How To Remove Contact Cement From Any Surface: 3 Easy Ways

Contact cement is a very reliable product many people use in their home repair projects. It is extremely versatile, and people rely on its strength, durability, and incredible adhesive power it provides.

However, if you mess up, it can be hard to remove, especially on sensitive surfaces. In this guide, we will address the best methods and products to remove contact cement so that no traces are left, and the surface remains untouched.

When it comes to removing such a strong adhesive, it is important to remove it efficiently without damaging the surface it has stained. Continue reading to find out how!

How to remove contact cement from all surfaces?

As we’ve explained, contact cement dries very quickly and you have to be extremely precise when working with it. However, you cannot always prevent it from spilling or dripping as you’re too concerned with positioning the surfaces you’re gluing together.

In order to avoid a bigger mess, it is always advised to use old cloths, rugs, or newspaper sheets to protect the surface you’re working on. When it comes to contact cement stains, it is always easier to prevent them than to remove them.

However, with the methods we’re about to explain, you don’t have to worry about removing contact cement, or damaging the stained surface. While contact cement is a permanent solution, the stains it leaves don’t have to be, as long as you use adequate products.

1. Dissolve contact cement

In case you’re trying to separate the surfaces you’ve glued together using contact cement, as we’ve mentioned, this will be quite hard to do if you’re looking to avoid damage. Contact cement is a very powerful, permanent glue that creates a strong bond. 

However, you can do so by using a source of heat and applying force to the bond. The source of heat is usually a heat gun that you can use to melt the glue, and then work your way through the glue using a putty knife.

In case you’re not using this method on heavy-duty materials and you need it for fabric or leather, the process will be much easier. Instead of a heat gun, you can simply use a hairdryer to melt the glue and then pull the materials apart to separate them. 

However, if you’re trying to remove contact cement stains from different surfaces, this method won’t do the trick in most cases. Here’s what you need to do to clean up the mess you’ve made with contact cement.

2. Removing contact cement from hard surfaces

One of the best ways to remove contact cement residue quickly and efficiently is using a contact cement solvent. The ingredients of the solvent should match the ingredients of the contact cement you’ve used, but you can always purchase a universal solvent at a hardware store.

Apply the solvent onto the stained surface, soaking the cement residue. Keep in mind that, even though the solvent is quite powerful, it won’t damage your hard surfaces. Plastic, on the other hand, could be an issue, so make sure not to go overboard with the solvent. 

After some time, the solvent should soften the contact cement residue, making it easier for you to scrape or wipe it off, depending on how thick the layer was. If you want to remove contact cement from wood or concrete, use a wire brush or paint scraper.

More sensitive surfaces, on the other hand, including fabric and leather, will require a more delicate approach to avoid any damages. In this case, you want to scrape off the residue using a toothbrush and apply as little pressure as possible. 

In case you’re unable to apply many solvents to protect the surface, or the stain is quite thick, this process will take some time and effort. However, once the glue has softened, it should be quite easy to scrape or pull off the surface you’re working on. 

Once you’ve finished with this process, you want to wipe the surface clean using a cloth with a little bit of contact cement solvent. Sometimes, if you’re dealing with woodworking, you may need to sand it to get it back to its previous state.

As for rubber and leather, all you need to do after using contact cement cleaner to remove the residue is go over it with 100-grit sandpaper, or an abrasive scrubber – depending on the state it is in after you remove the residue. 

3. Remove contact cement from soft surfaces

Sometimes, when it comes to removing contact cement from soft surfaces, you won’t even need a contact cement remover, to begin with. In these cases, you’ll be able to remove the contact cement residue by plucking it either with your hands or a pair of pliers.

In case you’re not using some kind of remover or solvent, it is always a good idea to apply some heat onto the area and let the glue dissolve a bit before starting to pull the residue off. You can use either a heat gun or a hairdryer, depending on the size of the stain. 

If you’re unable to remove the cement this way, you may need to resort to a solvent. For cleaning soft surfaces, it is advised to use a commercial dry cleaning solvent, which performs great when applied to a small sponge.

A small sponge will allow you to pinpoint the stain and apply just enough solvent to remove the stain, without soaking and damaging the stained surface. In addition to soaking the stain, you can also use circular motions to help the residue dissolve.

However, the problem with removing contact cement residue is that it is often easily removed, but you will be left with a stain on your soft surface. In this case, it is necessary to apply a stain remover to this area to recover the surface. 

In case you don’t have a stain remover, or you prefer DIY solutions, you can make your own stain remover by mixing one cup of isopropyl alcohol and half a teaspoon of mineral oil. Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl to get your own stain cleaning solution. 

Drench a paper towel with this solution, and apply it directly onto the stain, making sure there is enough solution to cover it completely. If you’re dealing with a stubborn stain, you may have to repeat this process a few times. 

Once you’ve removed the stain, clean the surface using cold water and allow the surface to dry completely. If there’s still some residue left, you may need to repeat all of the steps until you’ve removed the residue entirely. 

How to make your own contact cement solvent

In case you haven’t been able to find a good contact cement cleaner, or the one you have hasn’t worked for you, you can always resort to DIY variations. It is possible to create a highly efficient solvent at home, as long as you use the right ingredients.

For a homemade contact cement cleaner, you’ll need:

  • ¼ clear liquid detergent
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup glycerin.

Combine all of the listed ingredients in a capped bottle. Make sure to mix all the ingredients well before applying the solution to the residue. Apply the solution using a soft-bristled brush and circular motions to remove contact cement from the laminate or any other area. 

Keep in mind that this solution has a strong odor, and the chemicals could cause skin irritation, so you should keep your hands and eyes protected, and wear a mask. Also, it is necessary to work in a well-ventilated room to limit exposure to dangerous fumes. 

How do you clean brushes after contact cement?

Contact cement is a strong rubbery glue and it will persist on all materials, including the brushes you work with. However, it can be removed from your brushes, even if it has dried completely. 

The first thing you can do is use a source of heat, such as a heat gun or a hairdryer, and apply the heat directly onto the remaining contact cement. This step should melt it and make it much easier for you to remove it.

Remember not to apply any heat on the brush if you’ve dampened it with any kind of solvent. Also, in order to protect yourself from toxic fumes, make sure to wear a mask, and also to wear protective equipment to protect your skin. 

Pluck the contact cement off of the brush using your hands or a cuticle pusher, depending on how much residue there is. Once you’ve removed the residue, wash the brush with hot water and liquid detergent. 

Another thing you can do that excludes heat is soak the brushes in a solvent such as toluene for about an hour. After an hour, remove the brushes and start removing the residue. You may have to repeat this step a few times depending on how thick the cement layer is.

Is contact cement easy to remove?

Removing contact cement can be really hard, especially from delicate surfaces. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a very strong, rubbery glue that is supposed to create a permanent bond. 

However, with the techniques we’ve mentioned, contact cement can be removed. Depending on how thick and strong the residue is, it may take some time, but as long as you follow our guides step by step, you can remove it and the surface won’t be damaged. 

Before deciding to use it for your DIY projects, make sure you’ve planned everything accordingly, as there is hardly any way to break the bond it creates (unless you opt for more invasive methods that will certainly damage the surfaces).

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