Epoxy resins are a powerful class of adhesives that can bond to virtually any surface. While this is a useful characteristic for manufacturers, end users, and hobbyists alike, it can make cleaning up spills and excess epoxy challenging. At Copps Industries, we specialize in all things epoxy, and our team has collected helpful tips and insights about using epoxy resins successfully while keeping worksites, skin, clothes, and surrounding materials clean.
What Is Epoxy Resin?
Epoxy resins are a type of synthetic polymer material that are created through the reaction of two or more chemicals, and they are commonly used in the production of adhesives, coatings, and composite materials. When properly combined with curing agents or hardeners, the epoxy resin becomes a strong adhesive or plastic-like material. The bond it forms is so durable that epoxy resins are a popular material across commercial and industrial applications. However, its long-lasting adhesion can also make it stick in place to unintended surfaces if there’s a spill or drip. The difficulty of cleaning epoxy resin will vary based on:
- The surface texture and material of the substrate
- Whether the epoxy is cured or uncured
How to Clean Epoxy Resin Spills
For every epoxy spill, there’s a unique method to clean it and remove as much of the material as possible.
Removing Uncured Epoxy – Surfaces
Epoxy that hasn’t cured yet is relatively simple to remove. First, wipe or scrape away as much of the epoxy as possible. Next, clean the affected area with a solvent such as acetone or alcohol in a well-ventilated space.
Removing Cured Epoxy – Surfaces
If the epoxy has already cured before you notice the spill or leak, it is much more of a challenge to remove. Follow these steps:
1. Apply acetone or denatured alcohol to the surface of the cured resin, let stand, and remove with scraping. Repeat as needed.
2. Another method is to heat the area with a heat gun. While applying heat, carefully scrape away the material.
Fire risk: Do not apply heat to a surface that has acetone or denatured alcohol on the surface.
If the resin is thick, repeat these steps as many times as needed to strip away the resin.
How to Remove Epoxy Resin From Skin
First, it’s important to focus on prevention. Wearing disposable gloves and long sleeves can protect users’ skin from accidental exposure. If epoxy resin does come into contact with your skin, try to remove it as quickly as possible. If it’s uncured, wash with soap and warm water. Consult your doctor and review the manufacturers SDS.
If the material has cured, apply vinegar with a paper towel first. This can dissolve the resin without damaging sensitive skin. Then the material should be easier to remove with soap and water or peel away. Isopropyl alcohol is an alternative if vinegar can’t remove the resin. However, take care not to apply stronger solvents to your skin. Consult your doctor and review the manufacturers SDS.
How to Clean Epoxy Resin From Clothes
If the resin has contacted your clothes, remove the clothing immediately. To clean, start, apply a thin layer of a solvent such as acetone with a paper towel. Don’t mix solvents, and only apply them in a well-ventilated area. Once the resin has been removed, thoroughly wash the fabric with soap and hot water. Be advised that some solvents can discolor clothing, and acetone is flammable.
How to Clean Epoxy Resin From Plastic and Glass
If you’re using epoxy resin to fill molds or repair broken items, excess epoxy can easily drip onto unintended objects. To remove the excess, rub the surface with a paper towel soaked in isopropyl alcohol until the material starts to peel away. If the material has cured or developed a strong bond to the surface, try a more aggressive solvent such as paint thinner or acetone or a scraper tool.
Once you have removed the epoxy, use a clean cloth to wipe away any remaining solvent.
How to Clean Epoxy From Wooden Surfaces
Removing excess uncured epoxy from wood surfaces is relatively simple. You can apply isopropyl alcohol to a rag and set the rag on the affected wood surface. Let the alcohol soak into the surface of the wood for approximately one minute, which gives the chemical time to loosen the chemical bonds between the epoxy and the wood surface. Then use a second cloth soaked in hot water to remove the loosened material. If excess epoxy remains, keep applying the rag soaked with isopropyl alcohol and then wipe it away with a wet rag to remove more and more of the epoxy until removed.
NOTE: Removing cured epoxy from a wood surface is not normally possible without damaging the wood.
Turn to Copps Industries for More Insights About Epoxy Resins
Epoxy resins are versatile adhesives and coatings for manufacturing, assembling, and repairing goods. But before users apply epoxy to any surface, they should thoroughly read the manufacturer’s SDS and be aware of any safety recommendations. Knowing how to handle the material—including preparing it, using it, and removing it —is valuable. Contact us today to learn more about epoxy resins and our specific products, or request a quote to start your order.