DIY Skills & Techniques

How To: Remove Hot Glue

Don't fret when left with a mess after using a hot glue gun. A little patience and some common household items will help you tackle the job.
Kristen Mosier Avatar
How To Remove Hot Glue

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

A glue gun is a versatile tool that can bond just about any two items together. The adhesive strength is effective, but can be frustrating when trying to remove it once it has dried. Whether your crafty child has made a mess on your kitchen table or you’ve accidentally dripped hot glue onto your clothes, some simple tricks will help you clean it up in no time. Read on to learn how to remove hot glue from fabrics, solid surfaces, and even carpeting.

Tools & Materials may earn a commission from purchases made through these links.

Removing Hot Glue From Fabrics 

Since hot glue is applied in a melted state, it will wrap around fibers before hardening, making it highly effective for use on various fabrics. This is great for crafting but not ideal for removing the adhesive once it’s dried. Whether you dripped glue on your jeans or made a mistake during a project, a little ingenuity will make removing it simple.

STEP 1: Dry the glue by placing the sticky fabric or item in a freezer for 30 minutes. 

Glue becomes brittle and will more easily lift once exposed to extreme cold; therefore, using low temperatures to remove it is an effective method. When you’re ready to start, simply place your item in the freezer for 30 minutes. If it won’t fit in your freezer, either drop it in a cooler with a cooling element, such as a bag of ice.

STEP 2: Once the glue has dried, peel it off carefully using your fingers or a butter knife. 

Once your item has had ample time to cool, place it on a hard surface and begin to remove the dried glue. Carefully pop it off with your finger or, for more challenging spots, nudge it with a butter knife or spoon. Work your tool gently between the fabric and the glue to lift it away from your garment. Take caution when working with delicate fabrics such as sheers and lace to avoid holes and tears.

STEP 3: Wash away any sticky residue.

After scraping the glue off, you may notice that your fabric is still a bit sticky. Either hand wash your item or throw it in the laundry to remove the remaining residue. If it seems especially tricky, rub detergent directly on the spot and let it sit for a short time before laundering. Make sure the glue is completely gone before drying your item on high heat.

How To Remove Hot Glue

Related: The Best Hot Glue Guns for Craft and DIY Projects

Removing Hot Glue From Hard Surfaces 

Hot glue will easily bind two hard surfaces together but can be tricky to get off once it’s dried, similar to removing caulk. It’s not uncommon for the adhesive to inadvertently end up on your table or another work surface, or perhaps you’ve accidentally glued an item together improperly. It may seem impossible to separate the bond, but this common household item will do the job quickly and easily.

STEP 1: Paint isopropyl alcohol onto the surface.

Rubbing alcohol is a simple solution for removing your adhesive, as it will effectively break down the bonds of the hot glue. The higher the percentage of alcohol in the liquid, the more effective it will be for removing residue, but 70 percent will work well with most items. To get started, dip a paintbrush or cotton swab in the alcohol and begin applying it onto your object. Paint from the edges in and over the entire area. Any excess will evaporate quickly, but take caution not to use too much on painted or varnished surfaces.

STEP 2: Peel the glue off carefully using your fingers or a butter knife. 

If you’re detaching two items, begin the next step by removing one object so you can work on each piece separately. After that, attempt to lift the edge of the glue with your finger. If it doesn’t come off easily, let it sit a bit longer or dab on more alcohol. The longer the solution sits, the easier it should lift. When it’s ready, gently peel back the glue with your finger or a butter knife.

STEP 3: Wipe with a wet cloth.

Once you have completely removed the dried glue, wipe down your surface with a wet cloth to remove any remaining sticky residue. Make sure the item is dry before reusing it on another project. This method should work well on fabric items as well, but it would be wise to test a spot before saturating your garment.

How To Remove Hot Glue

Related: How to Use a Glue Gun

Removing Hot Glue From Carpet

As mentioned earlier, hot glue in its melted form will readily bond to fibers, making it incredibly tricky to remove from carpet. If you drip glue on your rug, avoid trying to wipe it away, which will generally only push it further into the threads. Instead, wait for it to dry and then use a couple of everyday household items to lift the adhesive.

STEP 1: Place a piece of fabric over the glue. 

Before starting this step, make sure your dripped glue is completely dried. Next, take a scrap piece of fabric and lay it gently over the dried glue, covering the entire area. Make sure to choose a fabric that will not melt under high heat while ironing. Avoid materials such as nylon or velvet and instead opt for simple cotton rags.

STEP 2: Heat an iron and apply it to the fabric.  

Plug in and warm up your iron until it reaches medium-high heat. This temperature should provide enough heat without burning your carpet. Resist the urge to iron back and forth as you would typically do, as this will just spread the glue. Instead, simply press down to heat the affected spot to melt the glue onto the fabric. Once the glue has adhered to the scrap, it can then be easily lifted from your surface.

STEP 3: Repeat the process until the glue is stuck to the fabric rather than the carpet.

Sometimes this step will need to be done again for a thorough cleaning. If you’ve completed the above steps and there is still residual glue on your carpet, simply repeat the process until it is all removed. You’ll want to use a new scrap of fabric for each subsequent application to avoid spreading the glue once the iron has heated the spot. Remember not to move the iron back and forth, but simply press down to apply heat.

STEP 4: Clean the affected area with a carpet cleaner to remove any residual glue. 

Once you’ve removed the bulk of the glue from your carpet, there may be small remnants remaining in the fibers. To detach these final pieces of adhesive, proceed to spot clean your rug as you usually would. You might also try dabbing some alcohol on the area, as mentioned above, to lift the glue residue left behind. Make sure to test a spot first to make sure the liquid won’t damage the carpet.


As you can see, you don’t have to shop for a long list of supplies in order to get your cleanup started. These everyday household items will come in handy for removing glue from a variety of surfaces. Just remember to take caution when working with heated adhesive and be gentle with delicate fabrics. Now that you’ve learned how to remove hot glue from any surface, you’re ready to get started on your next craft or repair project.