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How to Soften Plumber’s Putty: 4 Easy Methods

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Have you ever grabbed a hardened plumber’s putty jar that you bought months ago?

Most of us aren’t experts at plumbing maintenance, so it’s okay if you don’t know that the plumber’s putty gets hardened over time and how to fix it.

However, in this article, we break down 4 easy methods for how to soften plumber’s putty.

It’s quite easy to soften the plumber’s putty if you know what you’re doing. Even though you’d find a bunch of plumber’s putty softening techniques out there, it doesn’t mean every single tip works.

We’ve sifted through the whole heap of putty softening techniques to give you a handful to try out. So without any further ado, let’s get right into the putty softening guide:

How to Soften the Plumber’s Putty

The experts think if the putty is quite old, it might not be worth giving a shot. Anyway, there is no one way of softening the plumber’s putty, but here are a few common techniques that professional plumbers and plumbing experts recommend:

1. Use Water and Hand Lotion

Squeeze out a little bit of hand lotion into the putty jar and add some hot water to it. Usually, it doesn’t soften right away, so you better leave it for 8 to 10 hours. After that, try mixing the putty and add more water if required. You could hopefully revive the remaining plumber’s putty in the jar.

2. Use Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is an essential ingredient of the plumber’s putty. Therefore, adding some linseed oil to the plumber’s putty will help it soften over time. Once you add some linseed oil using a spray bottle, let it sit for a night, and come back later to check it. It could take up to two days before the putty becomes reusable.

3. Use Spray Oil

It’s quite a common method of softening the plumber’s putty and it works like a charm. The best thing about using spray oil is that it’s the quickest way of reviving the old putty.

All you need is to remove the plumber’s putty from the jar and put it on a flat surface like a tray. Spray it with any non-stick cooking oil to soften it. You may have to knead a little bit before and after the spray. Moreover, keep spraying and kneading until it softens to a certain point or you get the texture you need.

4. Buy New Plumber’s Putty

If the plumber’s putty is too old and dried out, it may not be worth resurrecting. You’ll be better off buying a fresh jar. What’s the point of going through all this trouble if the quality of the product isn’t good enough? So go to a nearby hardware store to buy a new one or order it online.

Check out our list of the best plumber’s putty for your bathroom or kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes, a bunch of details makes you anxious and you feel overwhelmed while going through the information. So here are some frequently asked questions that might come in handy:

Can you soften the plumber’s putty in the microwave?

Yes, you can soften the plumber’s putty in the microwave. However, it’s not the most common way of softening the putty. The way it works is that you add 1 or 2 tbsp of hair gel into the putty and microwave it for a minute or two. When you take it out of the microwave, knead a little bit, and test its consistency. You can go back and forth until you get the consistency you need.

Will WD-40 soften plumber’s putty?

Yes, but it won’t happen quickly.
Here’s what you need to do: put the hard putty on a plate or tray and spray it with WD-40. The magic won’t happen right away, so let it sit overnight. If the old, dried putty soaks up the WD-40 lubricant within hours, you might want to add a little bit of WD-40 lubricant to it. The process could take a few hours to complete.

How do you keep plumber’s putty from drying out?

It’s always important to keep the putty jar closed tightly after using it. However, it won’t stop putting from drying out. What you could do is to add a few drops of paint thinner or mineral spirit every few weeks to keep it moist and pliable.


The plumber’s putty is made of clay and linseed oil. Therefore, the linseed oil or any non-stick cooking oil along with water could be vital to putty softening.

Since you know how to soften the plumber’s putty, maybe you would resurrect the old, dried putty that you bought a while ago and save yourself a few bucks.

We shared the most popular yet effective ways to soften plumber’s putty. Sure, most of them would take some time to work, but they’re widely used putty softening methods.

Don’t be discouraged if you try a couple of them and they don’t work. However, if the putty is old and completely dried out, it’s better to get a fresh jar.

What else do you know about softening the plumber’s putty? Let us know in the comments section.

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