How to Remove Caulk

Wondering how to remove caulk? You'll want to remove and replace any caulk that has become dry and cracked, but you may also need to remove caulk to fix or replace a faucet or other fixture. Either way, a clean surface will help new caulk adhere better.

How To Remove Caulk Completely

Old caulk can become dry and brittle over time and old caulk is often a mildew magnet. Removing caulk is simple but time consuming. After you've gone through all that trouble, you should consider replacing the old caulk with a caulk that contains fungicide to keep mildew from returning. Here's how to remove caulk and prepare the surface for a new application:

  • A little help from a friend. You'll have an easier time when you start to remove caulk if you first treat the caulk with something to loosen it. Water-based caulk can be softened by soaking with a wet rag. Acrylic and polyvinyl caulks can be loosened with isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Silicone caulk will need a commercial caulk remover applied before it will soften.
  • What a cut up! Use a razor or utility knife with a fresh blade to score the caulk and separate it from the surface. Be careful not to mar the surface-water will work as a lubricant to limit damage.
  • Pulling for you. Pull the loosened and scored caulk free with tweezers or a pair of needle-nosed pliers.
  • Collecting stragglers. Using a plastic putty knife, scrape the remaining caulk from the joint. A painter's tool or the sharp end of a can opener can also be used to loosen caulk remains.
  • Cleaning up. Once you've cleared away the bulk of the old caulk, clean the joint with non-ammonia based cleaning solution. Follow up with a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach mixed into a gallon of water. The bleach solution will kill any mildew that has formed behind the old caulk. Allow the surface to dry completely before applying new caulk.
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