Remove Super Glue from Hands and Objects

I have bad luck with super glue, and when I don't stick to my vow to avoid it, I usually end up needing to remove it. Perhaps my most infamous incident was the time I glued my teeth together, but I'd say the time I got it on my eyeglasses lens was the worst. Here are my findings so far when it comes to removing super glue (krazy glue.. instant glue.. whatever) from my skin, glass, and anywhere else I didn't mean to get it.

Super glue on skin

The good news about super glue on skin is it's going to come off. It might take an hour before your fingers come apart and two days before it's entirely gone, but it will come off naturally on its own. Lightly working your fingers back and forth, or rubbing the glue that's dried on your skin, will speed things up a bit. The glue can be slightly painful while it's drying, but once it's there leaving it there for a while is better for you than pulling off your own skin trying to get it off.

If you can't wait, there are plenty of ways to speed things up. The most effective is acetone. Acetone is most easily found as a component in nail polish remover, but not all nail polish removers. Read the label. Finally, be sensible about where you use the nail polish remover... don't get it in your eyes.

Somewhere in the middle between waiting and acetone is simple soap and water. Wash the area with dish or hand soap four or five times over the course of an hour, and you'll feel it loosening. Another option is applying hand lotion over the spot, then wiping it away and washing your hands. In both cases, I think it's more a matter of helping your skin shed its top layer than the product doing anything to the actual super glue, but it does help.

Object safety

First, how important is your item? There are special products made specifically for removing super glue out there, which I've never tried. If your object is very important to you and can't take the slightest scratch, be very very careful when considering the below ideas. If none of it looks hopeful, you might want to go order some super-glue remover.

Super glue on glass

Super glue creates an awful white film on glass which is the downfall of many a well-intentioned crafter. First, if there's a large buildup of glue on the piece of glass, you can carefully pry it away with a razor--be careful not to scratch the glass, though. The next step is acetone (in some nail polish removers). It damages wood and removes the color from most things, but is fine if you are just working with glass. It will remove the backing from most modern mirrors if it gets behind it. If you can't use acetone, you can try using dish soap and water, but you're probably going to be out of luck at fully removing the white film.

Next comes lots of rubbing. Use a q-tip or soft cloth to lightly rub the nail polish remover on the glass. Occasionally rinse the glass clean, and rub the glass for a while while it's dry. Be extra careful if you're removing tiny bits of jagged super glue. They'll displace a couple inches then start to scratch the glass. If the glass is smooth, after a couple hours of rubbing and acetone the film should fade (depending on your luck). Rough glass, however, might never be fully clear--the saving grace here is that rough glass is rarely fully clear in the first place.

Super glue on fabric

Super glue on fabric is a hard one. A razor or just some picking with your fingernails will remove the jagged bits of glue above the fabrics surface. After that, the fabric will be stiff and discolored. Some fabric is okay for applying an acetone finger nail polish remover, but a lot of it isn't. Test carefully in an inconspicous spot. If this was a delicate silk, you probably will want to just give up. If this was an old pair of jeans, though, throw them in the washing machine. Then throw them in the washing machine the next time you do laundry too. After about 10 or 20 washes, the spot will be much more supple, though never quite right.

Super glue on furniture

Too much acetone will take the finish off of some wood furniture, creating a dull spot. It's fine for glass or true metals, though you should test first. You can carefully start with a razor and finish by rubbing with a cloth to remove most of the super glue, which is good enough in most situations. I've heard Goof-off can help, but I'm not sure if you can use that on delicate wood furniture either. If you're desperate, you can resort to refinishing the whole piece.