Silicone is one of the most versatile sealants used in most homes. And while it’s effective in sealing and gluing together home appliances and other essential items, it’s hard to remove from surfaces, especially plastics. So, let’s find out how you can safely remove silicone from plastic.
To remove silicone from plastic, scrape off the outer layers with a knife. Then, apply a plastic-friendly silicone remover or nail polish remover to soften the remaining substance for easy peel-off. Use gentle scouring for more stubborn bits. But remember that harsh detergents and hot air blowers are always a no-no.
In this article, you’ll learn several methods and materials to remove silicone from plastic. I’ve also compiled some pro and safety tips to make your
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Practical Ideas on How to Remove Silicone From Plastic
Typically, removing silicone from plastic is tricky compared to other surfaces such as metal and tiles. This complexity comes in because most plastic surfaces are delicate and will most likely get damaged with harsh silicone removal methods.
You don’t want to scratch your plastic surface, burn it or cause permanent discoloration and bleach, right? So, you need to be extra cautious of the method and chemicals you choose.
Here are some options to get rid of silicone from plastics:
Using Silicone Sealant Remover
One of the easiest ways to get rid of silicone from plastic is using silicone sealant removers. Here is how you go about it:
- First, try peeling off as much silicone as you can using a handy remover tool such as a utility knife. Once you’ve reached the limit, apply a silicone sealant remover. Ensure the remover is suitable on plastics by reading through its description and warnings. Then, follow all the manufacturer’s instructions to apply it.
- After application, leave the remover for a few hours, so it can do its job. It works by making the silicone swell which weakens its bond with the plastic surface. So, once you notice the swollen sealant, it’s time to get rid of it.
- Now, carefully scrape off the adhesive material from the surface, taking care not to scratch the plastic.
- If you’re content with the results, clean the surface using a scouring pad. Have it in mind that harsh cleaning products can damage plastic, so go for gentle options.
- If more stubborn silicone bits remain on the surface, apply more remover and continue scraping the silicone off until you’re satisfied with the outcome.
Remember, this task can be painstaking. So, be ready to repeat the procedure a few times, depending on how strong the silicone is attached to the plastic surface.
Using Softening Solvents
Softening solvents work to soften cured silicone. You can use them as a substitute for store-bought silicone sealant remover.
Many softening solvents are available in the market, but not all are suitable for plastics. So, it’s advisable to check on the packaging instructions first. A gentle solvent like isopropyl alcohol is usually ideal.
Note that the regular alcohol you may have in your house may not be strong enough to soften the silicone. So, go for industrial-grade alcohol with at least 99% alcohol content, instead.
You can also use white vinegar as a softening solvent, but it may not be as effective as isopropyl alcohol.
In the absence of alcohol and white vinegar, you can also use the standard nail polish remover.
The application procedure for these softening solvents is similar to that of silicone sealant remover.
- First, remove as much cured silicone as possible using a knife or any other handy remover tool.
- Now apply the softening solvent and leave it a few hours to perform its magic on the silicone.
- Once the silicone starts to swell, scrape it off and clean the surface to assess the effectiveness.
- Continue applying the softening solvent until you achieve the desired results. You can also cover the area with a towel soaked in the softening solvent for increased efficiency.
- Once you’re left with only the stubborn remnants, wash them off using a gentle scouring powder and water to remove any silicone traces.
If you’re unsure the softening solvent is suitable for the specific plastic, test it on a small hidden part of the surface before applying it on a large scale. This reduces the extent of potential damage.
Remember that cured silicone sealant may be notoriously difficult to remove. Therefore, you should exercise patience when undertaking this task.
Things to Keep in Mind When Removing Silicone From Plastic
Before removing silicone from plastic surfaces, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Avoid any heat-related method such as using a hairdryer or a hot air gun — plastic surfaces can easily burn from excess heat exposure.
- Always counter-check the silicone remover and softening solvents you intend to use. Every chemical should be plastic-friendly.
- Read all the instructions and caution labels on the product packages and follow them to the letter.
- Safety first: Wear protective gloves to keep your hands safe from harsh chemicals. Also, ensure the area is well ventilated.
- Although commonly available as softening solvents, avoid using methylated spirits, toluene, and xylene when removing silicone from plastic surfaces.
- Don’t use harsh detergents when cleaning off silicone remnants. Harsh cleaning and scouring products can bleach the plastic or cause fading.
- When scraping off silicone using a knife or any other removal tool, don’t go too close to the plastic substrate to avoid scratching or cutting it.
Silicone stains on plastic surfaces can be a nuisance, not to mention the headache you get when removing old silicone sealant.
However, you can seamlessly remove silicone from plastic using silicone sealant removal or softening solvents. And although it calls for a little patience, with the right materials and procedure, the results are rewarding.
Be sure to avoid harsh chemicals such as methylated spirits and xylene. You should also avoid using heat and strong scouring agents.
I hope these silicone removal tips will help you deal with stubborn silicone stains and sealants on your plastic surfaces.