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I have a new dryer. Someone placed a mattress cover in the dryer, the mattress cover melted and stuck to the metal plate that hot air must pass through to dry the clothes. The heat did something to the plastic and it is hard.

I could chip and scrap but that would take several hours and likely damage the metal plate. I have tried to dissolve the plastic with denatured alcohol, acetone, naptha, and xylene. Nothing dissolves this plastic. I have tried a heat gun but that just turns the plastic to goo. I have tried soaking the removed plate in alcohol and burn the plastic off but the plastic does not want to catch fire.

I can see there is a $150 replacement available online but I would prefer to not to spend that money.

How can I remove the plastic from the dryer plate?

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    Heat gun and a wooden/plastic/silicone(one that will be tossed) scraper should do. Soften the plastic then scraped it off.
    – crip659
    Oct 26 at 15:47
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    @marcelm A lot of polymers are insoluble in anything (and some dissolve slowly enough to be impractical).
    – fraxinus
    Oct 27 at 11:59
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    @marcelm: You do not want anything that could dissolve plastic anywhere near a heat source like a dryer! Oct 27 at 20:16
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    I'm amused that you've tried to burn the plastic off but were worried that chip and scrap ... would ... damage the metal plate :D
    – Caius Jard
    Oct 28 at 16:34
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    Have you tried MEK (methyl-ethyl-keytone)? It's an epoxy thinner, and it attacks plastics. otherwise, since its attached to a metal part, maybe hit it with a hammer.
    – Z4-tier
    Oct 29 at 18:03
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Either throw in the towel now, buy the new plate and install it, or work to remove the plastic.

To chip/scrape it off, I'd suggest a hard, stiff, plastic scraper. If you don't have anything like a narrow plastic putty knife or plastic interior trim tools (for removing trim pieces from a car without damaging the trim or the paint), an old credit card or a plastic knife might do the trick. I'd opt for the plastic knife first, but I'd grab it with 2 pair of pliers and break the knife blade * to give a sharp edge. The plastic should be soft enough to not damage the metal, but the sharp edge should help scrape the mattress cover off. You might even need to tap it gently with a hammer and use it as a makeshift chisel *.

If you get it all off but it takes two hours, well, you just paid yourself $75/hour for the labor. Not a bad rate! If you end up damaging the metal enough that you feel you must replace it, at least you gave it a try and you're no worse off than if you hadn't tried at all.


*For both of these operations, eye protection is highly recommended. By "highly recommended", I really mean mandatory - you don't want a little bit of flying plastic embedded in your eyeball to compound the issue.

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    I bought a used one online. @crip659 recommended a heat gun but again, that softened it, and I got a lot off that way, but a thin film remained and the added heat seemed to just harden it more.
    – GBG
    Oct 26 at 21:27
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    If you credit yourself $75/hour for doing it in two hours, you do have to debit your time if you try and fail - it's inconsistent to say you're "no worse off" in that case! Oct 27 at 13:48
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This answer is pretty short, but. . .

I'd remove the plate and attack it with a pneumatic wire wheel / wire wheel attachment on a drill.

Use at your discretion, wire wheels can be pretty aggressive and change the finished look of the metal - But in my experience it does not cause any knicking or burring, which I imagine would be the main concern with your clothes spinning around in it.

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    You can get them with brass bristles too, which makes it safer to lean in a little bit harder.
    – Tim B
    Oct 26 at 21:25
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/those which fire cannot cure, are to be reckoned wholly incurable.”/ - Hippocrates.

The metal plate will not burn. The plastic will burn. Remove the cooking grate and fire up your grill. When it is hot, set the metal plate on the coals or over the gas jets. All plastic burns if it gets hot enough. This is outside work, because there will be smoke.

You can scrub off the carbon when you are done. The metal plate will be discolored. That is ok.

