Energy & Sustainability Science
How-To: Remove a rear-view mirror button

Awhile back, I wrote about co-opting the awesome glue used to mount rear-view mirrors for hobby projects. An interested reader e-mailed me a couple weeks later asking if I knew how to remove a rear-view mirror button from a windshield, which I didn’t. Several people have reported that trying to forcibly remove the metal button can actually break a divot of glass out of the windshield. I was therefore not optimistic, but we talked a little about the idea of using an organic solvent combined with sharp lateral pressure parallel to the glass. She experimented a bit, and, what do you know, eventually succeeded! Here’s her report:

We had some paint stripper in the house (BIX brand – not sure what is in it). I tried dipping a small artist’s brush into it, and then painting it all around the edges of the button (protecting my dashboard with some scrap cardboard). I left it for a while, then tried “whacking” the button using a metal-bladed putty knife as close to the plane of the windshield as I could get it, tapping it on the handle end with a hammer.

No luck. I tried the procedure again – still no luck.

Then I decided to try acetone. I soaked a cotton wad with regular acetone-based nail polish remover (which is what I had), and applied it all around the button edges. First try at whacking – no luck. Than I applied more remover, tried whacking again, and voila – the button popped off, and no harm done to the windshield!

Ambient temperature was about 75 degrees. I was going to try heating the button with a hair dryer if necessary, but it turned out I didn’t have to.

[Thanks, Zee!]


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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