Super Glue® (cyanoacrylate) can be terrific for use in many applications. It may help rescue many broken items because of its superior bonding ability. However, there is one significant problem with the product. If it gets on any unintended surface like skin, a kitchen counter or fabrics, it’s awfully hard to remove. Fortunately, there are several ways to remove Super Glue®.
One of the most commonly recommended methods to remove Super Glue® is to use acetone, and the easiest way to get acetone is to have some fingernail polish handy. There are some products marketed specifically to remove Super Glue®, but many of these simply charge more for ingredients similar to those in nail polish removers. Acetone can be safely used on small areas of skin, though if glue on the skin is widespread, it may be better to consult a doctor on safe removal. The chemical should not be used near the eyes or on the lips, and people should see a doctor if they get glue in the eyes.
When skin is glued together, it’s important not to try to remove Super Glue® by pulling the skin apart. This has the potential to cut or rip skin, which can be very painful. If acetone causes irritation, using soap and water and soaking the area that is glued is normally the best method for removal. Once the area has been thoroughly soaked, try to gently pry apart the stuck skin, but don’t rip it apart if the skin still seems tightly bonded.
Acetone does have some drawbacks though and may harm plastic and stain fabrics. When there is concern that taking off cyanoacrylate with acetone could cause permanent damage, a few other methods can be tried. First if the glue is on fabric and is still wet, it should be blotted with a cotton towel. Blotting works better than wiping because wiping will spread the glue to a larger surface.
Once blotting has removed excess glue, the fabric can be hand washed in warm soapy water, which may break up some of the glue. Allow the fabric to dry and then scrape off glue with sandpaper. The scraping method can also work on hard surfaces that won’t be destroyed by a little sanding, and it can employed on plastic surfaces, though this might scratch plastic slightly. Another recommendation to remove Super Glue® on plastic is to use a sharp knife or scalpel instrument to pick off the dried glue. Obviously care should be taken to avoid cutting the fingers when trying this.