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    It's a mattress cover (or rather, was). They might well be fire-proofed. Now, with enough effort, you can still set it on fire, but I'd really worry about the metal given the intense heat that might be required. Also, that fire-proofing chemical could be a bromine compound, which is a halogen. That's not going to produce just "smoke", that will be a toxic cloud. (The idea being that you'd normally be killed by the intense fire before these chemicals are released - it doesn't pose an additional risk while decreasing real risks)
    – MSalters
    Oct 27 at 9:19
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    Attention, the metal plate can possibly bend when heated to a high temperature.
    – pabouk
    Oct 27 at 9:22
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    @nick012000 It's very likely already ruined.
    – rtaft
    Oct 27 at 17:15
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    Attempt to burn up a mattress cover in the grill I cook my meals on? No, thanks…
    – Josh
    Oct 27 at 20:43
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    @Josh Remove the cooking grate
    – Nelson
    Oct 28 at 3:56
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The other suggestions here are great, but to add another option I was surprised not to see:

I'd consider sandpaper. Optionally wet the sandpaper to keep the plastic from gumming up as it warms up. You can start with a fairly rough grit and then use a finer grit to polish the metal back to looking nice.

Do it by hand or use an electric sander.

As with all tasks involving creating dust, wear appropriate eye and breathing protection.

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One solution I'm surprised no one has mentioned: if the plastic has dried on hard, it's probably brittle. Try removing the metal plate and hitting the plastic a few times with a hammer. The metal might get a few dents, which can be banged back into shape, but it will break the plastic and make it much easier to remove, especially if you're using an ordinary claw hammer; just get the claw into one of the cracks you produce and use it to pry a piece of plastic off, then repeat.

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  • With some types of plastic, placing it in freezer first (if it fits) can help also.
    – jpa
    Oct 27 at 14:12
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Instead of using the heat gun on the plastic, use it on the grate on the opposite side as the plastic. Then you can heat up less plastic and have it concentrated on just the parts that are stuck to the grate. This will loosen the plastic and you'll have less "goo".

Also, work on a small section at a time, trying to peel the plastic off as it heats, so it pulls off the instant it loses grip, instead of turning to goo.

And to try to prevent the plastic from acting like glue-gun glue and having long stringers of plastic everywhere, get the plastic hot enough to be pliable then apply an ice cube to the spot. This may harden the plastic and cause a shearing effect due to the difference in temperatures at the plastic cools at a different rate than the metal. This shearing might be be enough to "pop" off the plastic cleanly. You likely don't want to try cooling the metal with the ice, since that could change the temper of the metal or cause it to warp.

If it doesn't shear on it's own, try using a knife, chisel, prybar, or even a hammer to give it a literal whack at the cold spot. The problem with this method is that you could lose paint or otherwise damage the grate. A rough spot or small burr might not seem significant, but it could catch or rub on clothes causing them to rip or wear significantly faster.

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Run the dryer to heat it up for about 20 minutes then carefully scrape off the plastic with a wooden spatula or paint scraper. For tough patches, use a clean rag dipped with nail polish remover.

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    Running the dryer in this state is a good way to start a fire.
    – zwol
    Oct 27 at 16:48
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    @KevinHarker, the OP already said they tried a heat gun with less than useful results. Oct 27 at 19:49
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    @computercarguy I saw their heat gun statement after leaving my comment. They didn't mention what they tried other than saying it turned to "goo". It might be that they didn't try scraping it when it went soft before it turned to goo, or they might possibly have better luck by heating the metal to the point where scraping it off is possible. I see that you have posted an answer that suggests this. Oct 27 at 23:18
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    @zwol if that were true it would have started a fire already, the first time the mattress cover was going round it!
    – Caius Jard
    Oct 28 at 16:38
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    @CaiusJard It's clogging an air vent, though. I'm actually expecting the fire to start inside the guts of the machine, because the heat isn't being efficiently carried away from the heating element.
    – zwol
    Oct 28 at 21:48

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