Whether you’re removing the old sealant from your aquarium or cleaning up spills during home improvement, the process of removing silicone from glass can be a pain. Get it wrong, and you’ll end up with damaged or scratched glass. Fortunately, with the right tools and materials, you can get rid of silicone easily.
Here’s how to remove silicone from glass:
- Clean the surface to remove dirt and dust.
- Apply a softening solvent to the silicone.
- Remove the silicone with a 1-in razor or steel wool.
- Lightly heat the surface if the silicone doesn’t come off.
- Wipe off the silicone residue with a microfiber cloth.
This process is pretty straightforward, and all you’ll need are tools like a razor, hand gloves, a hair dryer/heat gun, rubbing alcohol/mineral spirits, and a microfiber cloth. Read on to learn about these steps in detail.
1. Clean the Surface to Remove Dirt and Dust
Cleaning the surface is the first step to ensuring the successful removal of silicone on glass.
You don’t need a special glass cleaner to remove dust and dirt on the surface. All you need to do is pour some water into a spray bottle and add some liquid detergent or soap to create a simple cleaning solution.
That said, if you prefer a traditional glass-cleaning solution, I recommend using the Windex Vinegar Multi-Surface Spray from Amazon.com. This product effectively cleans a wide variety of glasses and leaves a fresh, ammonia-free scent on the surface. It’s also very affordable, which is one of the reasons why many people prefer it.
When choosing a commercial glass cleaner, check the label to ensure that it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals that can damage the surface.
As for the cleaning itself, a small damp cloth should be able to do the job. Spray the cleaning solution on the glass and wipe it down with the fabric.
However, if it doesn’t get rid of all the dirt, you may need a squeegee. A squeegee will be very handy if you’re removing silicone on a large surface area.
Here’s a video on how to use a squeegee to clean glass:
Be sure to clean all the affected surfaces and surrounding areas. Start from the top and work your way down to the bottom.
Abrasives can create a residue on the surface, so ensure you wipe everything clean with the cloth.
Once the area is clean, leave it for a few minutes to dry.
A silicone softening agent helps break down the silicone and loosen its adhesion with the glass, making it easier to remove.
Many products can work as a silicone remover, but one solution that works particularly well is mineral spirits. Mineral spirits contain petroleum distillation and are safer to use on glass. You can find it at your local home goods store.
Another safe option is rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, a colorless, flammable compound. The medicinal-grade version of isopropyl alcohol may not be strong enough to remove silicone from glass, so it’s better to get industrial-grade isopropyl alcohol (IPA) with 99% purity.
Some people also suggest using acetone. However, acetone is highly flammable, and a build-up can quickly become concentrated, so ensure the area is well-ventilated. Other silicone remover options are toluene and xylene, white vinegar, and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).
Whichever option you choose, ensure the product doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that can damage your glass.
To be safe, test the product on an inconspicuous part of the glass and check for any discolorations or reactions.
Spray only a small amount of the product on the affected area to avoid damaging the glass. You may also soak a rag in the solvent and leave it on the surface.
Leave it on for the time recommended on the product label (usually about five to ten minutes) before moving to the next step.
Once the silicone has softened, the next step is to scrape it with a razor blade. It’s best to use a new and straight 1-inch (25-mm) razor to avoid scratching and damaging the glass.
A razor like the WEUPE Razor Blade Scraper Tool from Amazon fits perfectly for this purpose. It s versatile, safe to use on glass, sharp, and comes with five blades.
To remove the softened silicone, place the razor as close to the underlying silicon layer as possible and carefully slide the sharp edge under it. If the silicone is too thick to remove at once, you can slice through it layer by layer.
When removing the silicone, be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid etching the glass surface. If it proves too difficult to remove, you may need to use another coat of silicone solvent to soften it.
Depending on the type of glass, you may also use a pocket knife or utility knife to remove the silicone. If you’re dealing with glass that’s more prone to scratching, it’s best to use steel wool or a wire brush. This method may require a little bit of elbow grease, but it won’t leave any marks on the glass.
Sandpaper is more likely to scratch the surface, so it’s best to avoid using it.
If you can’t remove the silicone with the razor blade or steel wool, you’ll need to apply some heat to the surface. Heating the silicone helps to weaken it further and make it brittle.
You can heat the affected surface with either a hairdryer or heat gun. Ideally, you want to set the device to low to medium heat and point the nozzle directly on the area.
Too much heat can damage the glass, so you should not apply it for more than two minutes. When you’re satisfied with the softness of the silicone, use the razor to remove the remaining material.
After scraping off the silicone, you’re usually left with some residue. The best way to remove this leftover material is by applying some rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits on it and wiping it off with a microfiber cloth.
You can also soak a sponge in the solution and gently scrub off the residue. If all the material doesn’t come away, you may need to heat the surface again and scrape it off with the razor. When you’ve completely removed the residue, and the surface is smooth, you can do a final cleaning with warm water and liquid soap.
Finally, rinse it with clean water and allow it to dry.
You may also like: How to Remove Silicone From Plastic
As with any process that involves chemicals, solvents, and sharp objects, your safety should be a priority. Below are a few safety tips you should consider:
- Wear hand gloves to minimize potential skin damage in case of contact with chemicals.
- Ensure the area is well-ventilated before starting the silicone removal process.
- Although you’re unlikely to cause a fire, be prepared to fight it by having a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Avoid mixing chemicals, solvents, or cleaning agents.
- Contact a professional if you’re not sure how to properly carry out the process.
As you’ve seen in the article, the process of removing silicone from glass is relatively easy if you follow all the instructions carefully. Using the right tools also helps you avoid causing more damage to your glass.
Be sure to put on protective hand gloves and carry out the process in a ventilated space. If something goes wrong or you’re not very handy, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to do the job.