Silicone can be fiddly and frustrating to remove, but it is a job that needs to be done. Over time, it starts to lose its effectiveness, and needs to be removed and replaced so that you are able to keep your shower nice and secure.
Silicone removal is about more than just the shower though; it’s good to know how you can get it off your hands and clothing (since it tends to stick).
We answer every burning question you have about silicone removal, even how to remove mouldy silicone, as well as why you should be doing it in the first place. Time to get to work fixing up your shower.
Why Do We Need to Remove the Old Silicone?
Silicone doesn’t last forever, and it will need to be replaced so that it can keep working to protect your walls and tiles. Over time, it starts to lose that adhesive stick, and it may even become damaged or have mould growth that you can’t get rid of.
Mould is especially tricky because it can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing, which means it should be tackled as quickly as possible. Even if none of this is true, you should be removing and replacing the sealant every year or two to ensure that it remains strong and watertight.
How to Remove Silicone from Your Shower
The best method for removing silicone sealant from your shower is the old-fashioned way; with your hands and a few tools. To get started, you are going to need the following:
Once you have all of these, you can follow the steps below to successfully remove the silicone sealant from your shower. Remember to put your gloves and safety glasses on before you begin.
Use the Staley knife to cut away the old sealant. Make sure you are as gentle as possible while you do so, as this will ensure you do not damage the wall or surrounding area. You don’t need to worry about getting every little scrap, just focus on the bulk of the sealant.
At this point, you will be likely to be left with some silicone strands. A lot of the time, this can be removed with your hands, using a chisel/scraper, or rubbing it with a cloth dipped in white spirit. It can take a little while, but it is important all of the sealant is removed so that you can reapply it smoothly.
Make sure you also remove the residue from the silicone as well so that the entire area is nice and clear. Now that everything has been removed, you can apply the new silicone sealant to the area. We have a great guide on that for you as well.
Further Reading: Silicone and Caulk Guide
How to Remove Silicone from Your Hands
There are a few ways you can remove silicone from your hands, and it is important to do it quickly because it can be really tough to remove once it dries.
Plus, it can irritate the skin if you are quite sensitive, which is partly why gloves are so highly recommended. Each of the tips below contains a series of detailed steps to help you get it right the first time.
Method One: The Plastic Bag
#1 Remove as much of the silicone as you can before it dries, either by washing your hands or wiping them with paper towels. Do not use a fabric towel because the silicone will be difficult to get out once it dries. The more you can get off while it’s wet, the easier it will be to ensure they are completely clean.
#2 Grab a plastic bag from the supermarket and use it in the same way you would a cloth. This is because the silicone will be more attracted to sticking to the plastic than your hands, and so it will draw the excess away from you.
#3 Rinse your hands with water once you have used the plastic bag to remove any remaining silicone from them. Then, dry your hands and repeat the method if you need to. This can be done as many times as you need, but if you act fast, you will only have to do it once.
Also Read: Remove Mould from Shower
Method Two: Nail Polish Remover (Acetone)
#1 Remove as much of the silicone with a paper towel before it has a chance to dry, maximising your chances of getting rid of everything in one go. Silicone does tend to dry faster on hands because the amount is much smaller, so time is of the essence.
#2 Once the large chunks have been removed, wash your hands with soap and water to soften the remaining silicone so that it is a little easier to remove in the next step.
#3 take some cotton pads, or kitchen roll, and apply the nail varnish remover (which contains acetone) liberally. Rub it all over your hands so that they are nice and damp, and wait for the remover to start taking effect. Once it does, use a paper towel to vigorously scrub the areas so that all of the silicone is removed.
#4 When this is finished, wash your hands with soap and warm water before drying them. Apply moisturiser to your hands to prevent them from drying out, and then check to see if you need to repeat the process.
You should only go through it again once to prevent your skin from cracking, and if it still does not work wait for the silicone to come off naturally.
How to Remove Silicone from Your Clothes
There really isn’t much worse than your clothes getting covered in silicone, because it’s really difficult to handle when it dries, and fabrics can be a nightmare.
This is why it is usually recommended that you wear old clothes you don’t care about when using silicone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t want them to be clean again. Have a look at our methods, and the steps that come with them.
Method One: Freezing
#1 Place the clothing in a bag and then put it in the freezer for a few hours, causing the silicone to become incredibly hard. The biggest and lumpiest part of the stain should peel off once you take it out of the freezer, and you can do this with your hands.
#2 Grab a pair of scissors and use them to scrape off the remaining areas of the stain. You can also use a butter knife to do this, but make sure your chosen tool isn’t too sharp so that you don’t accidentally tear the fabric.
#3 Once this is done, take some rubbing alcohol and scrub the affected area to remove the stain and leave it looking fresh again. You can also use a stronger cleaning agent if you feel the stain needs it. The process can be repeated if some of the silicone remains.
Method Two: Blotting
#1 This method is best if the stain has not yet had the chance to dry, and if this is the case throw it in the washing machine with your usual detergent and let it run on a regular setting. For white clothing, you can add a little bleach to the mix. If the stain is quite fresh, you might find that this step is the only one you need to take.
#2 If the washing cycle was not quite enough, take a cloth and dampen it with warm water. Press it firmly against the stain to let the water sink in and dab it repeatedly to get as much of the silicone off as possible.
#3 When a good chunk of excess silicone has been removed, use a clean cloth and some rubbing alcohol to work out the remainder of the stain. You should blot it liberally and leave it to soak in, repeating as many times as needed until the stain is practically gone.
#4 For the final step, put the clothing into the washing machine and run it through on the usual setting. It may need to be washed a few times in order to remove it, and you should not place it in a dryer as this can cause any remaining stain to fully set and harden.
Method Three: Chemicals
You can also use chemical stain removers that you find in the supermarket to get rid of silicone stains. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the label to remove the silicone stains. Just remember to test it on some old clothing first to ensure it won’t damage your garment.
Method Four: Baking Powder
#1 Wet the stain with water and leave it to soak for a moment. Then, pour the baking soda onto the area.
#2 Take a cloth and massage the baking powder into the stain so that it can absorb everything. Repeat the process as needed until the stain is completely (or at least mostly) gone.
#3 Put the clothing in the washing machine and run on a regular cycle to rinse the clothing out. Leave it to dry naturally and then check to see if the stain is gone.
Can You use Acetone to Remove Silicone?
In short, you can use acetone to remove silicone sealant, but it is not always advised. It does a fantastic job at dissolving the silicone, making the job pretty quick and easy when compared to other methods.
However, the solution is so powerful that it can actually melt some plastics so you should test it on a hidden area first. It can also damage the seals on drains, so you should speak to an expert before you decide to use it in your shower.
What will dissolve silicone?
Vinegar and isopropyl alcohol will work well to dissolve silicone. The best way to remove silicone caulk short of using a digestant is to treat it with a silicone sealant remover, WD-40, vinegar or alcohol, wait for it to soften and then attack it with a knife or paint scraper.
Hopefully, this has helped you to figure out the best way to remove the silicone sealant from your shower. What about replacing it though?
It may feel like it is missing in this guide, but we actually have an entire one dedicated to the application process that you can check out. We’re dedicated to making your bathroom renovations a massive success, so no matter your needs, we have something here for you.
What did you think of our silicone removal guide? Were you able to get it out of everything, or are there other areas that you felt should have been covered? We love hearing from you, so feel free to leave us a message in the comment section below.