While not an everyday source of stains (if you’re no longer in grade school, that is), glue presents a special predicament. After all, the whole point of adhesives is to fasten to the surface they're applied to. There are various types of glue, from craft sticks to glitter glue to commercial grades, but treating them comes down to one question: what type of fabric has been spilled on? Hardy, colourfast fabrics will involve the extra step of applying a solvent while delicate fabrics must go straight to the dry cleaner; do not pass go, do not collect $200 – as it were.
Items you’ll need to remove glue stains from clothes:
- A dull knife or scraping tool
- Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips
- Optional: Freezer
- Optional: A solvent (rubbing alcohol, colourless nail polish remover) and cotton swabs
How to remove glue from clothing:
Step 1: Allow the glue to air dry. Wiping (most) wet glues will only further distribute the adhesive into fibres.
Do not use a blow dryer; if the glue has any pigment to it at all, high temperature drying may permanently set the stain.
Optional: If needed or time permitting, freeze the item for an hour before moving to step 2.
Step 2: Use a dull knife or blunt tool to remove excess glue. Maneuver the tool in a lifting motion, rather than a scraping one.
The exception: removing liquid, white school glue from clothing
If you are dealing with a liquid, white school glue spill that is still wet, use a credit card or dull knife to lift the glue from the garment. Then, taking care to ensure you don’t transfer lingering glue to another part of the item, rinse with cold water while gently agitating the adhesive with your fingers. You should be able to rinse all of the glue off.
How to treat stains left behind by glue in four easy steps:
Step 1: (Optional): If any stubborn adhesive remains, and if the fabric type can stand it, consider applying a solvent like rubbing alcohol or colourless nail polish remover to help lift glue from the fibres.
Note: Always perform a test for colourfastness. How? Pick a small, obscure corner of the garment; apply the solvent with a cotton swab and lay it atop a paper towel. Wait a few minutes and then check to see if any dye has bled onto the paper towel.
If the item is proven colourfast, go ahead and apply the solvent to a new cotton swab and dab the glue stain. Starting at the outer edge, blot and clear away glue with a dry, clean cotton swab. Continue until the glue has been lifted entirely.
If dye has transferred to the paper towel, have the item treated by a professional dry cleaner.
Step 2: Pre-treat the stain. Use a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip to create a concentrated stain remover. First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing any residue from the fabric.
Step 3: Toss the item in the washer alongside a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip and select the item’s typical setting. For hand-wash-only items, tear the strip into pieces, place the bits in a sink or basin, and fill with tap-hot water. Allow it to soak, then agitate the article, rinse and hang dry.
Step 4: Hang dry. Do not resume machine-drying a stained item until you are finished treating it. Heat will only serve to set a stain deeper into the fabric.
Step 5: Inspect the site of the blemish. If needed, return to step two and repeat. If the stain persists, bring the item to a dry cleaner.