Caulk is one of the most popular household sealants. While caulking, it is sometimes inevitable not to get some caulk on your hands or skin.
You do not need to panic when this happens, as there are several easy ways to get caulk off your hands and skin. They require basic things you have in your home; keep reading to know what you can do.
How to Get Caulk Off Hands
You can get caulk off your hands by adding rubbing alcohol or acetone to your hands using a paper towel, then gently dab on the affected area until the caulk starts to come off. Afterward, wash hands with soap and water to remove the acetone and caulk.
What is Caulk Made of, and is it Harmful to the Skin?
For a substance used as a watertight seal capable of filling cracks found on almost any surface, it is no surprise that caulk is made of some complex chemicals. These chemicals are called Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).
PCBs are synthetic compounds with no known natural source. PCBs do not break down when released into the environment, nor do they when they come in contact with the skin.
This is one of the reasons why even the environmental control agency stated that the level of outdoor caulking for wood should be embraced more than it’s used indoors.
So even though caulk is a mild irritant, you should still rinse it off immediately after it comes in contact with your hands or skin, as leaving it for a long while can be harmful.
How to Get Silicone Caulk Off Hands
Getting caulk off your hands is not that difficult, even though it is chemically formulated as a sealant. Latex caulk is a better option as it is more skin-friendly.
However, this article will focus more on removing silicone caulk from your hands and skin as it is the most commonly used kind of caulk in the home.
Methods to be employed differ depending on the state of the silicone caulk, whether it has dried or is still wet.
How to Get Wet Silicone Caulk Off Hands
Wet caulk is easier to remove. It will save you time spent repeatedly scrubbing and rubbing your hands and the stress of looking for alternative methods.
You can get wet silicone caulk off your hands in these two ways: using a plastic bag or oil.
Method 1: Use Plastic Bag
Surprisingly rubbing your hands with a cheap plastic grocery bag you get from a store helps eliminate caulk from your hands. It works because caulk would stick to the plastic bag, which helps transfer the stain.
The tools and materials needed are:
- Plastic bag
- Paper towel
How to get caulk off hands step-by-step:
Step 1: The first thing you should do once you get caulk on your hands is to wipe it away using a paper towel.
Step 2: Get a plastic bag and use it to rub your hands in a rubbing motion for about 1-2 minutes, the same way you would with a washcloth.
Step 3: Using a skin-friendly soap and water, wash your hands to remove any residue from the caulk before it dries.
- Remember to discard the tissue paper and plastic bag once you are done immediately so you do not spread caulk to other parts of your skin.
- Be careful while rubbing, so you do not bruise your hands.
- A fabric towel is not an alternative to a paper towel or tissue in this regard; it could ruin it.
Method 2: Use Oil or Butter
This method is also effective when you get uncured caulk on your hands or skin. It could be preferred when you have caulk on your skin as oil and butter are not only mild but are oil-based, making them suitable for softening caulk.
Tools and materials needed:
- Oil or Butter
- Laundry detergent or baking soda
- Warm water
How to do this step-by-step:
Step 1: Get some oil from a bottle of WD-40 or conventional cooking oil. When oil is unavailable, you can use butter used as spreads or for cooking.
Step 2: Rub it into your skin or hands after applying the areas with silicone caulk.
Step 3: Use a powdered laundry detergent as soap to wash your hands. You can also apply baking soda to serve as a scrub.
Step 4: Use warm water to rinse your hands to remove the caulk grease and oil.
How to Remove Dried Silicone Caulk from your Hands and Skin
This requires more than just soap and water as dried caulk is quite stubborn to remove. Remember, you should not let the silicone get to this stage before you try to get it off, but in the event it does, do not worry; here are some things you can do:
Method 1: Using acetone or any other mineral spirits
This is probably the first remedy you saw online on how to remove dried silicone. Acetone is present in most bottles of nail polish remover; ensure you check before using it.
Alternatively, you can use your isopropyl alcohol in your first aid box.
Tools and materials needed:
- Paper towel
- A bottle of acetone or rubbing alcohol.
How to do this in steps:
Step 1: Soak a part of the paper towel in pure acetone or rubbing alcohol.
Step 2: Gently use this to wipe the stained areas on your hands
Step 3: Do not forget to rinse your hands after using this chemical
Note: Do not pour acetone all over your hands; be careful while using it because of its poisonous fumes.
