Polyurethane is an organic compound that is produced by reacting glycol and an isocyanate.
Thanks to its moisture and corrosion-resistant properties its widely used as a heavy-duty adhesive, sealant, and caulk in various industries including construction and home renovation.
The product as a caulk sealant is very flexible and is available in tubes that can be applied very easily with a caulk gun.
You can use polyurethane caulk sealant for sealing joints, cracks, and large gaps on window trims and doors.
Being versatile and crack resistant you can use polyurethane caulk on a wide range of surfaces including plastic, wood, glass, or metal.
The only problem with polyurethane caulk sealers is it’s difficult to strip off if you accidentally get them on your hands or on surfaces where they should not be applied.
But worry not, if you have already attached polyurethane caulking to your hands, below is a step-by-step process you can follow to get rid of it.
Removing Polyurethane Caulk from Hands
Removing polyurethane caulking from your hands can become easy if you pick the right stripping agent and follow the process patiently.
Step 1 – Rinse with mineral spirits
The very first step requires you to wash your hands with some mineral spirits.
Mineral spirit is a solvent that can be easily purchased from the nearby hardware store that sells paint products.
When using mineral spirits, take some time for rinsing the hands properly and make sure you cover your entire hands or areas that need polyurethane caulk sealant removal.
Step 2 – Rub hands and wash off mineral spirits
After you have rinsed your hands with mineral spirits, rub both hands together vigorously for a few minutes.
This will help loosen the PU caulk from your hands so that it can be removed easily.
Once done, rinse off the mineral spirits using warm water.
Step 3 – Scrub your hands with a good Lava soap
Next, you will need to wash your hands with a Lava soap (available online or in a hardware store).
Lava soap is a heavy-duty hand cleaner that is specifically designed for getting rid of stubborn items such as grease and caulk.
Scrub this soap actively on your hands and soon you will see all the polyurethane caulk getting peeled from your hands.
Step 4 – Repeat the above steps and moisturize
If there are still traces of polyurethane caulking left on your hands, rinse and repeat the process with mineral spirits once again.
If the caulking is super strong you may need to repeat the steps two-three times to get it removed completely from your hand’s skin.
After you are done washing polyurethane off your hands, do not forget to apply some gentle moisturizer to your skin.
If you do not like the smell of spirit, soap, and polyurethane; consider using a scented moisturizer to freshen up your skin and get the softness back.
Removing Polyurethane Caulking from Skin without Mineral Spirits
If you do not have mineral spirits available, or you do not like its smell, you can still remove the polyurethane caulk from your hands.
All you need is a little patience and some elbow grease. Here are the steps you will need to follow…
First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will help to remove any loose particles of caulk that may be on your skin.
Next, take a small amount of petroleum jelly and rub it into the caulk that is on your hands. Doing this will help loosen the caulk and make it easier to remove.
Once the gummed-up poly caulk is softened, use a paper towel or a rag to wipe the caulk from your hands.
You may need to repeat this process a few times to completely remove all of the caulk.
A few other alternatives you can also use to remove polyurethane stains from the skin are:
- Vegetable oil or peanut butter
- Paint thinner
- Denatured alcohol
- Acetone or nail polish remover
You can also use this same method to remove polyurethane caulk from other surfaces, such as countertops or tiles. Just be sure to use a soft cloth so you do not scratch the surface.
Removing Polyurethane Caulk from Concrete, Metal, or Other Surfaces
Once applied, PU sealant bonds firmly to the surfaces like metal, concrete, bricks, wood, exterior gutters, and even radon mitigation systems to avoid radon leakage.
Also, when dried completely, it feels like a rubbery substance that has a paintable texture.
Removing the dried polyurethane caulking from the surfaces can be difficult and most likely you will require to apply good old elbow grease to do the trick.
Below are a few products and steps to follow. These can hopefully increase the chances of getting success when it comes to stripping polyurethane caulking.
Step 1 – Dampen and use a chemical remover
Start by dampening the dried caulk with some warm water.
And then apply a thick layer of chemical-based paint stripper or caulk remover to soften the caulk.
Since chemical strippers can be strong, make sure you work in a ventilated area with protective gear such as a face mask and gloves on.
Step 2 – Put wax paper and wait
Put a piece of wax paper over the surface you have applied the stripper to keep the stripper from drying.
Wait for a few minutes until you see the caulk bubbling off the surface.
Caulking may take some time to get off from surfaces like wood, or masonry.
If required, apply a second coat of chemical remover over the caulking and wait.
Step 3 – Scrape the surface to remove the PU caulk
Once the caulk gets dissolved and softened you can remove it with a 5-in-1 painter’s tool.
If the caulk has been attached and dried over your clothes or upholstery, you can simply use steel wool or a wire brush to scrape it off.
A box cutter or a razor blade can also work to remove the softened caulk, especially if you need to get underneath the old caulk to dig it out completely.
Just in case the caulking is too stubborn you can use a utility knife to make a vertical cut into it and then peel the residues off the metal, wood, or concrete surface.
How to clean silicone caulk off hands?
To wash off silicone from your hands, start by soaking a piece of paper towel in acetone or nail polish remover.
Then, carefully use the acetone on areas that are covered in old caulk and try to remove it. You may need to repeat this process several times to remove all of the caulk.
If your hands are still sticky after trying this method, you can try using a pumice stone or hand sanitizer to remove the residue.
How long does it take for polyurethane caulk to dry?
It typically takes about 24 hours for polyurethane caulk to dry completely.
But do remember that to completely cure the polyurethane caulk it will take around 10-12 days. So, it would be best to leave it for that duration if possible.
You may be able to use the caulked area after 24 few hours if it’s urgent. But take some precautions to save your skin as if it gets on your fingers’ skin and gets dried, it can be hard to remove.
How can you avoid getting the polyurethane caulk on your hands?
To avoid getting the polyurethane caulk on your hands in the first place, you should take these prevention steps:
1- Use latex gloves when working with the caulk
2- Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to your skin before starting to work with the caulk. This will create a barrier between your skin and the caulk.
3- Use a putty knife or another tool to apply the caulk instead of using your hands.
4- Wipe any spills on your clothes or skin immediately with a damp rag. The longer the caulk sits, the harder it will be to remove.
5- When you are finished working with the caulk, store the excess leftover in sealed containers.
6- If you do get the caulk on your hands, try to remove it as soon as possible. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to remove.
7- Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after working with the caulk, even if you did not get any on your skin. This will remove any sticky residues of poly that may be left behind.
The Bottom Line
Polyurethane caulk sealant can be hard to remove from hands, fingers, and other skin areas if it gets time to dry.
The best way to avoid this is by using gloves when caulking. But if you don’t have any gloves and the caulk has already dried on your hands, don’t worry.
Follow the methods above and hopefully, that can help you clean it off easily.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.