How do you clean up silicone caulk?

The product label doesn't have clean up instructions. It is impervious to soap and water (even that orange pumice soap). I didn't have much luck with mineral spirits or xylol either.

Is there any way to clean it off of surfaces besides waiting for it to cure then scraping it off?

5 Answers 5


silicone is only soluble in few solvents, mostly modified methylsiloxanes. you can buy commercially available silicone solvents at most big box stores, but if you cant find them, they are here:

http://www.valco-cp.com/solvent200.htm (this is the one we use - less agressive but doesn't dissolve acrylics)


  • Or, alternatively, wait for it to set then remove it with a razor blade. Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 2:13
  • Have you ever had any success with these on porous surfaces, like concrete or unfinished wood?
    – Jason C
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 3:14
  • 1
    they both work, the first one better than the second. the more porous the material, the more work it will be and will require multiple applications. there is always a chance of reaction with the actual substrate so you may get colour changes or staining where you remove the silicone. Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 16:07

while still wet, denatured alcohol will work.

  • 1
    rubbing alcohol too
    – grokster
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 21:17

Just wanted to weigh in here on removing wet silicone or cleaning up dry silicone residue. I'm not a professional, even though my family calls me the Caulk Queen, so take what I say as just coming from an experienced amateur. I have done a TON of caulking, drywall, painting, etc. over the years and yes, silicone caulk is a pain-where-the-sun-don't -shine, but it stays in place better than anything else. YET, if you got messy putting it on or you just need to clean up a bit afterwards, you could use plain old Rubbing Alcohol. Don't get me wrong, it won't REMOVE DRIED silicone caulk, but if its still wet it will help to remove it from your hands and any surfaces you got it on by mistake and if you're removing dried silicone caulk its good for cleaning up the little bit of dried residue left behind (along with a scraper), but you may need to let it sit for a few minutes. It can also be used to smooth the surface of the caulk if its not as smooth as you would like, by putting a drop on your finger and wiping the surface. I wouldn't use it to smooth acrylic or latex caulk because Rubbing Alcohol can remove both of them so its best NOT to use it on these tyoes of caulk. AND last but not least, or maybe I should have mentioned this first: its a good prep prior to caulking with silicone caulk. I wouldn't use it before caulking with acrylic or latex caulk because it may not allow them to bond properly even if its dry.. But if you're working with silicone, it works just fine. So here's how to prep with Rubbing Alcohol before caulking with silicone: Clean the surface to be caulked and let it dry. Then wipe it down with alcohol and wait until it dries. Then caulk.
And while I'm giving away my 'trade secrets' LOL, I am also an artist and have done a few murals, signs, pictures and even fingernail art. I prefer to use acrylic or latex paint, but often I will need to clean up paint and have found that Rubbing Alcohol again comes to the rescue, even on dried acrylic or latex paint and even from clothing after it is dried, (though you will have to work at it and it may need a few applications.) And as mentioned above, it also cleans up acrylic and latex caulk, and I can attest to that!
WOW! The wonders of Rubbing Alcohol! Who knew?!

Hope this helps someone! Happy Caulking Gentlemen!


Industrial silicone lubricant, like for garage doors, works well to dissolve drying silicone caulk. I sprayed it on a rag and wiped it away. Maybe personal silicone would work too in a pinch


xylene - nasty stuff but is what is used to thin silicone.


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