I started thinking about this yesterday because I currently have a weird feeling second skin from the polyurethane adhesive I used to attach my kitchen backsplash on Sunday. I foolishly assumed since the instructions say "cleans up with mineral spirits" that cleaning some incidental mess off my fingers wouldn't be a big deal. Boy was I wrong!

Are there any substances you have worked with (adhesives, solvents, caulk, etc etc) that you really wish you had worn gloves (or otherwise not touched with bare skin) when you started working with them?

I'll start with my example:

Avoid getting PL Premium Polyurethane construction adhesive on your bare hands - it is harder to get off bare skin than silicone caulk!

  • Can this question produce a really good answer? It seems too broad.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 4:19

9 Answers 9


Expanding foam.

It seems like every time I grab a can of it, I somehow convince myself that I will be very careful and not touch any of it until after it has dried. I always end up with it on my hands/clothes. I spend the next 15 minutes with a bottle of acetone promising myself that I will wear disposable gloves next time.

  • Haha, I didn't read your post beyond expanding foam when I made my post, promise. :D
    – Doresoom
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 19:05
  • 1
    been there; done that, more than once. it always makes a beeline for my hair though, don't ask me how. and there's only one cleaner that gets that out, scissors.
    – SqlACID
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 1:41
  • In my younger days I lost a whole ponytail to expanding foam. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 19:09
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Roofing tar in a caulk tube
  • Gasoline

to name a few. I used to not wear gloves until I discovered that my local drugstore sells latex gloves for next to nothing (I think $2-3 per box of 100). So now I use em for almost everything from painting to changing the oil in my tractor .... but I keep a supply of GoJo Orange with pumice handy ..... JUST in case :)

  • Gasoline stinks. For a looong time. I swear you can taste it after a few minutes. Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 19:35


Great for prepping some surfaces for adhesives. Also great for seriously irritating and/or drying out your skin. Use nitrile gloves - it'll go right through latex.

This was a three part learning experience for me. I was prepping a large surface for an adhesive, and my hands got really irritated. "Hmmm, maybe I should wear gloves." Out come the latex gloves. Five minutes later, "Hmmm, my gloves have holes in them." Out come the nitrile gloves. Much better.


I know this is along different lines, but I was staining my deck this summer, and I got oil-based stain all over my hands. I checked the internet about how to remove it, and everyone suggested vegetable oil and some light scrubbing. Imagine my surprise when just 2 minutes of work and my hands were cleaner than before I started!


I try not to get anything on my skin that claims to remove Rust. The two products that come to mind are Rust Free and Royal Jelly. When it gets on my skin I swear it is taking off the outer most layer of my skin. Might be all in my head though.

  • Royal Jelly put my roommate in the hospital for three days. Had something to do with a tattoo he had. Nasty stuff.
    – allindal
    Commented Mar 10, 2011 at 23:54

Not really a chemical, but...pine tar. That took forever to get off, even with turpatine.

High-quality primer is a pain to get off, too. Reveals the difference between it and regular paint.


That dark, sticky, pasty, black stuff on the pipe snake when you pull it out of the drain.

Fiberglass Faced Sheet rock. ITCHTY ITCHY ITCHY


Alcohol based primers - once they are on your skin you pretty much have to grow new skin to get it off.

Also, paint remover. Even with gloves it gets on your hands and just eats away at them, in a very annyoing and burning way. If you are going to use paint remover use the good heavy duty vinyl gloves, not the cheap latex ones.


There's a ton of chemicals in the world so I will provide the simplest and broadest answer. When working with any chemical wear gloves, whether latex or non latex, depending on your health condition, some people are allergic to latex so wear appropriate safety clothing considering your health. Gloves will protect your hands. Wear safety glasses just in case something splatters. They call some injuries accidents, but some are really not as much an accident as they are resistance to spending a few extra dollars, resistance to the extra time to put them on, resistance to learning to work with the gear, or being a bravado.

I know some people think that they will be neat, it's only a small area, 5 minute's and I am done, that's the thought s that makes injuries or terrible workmanship happen.

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