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How to Remove Plumber’s Putty in 60 Seconds

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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.

Today I’m going to show you how to remove plumber’s putty. If you’re going to reseal a sink drain, you’ll want to make sure you remove plumber’s putty completely before applying the new putty.

how to remove plumbers putty

How to Remove Plumber’s Putty in 60 Seconds

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

The first step is to undo your sink drain or whatever plumbing component you need to seal. Once you have access, you can remove the plumber’s putty residue.

Be sure to check out our deep dive on how to use plumber’s putty to stop leaks once you’re done removing the 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. Plumber’s putty only takes around half an hour to dry, but it will be easy to remove at first.

Plumber’s putty does harden after a few months, but eventually, comes off using other methods.

Remove plumber’s putty with your fingers first and then move onto using a blade or knife to get the parts that are stuck.

Method 2: Use a Utility Blade or Knife

remove plumbers putty with a putty knife

Sometimes putty can get really stuck to your plumbing fixture. In this case, a utility blade or a knife will get the job done. It’s easier to scrub off the compound with a utility blade or a knife.

Use the knife to gently scrape away without scratching or damaging your plumbing fixture.

Method 3: Wash with Soapy Water

Once all the putty is removed, I recommend washing it thoroughly with hot soapy water. This will help remove any smaller bits and help clean the surface before you re-apply new putty.

If you have putty that’s really stuck, try soaking it in soapy water for half an hour and then continue to scrape away.

Method 4: Utilize Paint Thinner or Mineral Spirits (last ditch effort)

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.

If you really can’t get the putty off, coat the old putty with paint thinner or mineral spirits to remove plumber’s putty. This will almost certainly remove the last remaining bits of putty.

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

After you remove plumber’s putty, you might see an oil stain or residue on the faucet or sink pipe. This is because linseed oil is one of the ingredients of plumber’s putty.

If you want to get rid of removing the linseed oil ring, you might be able to just scrape it off with your fingers or a brush. If that doesn’t work, try the following methods.

remove linseed oil stain

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.

wipe off excess plumbers putty

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. You can use 1) water and hand lotion, 2) Linseed oil or 3) cooking spray oil

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.

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Richmond Howard

Richmond Howard started My Plumbing DIY in 2022 to help people solve all their home plumbing issues. He and his wife have been problem solving DIY issues all around their fixer-upper house they bought in 2018. His goal is to build My Plumbing DIY into the one stop shop for home plumbing needs so that people can save money and time.

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