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How to Remove Plumber’s Putty: 5 Easy Methods

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Are you sick of a dripping faucet in the bathroom or a broken sink drain pipe in the kitchen?

Usually, it’s best to call the plumber, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing. However, you could fix it all by yourself if you have some know-how of plumbing.

If you’ve done any plumbing maintenance before, you’d surely know about the waterproofing sealants used in plumbing.

One of the most popular sealants in plumbing is plumber’s putty. We’ve written several guides on choosing the best plumber’s putty, how it works, and where to use it.

Now it’s time to put some light on how to remove plumber’s putty. The reason why it’s important to know how to remove plumber’s putty is that it is just part of the job.

You may come across a situation where you need to scratch off the previous layer of the plumber’s putty before putting the fresh putty on the plumbing fixture.

If you’re new to plumbing and have no idea what plumber’s putty is, keep reading.

What is Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a clay-like substance used for waterproofing sinks, faucets and drains. It ensures that the water doesn’t leak through. Putty comes in handy for making watertight seals and stopping a leak.

If you haven’t had a chance to use putty, then you may not know what it looks and feels like. It’s a soft, pliable sealing compound that feels like mashed potato. It is mostly used while sealing sink drain pipes or faucets.

One of the perks of using the plumber’s putty is that it comes off quite easily. It doesn’t make a mess and remains soft for quite some time. It eventually harden after a few months of application. However, you can soften the plumber’s putty using different methods.

The plumber’s putty comes in small jars. You can visit a nearby hardware store or order online to find a jar. There are several putty brands out there, but here is our review of the top 3 brands.

Read more: What is Plumber’s putty?

How to Remove Plumber’s Putty

Let’s get right into different ways of removing plumber’s putty:

Method 1: Remove with Your Fingers

Carefully scratch off the putty with your fingers. It shouldn’t be a problem if the plumber’s putty layer was applied a few days ago. If it doesn’t come off easily, you may have to find an alternative way using a scraper tool. Putty hardens after a few months, but eventually, comes off using other methods.

Method 2: Use a Utility Blade or Knife

You might not want to scratch hard on the putty bare-handed or it may cause skin irritation. Use a utility blade or a knife instead. It’s easier to scrub off the compound with a utility blade or a knife. Not only does it protect your fingers from hurting, but you could also remove the putty with more power and efficiency.

Method 3: Wash with Soapy Water

Soapy water is extremely helpful in cleaning and disinfecting sinks and faucets. When it comes to removing the plumber’s putty, it could be useful to soak the old plumber’s putty.

Method 4: Utilize Paint Thinner or Mineral Spirits

Paint thinner is a solvent that is used to thin the oil-based paints in the home renovation space. Similarly, mineral spirits are a petroleum-derived liquid used as a solvent across different industries. Coat the old putty with paint thinner or mineral spirits to remove plumber’s putty.

Method 5: Use a Heat Gun

A heat gun is normally used to strip paint and bend plastic pipes. However, DIY geeks and plumbing experts think of heat guns as more than just plastic welding tools.

Some professional plumbers use heat guns to soften the pipe joints before joining them together. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a heat gun can be used to remove the plumber’s putty. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to use a heat gun. Be sure to take all precautionary measures before using a heat gun for removing plumber’s putty. 

How to Remove Ring of Linseed Oil After Removing Plumber’s Putty

Since linseed oil is one of the ingredients of plumber’s putty, it may leave a linseed oil stain or residue after removing the putty from the faucet or sink pipe. Here are a couple of things you can use to remove the linseed oil ring:First things first, you could try to scrape it off with your fingers. If the linseed oil ring is cold and rusty, it might not come off just by scraping it. So you may need to try other solutions.

Method 1: Wash With Soap and Water

Try washing the part/area with water and soap. The chances are, the linseed oil residue would fade away or completely scrape off the surface. When washing the surface of the plumbing fixture with water and soap, try scrubbing it a bit to wipe the stain off of the surface.

Method 2: Use Paint Thinner or Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are a widely used petroleum-derived liquid used across different industries. One of the benefits of mineral spirit is that you can use it to remove the linseed oil residue from the plumbing fixture or surface. All you need is to soak a cloth or paper towel with mineral spirit and rub it on the surface to wipe off the linseed oil residue.

Method 3: Use Fine Grit Sandpaper

Sandpaper could also help in this regard. However, it’s not always recommended to use sandpaper for removing linseed oil residue. Sure, you could try out the sandpaper if soap and water and mineral spirits aren’t available. Make sure you’re using very fine-grit sandpaper and rubbing it gently, especially on the delicate plastic parts. Otherwise, you could damage the surface of the plumbing fixture.

You might find some other solutions for removing linseed oil rings here and there, but the above-mentioned techniques are the common solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you soften plumber’s putty?

There are various ways to soften plumber’s putty and you can opt for the most suitable one for you. The first two methods may take a few hours for the putty to get soften. However, the third method is rather quick. You could start with softening the putty with water and hand lotion. It may take a long time, but it works very well.

You can also use hair gel or the microwave method. Put a little bit of hair gel into the putty, mix it well, and then microwave it for a couple of minutes. And lastly, you could use linseed oil or any similar oil to soften the putty. Not only does it save time, but it also works like a charm.

Will WD-40 soften plumber’s putty?

Yes, WD-40 lubricant would soften the plumber’s putty, but it may take some time before the plumber’s putty gets softened and becomes reusable. Spray the hard putty with WD-40 and let it sit overnight. It may take a little longer because the dry putty would soak up the WD-40 lubricant, but it won’t be ready to use within a few hours.

How do you remove the plumber’s epoxy putty?

Put on the safety goggles, wear a face mask, and use gloves before starting anything related to removing the plumber’s epoxy putty. Removing the plumber’s epoxy putty is no easy task. It’s a heavy-duty bonding substance that hardens due to the chemicals in its ingredients.

However, if the epoxy putty isn’t hardened just yet, you could use white vinegar or methylated spirit to remove the epoxy putty. All you need is to soak up a cloth either with white vinegar or methylated spirit and scrape off the epoxy putty.
Some experts also use acetone for removing plumber’s epoxy putty, but it’s not recommended if you’re not a professional plumber or expert at this. You should only use acetone if the area is well-ventilated and make sure there are no flammable objects nearby.

If nothing is working out for you, then the only way to remove the plumber’s epoxy putty is by cutting it with a sharp object like a knife.

Final Words

Plumbing isn’t just about putting on glue, installing the pipes, and screwing the nuts. Sometimes, you need to be vigilant about the safety of the consumer or sharp-minded for finding possible solutions.

Removing plumbing fixtures or accessories is also an essential part of the plumbing process. Some homeowners don’t fancy getting their hands dirty or they don’t know how to do it.

So we thought to educate you on a rather simple task like removing plumber’s putty. We’ve shed some light on how you can remove a plumber’s putty and shared our five best methods for.

However, calling a professional plumber is highly recommended if you need a more professional hand.

Let us know what you think of the five ways of removing plumber’s putty from the plumbing fixtures. 

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