Method 2: Using a hairdryer
When you want to dry caulk, applying heat is not advised as it weakens and melts caulk. This is why using a hairdryer, a source of warm air, is a smart way to remove caulk.
Tools and materials needed:
- A hairdryer
How to do this:
Step 1: You want to start using the hair dryer at the lowest setting possible.
Step 2: Gradually increase the heat and be careful not to burn your skin while at it.
Step 3: Once the silicone is melting, stop using the dryer and get a sponge.
Step 4: Use the sponge to gently scrub your hands or the area of your skin with caulk to peel it off.
Method 3: Using an abrasive
There are many options to use as abrasives when removing caulk but be careful to use only mild ones that will not tear up your skin.
Tools and materials:
- Kitchen sponges
- Pumice stones
- Fine-grit sandpaper.
There are no steps; all you have to do is rub your preferred choice of abrasive all over the areas you want to get caulk off till it starts to fall off on its own.
However, be careful, especially when using harsh ones like sandpaper, so you do not hurt yourself. Also, know when to stop rubbing before you get sore.
Now that you know how to get caulk off hands, read our guide to learn how to get poly off your hands.
Silicone Caulk Cleanup: Mistakes to Avoid while getting Caulk off
Now while you are desperate to clean up silicone caulk off your skin or hands, be careful not to make the following mistakes:
1. Using a sharp tool to scrape caulk off your hands
Remember, you are dealing with your hands and not a surface, so resist the urge to get a knife or any sharp tool that can be used to scrape it off, especially when it is almost cured. Go for a mild abrasive instead; avoid hurting yourself.
2. Using harsh solvents
Bleaches, strong acids, paint thinners, or any strong chemical on your shelf are not alternatives to acetone or mineral spirits. These would not only remove the caulk but might also remove some part of your skin, damaging it.
3. Drying your hands with a fabric towel
Caulk sticks worse on fabrics than even the skin. So if you still have use for your fabric towel or cloth, do not make use of one to dry your hands even after you think you have washed all the caulk off.
4. Acting too late
Do not wait till the caulk has fully cured on your skin before you begin to look for remedies to remove it.
How Can You Avoid Getting Caulk on your Hands and Skin?
Although the above remedies and methods come highly recommended, here are simple precautions you can take before and while caulking:
1. Wear gloves
Since you would use your hands to apply the caulk, it is prone to getting stained. So ensure you put on a pair of gloves before touching a caulk gun, so you do not have your hands covered in it.
2. Wear clothes with long sleeves while caulking
If you do not want caulk stains on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin, do not wear tank tops or clothes exposing most of your skin. Preferably, put on clothes you would not mind getting rid of if they get ruined by caulk.
3. Wear goggles
The last place you want caulk getting into is your eyes. So if you know, you will be applying caulk above you, put on a pair of goggles or work glasses to protect your eyes.
Best Commercial Caulk Remover
If you are looking for a more effective way than using paper towels to wipe caulk stains off your hands, you should get a canister of Tub O’ Towels Heavy Duty Cleaning Wipes.
This comes in 40 7” x 8” wipes soaked in the right amount of solutions to keep them moist. It removes stickers, adhesives, grease, and other stubborn stains.
These wipes are gentle on hand and skin as they contain Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, making them a good option for removing caulk from hands.
Learn more here: How Long Does Caulk Take to Dry Before Showering/Painting
Is silicone caulk safe on skin?
No, silicone caulk is unsafe on the skin as it has internal and external toxic effects. It could cause physical irritations, damaging or even tearing the skin and drying it out. Also, it can absorb through the skin into the body if left for a long time.
How to clean silicone off hands
You can clean Silicone sealant off your hands by using nail polish removers or mineral spirits, rubbing with a plastic bag, mild abrasives, and washing your hands with soap and warm water. You can also apply heat using a hairdryer if the silicone is almost cured on your hands.
Additional Resource: How to Remove Caulk from Windows
Removing dried caulk off your hands or skin is not particularly difficult, especially if you spring into action immediately while it is still wet.
So before you start the process of caulking, ensure you are prepared and have all the supplies for caulk removal you might need in case you get some on your hands or skin.
Do not forget to protect your hands and skin before you carry out your home improvement tasks.