How to remove old silicone caulk: 2 best sealant removers

Before you start your project, which implies several repairs and installations, you will have to remove the old caulk. It is done to keep the surface clean and damage-free. In the future, you will avoid moisture problems and debris build-up. However, not everyone knows how to remove the caulk, but this process is simple and easy to understand.

Make sure to wear protective equipment and be prepared for this project before you start working on it. Gloves are recommended as the substances can irritate your hands. The best ways to remove caulk are effective only if you safely perform them. Be advised that removing the caulk can be messy, so you should prepare the working area in advance.

If you are ready to do it, continue reading this article as we show you how to remove old silicone caulk. Additionally, we recommended you 2 of the best sealant removers currently available on the market. 

Goo Gone Adhesive Remover

What dissolves silicone?

To dissolve silicone, you will need to apply a softening agent. It is the most effective solution for softening silicone, which you can remove using your hands or any tool that could help you. You can use many substances for this purpose, but the most affordable ones are vinegar and alcohol.

These solutions can be found in your kitchen and are effective for this purpose. If you have WD-40, you can also use that and get the same results. But if they are not fit for your job, you should look to get something stronger than isopropyl alcohol.

Be advised that you must contact a professional to obtain such a chemical. But regardless of the substance that you use, all you have to do is apply a small amount to the areas covered in silicone. After several hours, the silicone will soften and be safely removed. 

How to remove old silicone caulk from tile

If you have a ceramic tile with silicon residue, removing it is easy. Anyone can do it. Usually, you should consider using a razor blade or any other sharp scraper that can remove this material. But you should always be careful when working with such a tool. Move slowly and take your time, as patience is key, and there is no rush.

After scraping the silicone with the blade, some residue might still be left on the tile’s surface. If that happens, using a mix of silica sand and water will create a substance abrasive enough to remove the leftover. Before you apply this method to the entire working area, you should do it on a small one to be sure it is effective.

Some types of tile, such as ceramic or porcelain, are strong enough to withstand the rough process of silicone removal. Other types, such as stone, could be easily damaged. You have to be more careful with this operation.

How to soften caulk for removal

Softening the caulk before removal is necessary. Otherwise, you will struggle a lot with this process. For this procedure, you will need isopropyl alcohol which is also safe to use for painted and plastic surfaces. All you have to do is soak a piece of material in the alcohol and place it on the surface with the caulk for a couple of minutes.

During this time, the substance will soften the caulk and make removing it much easier. It causes the caulk to expand, but be advised that this works only with water-based caulk. If you are dealing with 100% silicone, alcohol might not be enough to soften this material.

But you can still try and remove it after it’s soaked. As the caulk expands, you will notice how easy it is to scrape it off. Repeat this process as often as needed, and patience is important. Do not rush this operation, as you might damage the surface itself. 

How to remove silicone caulk residue

After you followed the advice from the previous section and soaked the caulk in alcohol, you can now continue with the process. It is much easier than you think. While normally it is difficult to scrape this hardened material, you can do it effortlessly as the alcohol caused the caulk to expand.

Any blade will do, but it is important to operate it safely. There is the risk of damaging the surface or cutting yourself, so you should take all the necessary precautions before starting this process. You can also use a scrub pad to minimize the risk of injury. 

If it is difficult to remove the caulk in some areas, apply any solvent that will further soften the silicone residue. Repeat this process until you can remove all the caulk from the working surface, but it is crucial not to rush it. 

Best silicone caulk removers

Look no further if you are looking for the best silicone caulk removers. There are many products available for you, but not all of them deliver their promises. While some of them are not as effective, we present you with an option that will deliver exceptional results quickly.

Goo Gone Spray Gel – 2 Pack and Sticker Lifter

This solution is intended to remove the caulk from any surface, as it contains a special formula to protect the working area. You will not have to worry about your paint job being ruined or any damage that might occur during the process. 

It is easy to use, and this solution can also stick to vertical surfaces. Because it does not pour down, you can spray isolated areas and leave the chemicals to work against the silicone for as long as needed. All you have to do is spray the Goo Gone on your working area, then scrape the caulk off with a blade or a sharp tool.

