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How To Clean Caulk from Glass

Home improvement can sometimes lead to spills or messes on other surfaces. One example of this is recaulking the tile and seams in the bathroom, and ending up with stray caulk on other surfaces. Another way you might find yourself having to deal with this mess is if you simply want to clean up errors in pre-existing handiwork.

There are are two main types of caulk: non-acrylic water based, and silicone. Each type has a method for removing it. Most household glass is fairly resistant to cleaning chemicals and to scratching. However, shower glass may be treated with materials that make it more susceptible to damage while cleaning. These instructions are created to minimize risk of damage to shower glass. Test all cleaning solutions and application techniques in an inconspicuous  location before using them in a wider area.

First, use a razor to remove large globs or chunks of caulk. Use a clean, wet sponge to keep the work area moist. Use the middle of the blade, and hold the blade as close to parallel with the shower glass surface as possible. Slide the sharp edge under a corner of the caulk streak, using the middle of the blade. Gradually slice and peel away the bulk of the stain in this manner, working slowly and methodically. Once most of the caulking has been removed, wet a clean sponge with rubbing alcohol to and blot the stain. After blotting, rub the non-acrylic water based caulk gently with the rubbing alcohol soaked sponge to help dislodge and remove it.

Tip: In order to avoid pulling out caulk that should remain in place, use the razor to pre-slice between the caulk to remove and the caulk that is to remain. This will allow you to pull up unwanted caulk without also pulling out the good caulk.

For silicone caulk, the gratification may not be quite as immediate. Many of the chemicals that would dissolve silicone on the chemical level are extremely toxic. There are a couple of tricks that can still help you cut back on elbow grease, however. Use a hairdryer to apply heat to the unwanted silicone. Heat causes the silicone to become brittle and weaken. Alternate applying heat with gradually cutting away the silicone using a razor, always keeping your personal health and safety in mind. Once there is minimal residue left, dampen a corner of a clean rag with mineral spirits and rub directly on the remaining silicone to help remove the last of the residue. Finish with a light overall cleaning of first sponging with a lightly sudsy solution of mild dish liquid and water, and then wiping the area with crumpled newspaper dampened with rubbing alcohol. This will help give the glass a great shine, as well as remove the mineral spirits.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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