How to Remove Industrial Adhesives from Skin

adhesive dripping out of a tube
What You'll Need
Mineral oil or petroleum jelly
Lava soap
Regular soap and water

Industrial adhesives are engineered to bind heavy materials such as tile or wood panels very quickly, so removing it when it gets on your skin requires a few careful steps. This is especially true for extra-fast drying adhesives that are made from polyurethane compounds. Removing them successfully simply takes acting quickly and using the right cleaning substances. Always read any instructions and safety precautions concerning these types of adhesives before attempting to remove them.

Step 1 - Wash off Skin Area

Depending on the strength of the adhesive chemicals, it is advised to wear protective gloves if you can during this process. Gently wash off any dirt, dust, or debris that may have stuck to the dried adhesive on the skin. Dry carefully with a clean cloth or towel. Do not try to scrub off the cured adhesive itself with only soap and water; doing so is not effective and can possibly damage your skin by rubbing off too many layers.

Step 2 - Loosen Adhesive

Use a small amount of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, or even cooking oil to partially loosen dried adhesive. This is an especially important step if you are trying to remove it from two fingers stuck together. Rub in the oils until the adhesive starts to loosen; this step may take some time and patience, depending on the thickness of the stuck-on adhesive.

Step 3 - Use Lava Soap

washing hands

Various brands of lava soap are sold in hardware stores and now even some grocery stores; unlike ordinary soap, it is made with ground pumice. Pumice is actually a by-product of volcanic material, hence the name. This gritty material is intended to scour and scrub tar, industrial adhesive, engine oil, and other such substances from the skin. It has been shown to be effective without skin damage as well. It is available in both bar and liquid forms. Some claim the bar is more effective, and others say that there is no difference between the bar and liquid when it comes to removing adhesive.

After at least several minutes of scrubbing, the lava soap should cause the dried industrial adhesive to lift up from your skin. This process can take some time, depending on the thickness of the adhesive and the size of the affected area. Do not stop scrubbing until it has lifted completely.

Step 4 - Remove Traces

water in a sink

Once the dried industrial adhesive has lifted from your skin, rinse off the lava soap and wash the area gently with regular soap and water. Look carefully for any stuck residue, and remove this by repeating the above steps with first oil and then lava soap. Clean off lava soap and dry thoroughly after all adhesive is finally gone.

If you had heat-based industrial adhesive stuck to your skin, there is a good chance of irritation, itching, or even burns. Most of the time, this can be taken care of with an over-the-counter ointment. However, if you experience any burn more serious than a minor first-degree one, see a physician as soon as possible. Chemical burns from these types of industrial adhesive will have blisters and can become infected quite easily.