How to Remove Super Glue

Removing Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

Super Glue is a fast-acting cyanoacrylate adhesive. Yet, it's possible to unstick it from anything using chemistry.
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Super Glue is a strong, fast-acting adhesive that sticks to just about anything almost instantly, so it's easy to accidentally stick together fingers or drip it onto clothes or surfaces. Even though it sets up quickly and won't wash off, you can remove it with acetone. Here's how:

Finding Acetone

Super Glue is a cyanoacrylate adhesive. It's impervious to water, but can be dissolved in an organic solvent, such as acetone. Some nail polish removers contain acetone, but be sure to check the label, since many acetone-free products are available and will not work against Super Glue. It's also possible to find pure acetone in stores that sell home supplies or art supplies because acetone is a useful solvent. If you view the Material Safety Data Sheet for acetone, you'll see it's flammable and toxic, so it's not a chemical you want to ingest or inhale. It is absorbed into the skin on contact. It dehydrates and de-fats skin, so wash any spill with soap and water and apply a moisturizer, if possible.

Using Acetone to Remove Super Glue

How you apply the acetone depends on what you stuck together with the glue. Do not apply acetone to eyes or lips, but don't worry -- it's still possible to remove Super Glue from these areas.

  • Removing Super Glue From​ Clothes
    Acetone will remove Super Glue from fabric, but it may discolor the material or alter its texture. Work acetone into the affected area from both sides. You can use a gloved finger or a soft-bristled toothbrush. The acetone will dissolve the glue and be rinsed away by still more acetone. Acetone evaporates quickly, but you'll still want to wash any fabrics that can withstand cleaning.
  • Removing Super Glue From​ Glass
    Super Glue does not bond very well to glass, so you can scrape it off. It may help to soak the affected area in water until the glue is loosened. Acetone won't harm glass, but shouldn't be necessary.
  • Removing Super Glue From Counters and Surfaces
    Acetone dissolves Super Glue on counters and surfaces, but expect it may harm varnish on wood, will 'cloud' some plastics, and may discolor some materials. Try to pry or scrape off the adhesive, using acetone as a last resort.
  • Remove Super Glue From Skin
    For fingers and most body parts, you can remove the adhesive by soaking the skin in warm water and then slowly peeling away the glue. You can use a fingernail, credit card, spoon, or pencil to help push the skin apart. Don't aggressively pull the stuck skin apart because your skin is more likely to tear than to detach from the glue using this method. If necessary, apply a small amount of acetone using a cotton swab. Since acetone is toxic, avoid using it if possible, and then only use the smallest amount needed to remove the glue.
  • If you stick together lips or eyelids or Super Glue gets stuck on an eyeball, it's best to contact a physician. Do not use acetone! The cyanoacrylate adhesive bonds instantly to moist areas, so it's nearly impossible to swallow liquid Super Glue or for it to travel far into the eyes. That's the good news. The bad news is, you'll basically have to wait for your cells to lift away the glue on their own.
  • Fortunately, eye and lip tissue regenerate very quickly, so the glue naturally detaches. If you get Super Glue on your eyeball or eyelids, you may wish to wear an eye patch or cover it with gauze. The glue naturally detaches from an eyeball after several hours. According to Super Glue Corporation, there are no known cases of permanent damage from this type of injury. It may take a couple of days to unstick eyelids or lips, although tears and saliva hasten the removal. People who have stuck their lips together tend to work at it with their tongue, but even if you leave the area alone, it will un-stick in 1-2 days.