8 Ways to Remove Epoxy Adhesive

gel adhesives being applied to a green surface

Epoxy adhesives and epoxy resins are versatile substances for bonding and attaching. However, knowing how to use epoxy properly is the key to preventing the adhesive from going where you don't want it and potentially causing messes and damage.

If you accidentally got some adhesive on yourself or on something else, there are many ways you can remove this bonding material. Your options range from a simple home remedies for separating epoxy to powerful adhesive removers.

The removal technique that will work best largely depends on what you used the epoxy for, but here are some guidelines you can follow.

Removing Epoxy Adhesive on Skin

1. Vinegar

You can use vinegar to remove cured epoxy adhesive from your skin. With a cloth, soak the area on your skin with the vinegar until you can see it begin to soften. Once it has softened, remove the adhesive.

TIP: This also works on uncured epoxy adhesive.

2. Acetone

Acetone is another simple, yet effective, solution. Just like vinegar, chances are you have acetone in your house without even realizing it. It’s the primary ingredient in both paint stripper and the nail polish remover. Another similarity with vinegar is that you can use acetone to remove residue on your skin. Simply apply some to cotton swab, and gently work the area until the epoxy is softened and can be peeled or rinsed off.

WARNING: Although it has almost the same effect as vinegar, acetone is flammable and may cause more harm than vinegar. Exercise caution with acetone and work in a well-ventilated space away from any flammable objects. Clean skin well and apply lotion to combat the drying effect left by acetone.

3. Citrus-Based Waterless Hand Cleaner

If you can find one, a citrus-based waterless hand cleaner can also do the job of removing fresh epoxy on your skin. Just rub the hand cleaner on the affected area and wash it thoroughly. This option might not necessarily be within arm’s reach in your cupboard, but one benefit is that citrus-based waterless cleaners aren’t as harsh one the skin as an option like acetone and are organic and safe to breathe in.

Removing Uncured Epoxy Adhesive

4. Isopropyl Alcohol

You can use isopropyl alcohol to remove any uncured epoxy adhesive. "Uncured" refers to the stage where the adhesive in the bonded materials are set aside to dry for 24 hours.

Since uncured adhesives are not yet fully cured or dried, you can also use acetone or alcohol to remove any uncured epoxy adhesives on a surface.

Removing Dried/Cured Epoxy Adhesive

5. Adhesive Remover

Removing dried epoxy adhesive requires a lot more than your ordinary kitchen solutions. In terms of effectiveness, the best way to get rid of cured epoxy is a specialized adhesive remover.

Unfortunately, adhesive removers can’t be used on the skin. Adhesive remover is only for use on surfaces of materials like wood or plastic.

6. Paint Thinner

You can also use a solution of paint thinner and denatured alcohol to remove any dried epoxy adhesive.

WARNING: It is important to remember that these solutions can be quite harmful, so exercise caution when you handle them.

7. Denatured Alcohol

Soak a rag with denatured alcohol and wipe it on the affected area. Denatured alcohol is more suitable for recently dried epoxy resin.

If the epoxy has started to cure, you need to use the paint thinner first to soften it up and then apply the alcohol as described above.

8. Heat Gun

heat gun

For tough residues, you can use a heat gun to soften the epoxy adhesive. It is ideal to heat the area up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Only heat a small area at a time to avoid causing any flames or burning the material. You can then use a scraper to scrape off the epoxy adhesive.

WARNING: Heat guns can get very hot. Exercise caution when operating them and with where you choose to aim them.