried into the fabric’s fibers, freezing can help.

Clothes stuck with silicone-based caulk can be cleaned with an adhesive remover, and it could take a combination of methods to fully remove the caulk. With a little elbow grease and blotting (not rubbing), the caulk can be removed so your clothes can be ready to wear again.