Removing Epoxy & Cleaning up

Removing epoxy and cleaning up
Cleaning up & removing epoxy

Cleaning Up Epoxy Spills

Contain large epoxy spills with sand, clay or other inert absorbent material. Use a scraper to contain small spills and collect as much material as possible. Follow up with absorbent towels. Uncontaminated epoxy resin or hardener may be reclaimed for use.

  • DO NOT use sawdust or other fine cellulose materials to absorb epoxy hardeners.
  • DO NOT dispose of epoxy hardener in a trash container that contains sawdust or other fine cellulose materials—spontaneous combustion can occur.
  • Clean epoxy resin or mixed epoxy residue with lacquer thinner, acetone or alcohol. Follow all safety warnings on solvent containers. Clean epoxy hardener residue with warm, soapy water.

Safe disposal of epoxy materials

  • Dispose of epoxy resin, hardener, and empty containers safely. Puncture a corner of the can and drain residue into the appropriate new container of epoxy resin or hardener.
  • DO NOT dispose of epoxy resin or hardener in a liquid state. Waste epoxy resin and hardener can be mixed and cured (in small quantities) to a non-hazardous inert solid.

CAUTION! Large pots of curing epoxy can get hot enough to ignite surrounding combustible materials and give off hazardous fumes. Place pots of mixed epoxy in a safe and ventilated area, away from workers and combustible materials. Dispose of the solid mass only if the curing process is complete and the epoxy mass has cooled. Follow federal, state or local disposal regulations.

Removing Epoxy

Remove uncured or non-curing epoxy as you would spilled resin. Scrape as much material as you can from the surface using a stiff metal or plastic scraper. Warm the epoxy to lower its viscosity. Clean the residue with lacquer thinner, acetone, or alcohol. Follow safety warnings on solvents, and provide adequate ventilation. After recoating wood surfaces with epoxy, it’s a good idea to brush the wet epoxy in the direction of the grain with a wire brush to improve adhesion. Allow solvents to dry before recoating with epoxy.

Removing Epoxy After Cure

Fiberglass Cloth Applied with Epoxy

Use a heat gun to heat and soften the epoxy. Start in a small area near a corner or edge. Apply heat until you can slip a putty knife or chisel under the cloth (about 200°F). Grab the edge with a pair of pliers and pull up on the cloth while heating just ahead of the separation. On large areas, use a utility knife to score the glass and remove the epoxied fiberglass cloth in narrower strips. The resulting surface texture may be coated, or the remaining epoxy may be removed as described below.

Removing Cured Epoxy Coating

Use a heat gun to soften the epoxy (200°F). Heat a small area and use a paint or cabinet scraper to remove the bulk of the coating. Sand the surface to remove the remaining material. Provide ventilation when heating epoxy.


Removing Epoxy from Your Clothes

Removing epoxy resin alone

Resin should be removed with a rather aggressive solvent, such as one that is MIBK (methyl isobutyl ketone) based. Acetone or lacquer thinner also work but are extremely flammable. Never use solvent directly on your skin. Remove clothing first before treating a spot of resin with solvent. Thoroughly wipe the spot with a paper towel dampened with solvent, then wash with hot, soapy water. Be advised, solvents can permanently change the color of some fabrics and melt others.

Removing epoxy hardener alone

Epoxy hardener is the more hazardous of the two epoxy components but is easier to remove. Hardener by itself is best cleaned of with hot, soapy water. Solvents are not effective on these spots. When removing hardener you must take necessary precautions to it keep off of your skin. Using a solvent, even something as “mild” as vinegar, to remove hardener can actually drive it into your skin. Stick to soap and water.

Removing mixed epoxy resin and hardener

Believe me, if you allow mixed epoxy to cure, it will. The spot will eventually crack and then you’ll have a hole in your pants. When you get mixed epoxy on fabric, get at it immediately. First, place a piece of plywood behind the stained area, apply a dab of waterless skin cleanser to the spot, and scrape with a coin. Repeat four or five times. Then scrub with dish soap and a stiff fingernail brush. If there is still epoxy in the fabric, it will usually show up as a white spot. Repeat this procedure until the spot disappears, then rinse thoroughly. Be careful, as this approach can produce wear spots in some fabrics.

Work clean. You’ll waste less epoxy, the project will go better, and your clothes won’t get ruined.—From “How to Get Epoxy Off Your Clothes” by Captain James R. Watson in Epoxyworks issue number 1.