Silly putty can be lots of fun to play with, but it can also lead to some sticky situations if it gets onto clothes, upholstery, carpets, and other fabric items. That bright pink, bouncy putty clings to fabric and hair tenaciously, making removal attempts extremely frustrating. Fortunately, with the right cleaning supplies and techniques, you can remove silly putty stains – even dried, caked-on ones – and restore your fabrics and textiles.
Use Cold Temperatures and Hard Surfaces to Remove Fresh Silly Putty
When silly putty is still soft and pliable, the best removal method is to use cold temperatures. The colder the temperature, the firmer and less sticky the silly putty will become. Here are two techniques for using cold to remove fresh silly putty:
- Stick the fabric with fresh silly putty to a hard surface in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Marble, glass, or metal work best. The extreme cold will solidify the silly putty so you can peel or pick off the maximum amount in one piece without stretching the fabric. Be very careful when peeling putty off delicate fabrics like silk or lace so you don’t cause any tears or holes.
- Hold an ice cube to the fresh silly putty for about 30 seconds, then quickly pick off the hardened putty. Repeat the ice application and removal process, using a fresh ice cube each time, until you’ve eliminated the entire silly putty stain. This works best for small stains rather than large blobs.
Freeze Silly Putty to Remove it from Carpeting, Furniture or Car Upholstery
Did your kids play with silly putty and leave bits of it stuck in your carpet, furniture or car upholstery? You can use the power of freezing temperatures to harden and remove dry, caked-on silly putty as well.
Simply cover the entire affected area with an ice pack or bag of ice cubes. Leave the ice in place for 5 to 10 minutes or until the putty feels very cold and rigid to the touch. Then use a silly putty removal tool or dull knife to quickly scrape off the hardened putty before it starts warming up again. You may need to apply ice and remove silly putty pieces in stages if there is a large amount ground deep into the fibers. Check carefully with your fingers to ensure you’ve gotten all the silly putty out – even tiny remnants can leave oil stains over time.
Use Banana or Eucalyptus Oil to Remove Fresh Silly Putty from Clothing
Banana oil and eucalyptus oil are two all-natural, cleaning pantry staples that can quickly pre-treat and remove silly putty from clothes and other delicate fabrics when promptly treated:
- Banana oil contains ester solvents that work to dissolve the tacky grip of silly putty, releasing it from fabric fibers. It’s also very gentle and won’t damage fabrics.
- Eucalyptus oil has natural solvents like alpha-terpineol that penetrate silly putty to break its adhesive properties. Plus, it leaves clothes smelling fresh!
For either oil remedy:
- Lay the clothing item flat and apply about 1⁄2 teaspoon oil directly to the silly putty stain using a dropper.
- Let it soak for 2 to 3 minutes. The silly putty will ball up as it separates from the fabric.
- Then use your fingers, a sticky lint roller, or an old toothbrush to gently work any remaining oil into putty residue before scraping clean.
- Finally, immediately wash the item as usual to eliminate any lingering oil and stains.
As a bonus, banana and eucalyptus oils are very safe for use on common clothing fabrics like cotton, wool, linen and polyester blends. That makes them ideal choices for kids’ clothes covered in silly putty messes!
Remove Dry Silly Putty on Delicate Fabrics with Baby Oil or Coconut Oil
Sometimes that stubborn dried silly putty lingers for days or even weeks on delicate fabrics like silk, rayon and lace, fusing itself onto every fiber. Harsh solvents found in commercial stain removers can easily damage delicate fabrics – so opt for gentle baby oil or coconut oil instead!
These mild oils can penetrate even rock-hard cakes of silly putty that have been stuck tightly on delicate fabrics for ages. Here’s the safe, thorough clean-up process:
- Apply a generous amount of baby oil or coconut oil directly onto the dried silly putty using a rubber glove to evenly spread and work in the oil.
- Work the oil completely into the caked silly putty using gentle circular motions until it crumbles down into smaller remnants and globs as it detaches from the delicate fabric. This can take up to 10 minutes for stubborn stuck-on silly putty.
- Let the oil sit for another 5-10 minutes to fully penetrate and lift all remaining silly putty particles from the fabric fibers. Remember that slow and gentle is key for delicate fabrics!
- After the soak time, use a dull knife, credit card, or silly putty removal tool to carefully scrape off all remaining loosened putty pieces without damaging the fabric underneath, working in small sections. Discard the pieces on sticky tape or in a jar for easy cleanup.
- Apply a small amount of more oil only to any visible putty remnants and let it soak again for another 5 minutes before trying to scrape again. A toothbrush also helps work out oil and bits caught in intricate fabric textures.