Suppose you are sensitive to the smells created by various chemicals. In that case, you will not notice that you work with a very strong concentration. This product contains citrus cleaning agents that release a pleasant smell, so you won’t have to worry about fumes and strong odors. 

NameGoo Gone
ManufacturerWeiman
Product Dimensions8.8 x 3.71 x 3.78 inches
Weight1.48 Pounds

Pros

  • More than 6,000 reviews.
  • It’s also incredible at removing sticker glue.
  • Easy adhesive removal
  • We loved the small plastic scraper.

Cons

  • It potentially makes a mess if you’re not careful.
  • It supposedly doesn’t remove sap, although we didn’t try it.
  • It’s pretty oily.
Goo Gone 
6,253 Reviews
Goo Gone 
Goo Gone is great.

Silicone remover set

After softening the caulk, removing it from the working surface is not difficult at all. However, this procedure requires a blade or a sharp tool. While any knife or screwdriver would do, they might not be the best tools intended for this purpose.

If you want something professional that is also highly efficient, there is something we can recommend for you.

Draper Silicone Removal Tool

This tool has been specifically designed for removing silicone from several surfaces. You can use it for your bathroom projects, as it can easily scrape the caulk from your shower or cabinets. The Draper company is known for using high-quality materials for its products, and this removal tool is no exception.

Plastic has been used to manufacture the handle of this tool. It is easy to hold and doesn’t make you uncomfortable as you use it for longer periods. The blade is made of stainless steel, ensuring maximum efficiency when sharpened.

After ordering this product, you receive three different blades in your package, and all of them are intended to remove silicone. The difference between them is the motion. While one is intended for pushing, the other one will be used for pulling. Lastly, the third tool is used for scraping operations. 

NameDraper
Product Dimensions10.59 x 3.15 x 1.46 inches
2.12 Ounces1.48 Pounds
MaterialDurable plastic with a stainless steel blade

Pros

  • It’s an extremely handy tool.
  • Our expectations weren’t high when we originally ordered it, but it proved very good.
  • It’s great value for money.

Cons

  • It can leave scratches if you’re not careful.
Draper Silicone Removal Tool
4,558 Reviews
Draper Silicone Removal Tool
Here's the tool you need.

How do you get silicone off your hands?

After you have finished the process, you might have silicone left over on your hands. This situation could be avoided if you used gloves and other protective equipment. Still, there are several ways in which you can remove this material from your hands.

You can try acetone, a great solution for removing silicone from your hands. It is an organic chemical used in cosmetics to remove nail polish. The substance will easily dissolve plastics and is also effective against caulk. 

All you have to do is soak the corner of a towel in acetone and wipe the spots on your hand that have silicone on them. You should never pour the acetone directly on your hands as it can produce toxic fumes and strong, unpleasant odors. 

You can also use a hair dryer if you don’t have acetone at home. Silicone will gradually weaken when exposed to high temperatures, and a hair dryer is a good option for this task. You should turn the dryer on and make sure it blows hot air. Point it towards the affected area and allow enough time for the silicone to warm. 

Once you feel that the silicone has warmed up enough to be removed, you can use an abrasive material to get rid of it. When operating the hair dryer, start with the lowest power level and gradually increase it as necessary. 

FAQ

How often should caulking be replaced?

You should replace the caulk once every 5 years. While several factors could influence how frequently you need to replace it, use this standard as a general rule. It is recommended to perform this replacement even if there are no visible signs of wear and tear because you can prevent further damage before it occurs. 

Will acetone remove caulk?

As mentioned in the last section, you can use acetone to remove silicone from your hands. While it is effective for this purpose, applying acetone directly to the working area is not recommended. If you want to remove caulk from ceramic tiles, try other alcohol-based solutions, as they are more efficient for the job. 

How long does it take for silicone caulking to dry?

Once you apply a silicone sealant, you should wait at least 24 hours for this material to dry completely. After one day, you can safely expose it to water and moisture without worrying about cracks or other damage. Several factors could influence the drying period, so you should always be patient.