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MAKE reader John Mangan (siliconghost) wrote in to share a nifty simple trick with us: you can remove dried hot glue with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. He writes: “I literally stumbled on this while working with hot glue over 20 years ago at a previous job. It ended up being a ‘major discovery’ for how we conducted our ‘re-work’ on defective parts.” He made this video demonstration to share the knowledge. We also love how he has the cotton swap container attached to the alcohol bottle.

Goli Mohammadi

Goli Mohammadi

I’m a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

I was an editor for the first 40 volumes of MAKE. The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. Covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made.

Contact me at snowgoli (at) gmail (dot) com.


  • Bayne

    I picked up an old uke at a junk shop today that had hot glue on it…and now I can get it off without damaging it. Thanks John and Make!

    • undeded

      Awesome, this will be great for my salvaging parts from old electronics. I’ve torn up a few trying to use a screwdriver or some other sharp item. I’ll bet thousands of us will try this now and save a lot of electronics. Thanks for sharing your experience.
      Ed

  • TimLillis

    I use hot glue for so many things, great to know that we now have a control-z for glue! Thanks for sharing!

  • migpics

    I’ve used isopropyl alcohol for lots of stuff and this is now going on my list.
    My best find so far was you can use isopropyl alcohol for removing sharpies stains from suede couches. The stains made possible by my 3 year old!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Marcel

    This tells me two things:

    1) it’s easy to remove hot glue. Yay!

    2) don’t clean hot-glued projects with IPA

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Silverman

    Can we get Sean to explain the chemistry?

  • Alan

    This will be very handy. Thanks very much to John for coming up with it and Goli for publicizing it.

    I can take a crack at the chemistry: hot-melt glues are essentially just thermoplastics, so the IPrOH is probably breaking into the polymers and depolymerizing them. You’d only have to depolymerize the molecules right next to the surface for a few seconds to break the adhesive bond.

    And now my own IPrOH tip: take the lid off the bottle and carefully pierce a small hole through it with a hot pin. Put the lid back on, and you now have a handy squirt bottle that will let you drip or spray alcohol wherever you need it. It’s a lot quicker than opening and closing the bottle every time, and evaporative losses through the pinhole are essentially nil.

    • Goli Mohammadi

      Thanks for the science and the added tip, Alan!

  • Anna

    I want to hot glue some plastic horses onto a silver tray. I trust that the alcohol will dissolve the hot glue to get them off after my party, but will it ruin the silver?

  • Ron

    Ed, you’re the man! FANTASTIC!!!! My wife glued a rotating shark on the wheels for a school project and thought it was junk afterwards! Your trick is SO amazing!!!! Thanks a ton for sharing!!!!!

  • http://makezine.com Pam

    I spent hours trying to melt the glue with my hair dryer. This trick took me five minutes. Thanks so much.