- Once all silly putty is removed, gently sponge and blot the spot with a microfiber cloth and warm water to eliminate excess oil before laundering the delicate fabric as soon as possible. This prevents oil stain setting in.
For stubborn, rock-hard stuck-on silly putty stains, coconut oil works better than baby oil thanks to the higher oil content. But either oil can tackle dried silly putty with some patience and gentle handling!
Lift Old Silly Putty from Upholstery with Goo Gone, WD-40 or Vinegar
Upholstery made from sturdier fabrics like faux leather, vinyl, real or synthetic suede can withstand heavier-duty silly putty removers without damage. Three excellent commercial options for eliminating ugly stuck-on dried silly putty eyesores from upholstery are:
- Goo Gone Original Liquid: This odorless citrus-scented liquid cleaner effortlessly dissolves even the stickiest silly putty stains on contact. Just spray it liberally onto the upholstery, let it soak for 1 to 2 minutes and then wipe clean with paper towels or a dry cloth in circular motions to lift residue. It leaves surfaces smelling fresh!
- WD-40 Lubricant: The water-displacement and lubricant formula of WD-40 allows it to instantly penetrate and lift stubborn silly putty from vinyl, leather and most suede upholstery with minimal rubbing. Apply liberally and let it soak for 2-3 minutes. Then wipe away all excess WD-40 oily residue with clean paper towels or a dry soft cloth so it doesn’t attract more dirt.
- Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar is a natural solvent that can break down sticky silly putty bonds. Just spray vinegar generously onto stuck-on silly putty blotches and let it soak in for 3-5 minutes. Then blot and wipe clean with a cloth. It may take a few applications and scrubbing for big silly putty stains. But vinegar is cheaper, gentler and better smelling than toxic chemical solvents for safe upholstery cleaning.
No matter which removal product you have on-hand to combat silly putty on home fabrics, acting fast is key! Letting silly putty set and fuse onto fibers for more than a day makes complete stain eradication much more difficult. Save yourself headaches and get silly putty picked up pronto with the techniques above.
Remove Dried Silly Putty from Hair Safely with Peanut Butter or Conditioner
Silly putty doesn’t limit itself to fabric victims – it loves sticking and clumping around hair too! Rubber cement-like properties allow silly putty to become one with hair strands and even scalp skin if left alone over time. Since hair is so porous and fragile, using harsh chemical solvents to remove stubborn hair-stuck silly putty is definitely off-limits.
Luckily, common household products offer gentle, effective silly putty removal powers for hair disaster situations:
- Peanut butter: The oils in creamy peanut butter can slowly penetrate and dissolve stuck-on pieces of silly putty in hair. Massage a big dollop thoroughly into affected hair and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle and lift softened silly putty globs out bit by bit. Follow up with a clarifying shampoo.
- Conditioner: Regular or deep hair conditioner also contains conditioning oils and emollients that can help loosen silly putty’s grip on hair over time. Coat hair strands thoroughly and let the conditioner soak in under a shower cap for 15 minutes. Then slowly comb out bits of dissolving silly putty from mid-lengths to ends. Repeat conditioning treatments may be necessary for stubborn spots fused tight near the scalp and underlayers.
While definitely messy and time consuming, silly putty versus hair battles don’t need to end in tragedy with the right oil or conditioner clean-up plan! Just remember to always handle strands gently and detangle slowly to avoid breakage after silly putty removal.
Safely Eliminate Silly Putty from Electronics and Other Hard Surfaces
Silly putty doesn’t just wreak havoc on soft fabric items and hair, either. It can easily stain or ruin the finish on wood furniture, plastic electronics cases, laptops, remote controls, wall paint and more if not promptly removed! Using rubbing alcohol can save a wide range of household hard surfaces from sticky silly putty fingerprints:
- Apply 70-90% isopropyl or ethyl rubbing alcohol liberally onto the silly putty spots using a reusable lint-free cloth or cotton rounds.
- Let the alcohol soak in for up to 5 minutes to allow it to completely dissolve and detach the silly putty.
- Then wipe the area clean using gentle buffing motions with microfiber cloths to lift any remaining residue. Soft toothbrushes also help scrub crevices and grooves.
- One rubbing alcohol application is often sufficient for completely eliminating silly putty and restoring most original surface finishes. Repeat as needed for very stubborn dried bits.
As you’ve read here, silly putty pickles on fabrics, upholstery, electronics and even hair aren’t difficult to resolve with the right stain removal know-how. Whether goopy-fresh or rock-hard-dried, acting fast and using appropriate oils, solvents or lubricants makes eradicating silly putty simple and frustration-free! With this comprehensive removal guide under your belt, silly putty stains can be banished for good from your home, car and fabrics.