How to Remove PVA Glue from Clothes (Easy)

a picture of pva glue

Last updated: October 30, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Nothing takes me back to memories of primary school faster than the smell of PVA glue. It seemed like we used it every other day back then. The other thing I remember is getting a lot more glue on my hands, clothes, and desk than I did on the project I was working on.

Seriously it went everywhere! Cuffs and elbows were the worst but I did come back with it on the ankle or my trousers once too! Needless to say, my mother was perplexed.

If your kids are the same you likely need to know how to get PVA out of their clothes too. Kids uniforms are not cheap! There are a few methods you can try but first let’s start with how to prepare the stain.

Prepare the Stain Properly

Do Not Wipe It

I know when you or your kids spill anything your first instinct is to wipe it with a damp cloth but do not do that here. All it will do is spread the glue further creating an even bigger stain.

Let the Glue Dry Naturally

Do not be tempted to use heat to speed up the process however pushed for time you may be. Heat will set the glue making it considerably harder to remove. You’ll know the glue is completely dry when it goes clear. If you need to speed up the process you can put the garment in the freezer or apply an ice pack to it to speed things up.

Once It’s Dry Try Peeling It Off

This will only work if it’s a thick blob. You can use your fingers, a credit card, or a blunt knife to do this. Please be gentle though! If you’re too rough you could damage the material and the glue stain will be the least of your worries. Once you’ve peeled off as much as you can you’ll be left with a sticky residue. This is the part that’s a challenge to remove. Let’s explore your options.

How to Remove PVA Glue Stain

Method 1: Steam Over Stain

The first option is to use steam to get it out. To try this you should ensure you wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. You can then boil your kettle and place the glue stained area over the steam and hold it there until it becomes soft. Take it out of the steam and try to pick out the glue with your fingers. You may need to do this more than once to be successful at removing it all. Be careful when doing this as you don’t want to tug too hard and damage the fibres. Once you’ve got it all out just wash the item as normal.

Method 2: Soak for 24 Hours

The second option is to soak the item of clothing in water for 24 hours. Please note as explained earlier heat will make things worse so the water should be no warmer than room temperature. After 24 hours take the garment out of the water and squeeze out the excess. You should then apply laundry detergent or a stain remover directly to the glue and work it in with your fingers. Please check your clothes label before doing this to ensure the detergent or stain remover won’t cause damage.

After you’ve worked in the detergent wash it as normal using a cool program on your washing machine. 30 degrees is the maximum temperature you should use. It is possible the glue will not be completely gone once it’s been washed so don’t dry the garment in a dryer or on a radiator. Once it’s dry check the stain. If the glue isn’t all gone then wash it again.

Method 3: Use Soap Flakes

If the soaking isn’t working there are reports that using soap flakes can work. As the name suggests these are just pure soap. They can be hard to find in the UK but they are available online. Once you’ve squeezed out the excess water sprinkle some soap flakes on the stain. You should then take a small damp brush (like a nail brush or old toothbrush) and gently rub the flakes into the stain until it is gone. Once you’re happy with the results wash as normal.

Method 4: Apply Clear Vinegar

Another thing you can try is to use a cloth soaked in vinegar to remove the glue. This has mostly been tested on carpets which are generally more hard-wearing but it should work on clothes too. If the stained garment is light coloured then ensure you use a clear vinegar so as not to leave a stain. Use the cloth to gently rub the area until all the glue is gone.

If you’re not keen on having your house smell like the local chip shop and would rather not try vinegar then good old washing up liquid is also an option. Apply a small amount of it to the glue stain and then soak it in cold water for 15 minutes. Once that’s done put it through the wash. If the stain isn’t completely gone simply repeat these steps.

If the washing up liquid isn’t clearing it on its own then you can try applying a thin layer of solvent like white spirit with a clean dry cloth. Give it a few minutes to begin to act on dissolving the glue and then dip a second cloth in a bowl of warm soapy water. Use this cloth to gently wipe the glued area. Again, please be careful not to rub too hard as you’ll risk damaging the fabric. Keep going until the glue is all gone and then wash normally.


If none of these work unfortunately either you’ll have to let your child wear the item of clothing, stains and all, or you’ll have to replace it. If this is a regular problem it may be worth asking the school if there are any aprons your child can wear during messy projects. If not you can decide whether to provide one yourself. If the stains are happening at home then definitely have your child put old clothes or an apron on before they start. It may also be worth spreading an old sheet or towel under where they’re working – carpet isn’t cheap either. Make sure the glue is stored out of reach when not in use.

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About the Author: AJ

Ever since the birth of my son (also called AJ!), doing the washing has become a big part of my life. was created to provide tips, guides and recommendations to make life that little bit easier.