The Easy Way To Remove Silly Putty From Clothing And Other Stuff

remove a silly putty stain Holy cow!? The internetz abound with terrible advise for getting this gooey stuff out of clothing. Even the manufacturer recommends creating a new stain to remove the old stain, followed by advice on how to remove the new stain created by removing the old stain. What?! Has the world gone bonkers?

The world may indeed be crazy, but you don’t have to drive yourself insane trying to pick, freeze, scrape, or lubricate silly putty off of clothing when the inevitable disaster takes place.

You know how it’ll go…Your otherwise brilliant child decides, for one reason or another, to sit on, or snuggle with their clump of goo, and the next thing you know, they are whining about a sticky stain on their favorite piece of clothing, and you’re searching the net for an appropriate course of action.

Although the glorious world wide web is full of useful information, it is equally stuffed with bad advise that has been copied and pasted over and over again. Just because several websites offer the same directions to clean something, it does not make it any more effective. In fact, it may be evidence of just how useless it is, and how nobody really knows what they’re talking about. Do any of these sites actually test this stuff? Oh yeah. That’s right. They don’t.

So as not to be left out, but also to give you exact examples of the garbage we’re talking about, we’ll list some of the commonly offered advise for this job. After that, we’ll show you the simply good way to eliminate silly putty without trying too hard, or wasting too much time. In the example below, the goo is mashed into a pair of mesh shorts, but the same technique would work on any other clothing, upholstery, couches, chairs, blankets, comforters and more.

You could certainly give some of the bandwagon home remedies a try, but you could also snap back to your senses, and realize that WD-40 is best kept in the garage, and is most useful for lubricating things, not cleaning.

Common Cleaning Techniques

The techniques below are what everyone else will tell you to do. If you work hard enough, one or two of them may produce good results. The main problem is that removing silly putty does not have to be that hard. It should not require multiple steps, long procedures, careful picking and scratching, or using one substance to clean up the mess made by another. You will all have the ingredients necessary to give these a shot, but if you’d prefer not to torture yourself, you can skip down to the simply good method to eliminate all of the gooey stuff, and every drop of color, with a quick and simple technique.

WD-40 – This is the most commonly offered solution by far, and it’s the one that even the manufacturer features on their website. The idea behind it is that the OIL will lubricate the putty to the point of it releasing it’s bond with the fabric. Once loose, it will be removable, but you will also have the WD-40 soaked clothing to deal with afterward. Ever search for how to remove oil stains? Yeah. Pretty tough stuff. Once you scrape and pick all the putty off, they then go on to recommend using rubbing alcohol to get the oil stain out. Nice.

  1. Use a butter knife or similar tool to gently scrape and remove any excess putty.
  2. Spray with WD-40 or similar product and let it sit for about ten minutes.
  3. Scrape again to remove lubricated putty.
  4. Repeat steps one and two as necessary until putty is eliminated.
  5. Attempt to blot up remaining oil with cotton balls.
  6. When that doesn’t work, add rubbing alcohol to the cotton balls and blot again.

Rubbing Alcohol – As a close second, rubbing alcohol is also widely recommended for some reason. People who don’t know any better say that it will dissolve the mess in order to make it easy to remove. There are a variety of techniques that range from soaking the back side to repeatedly applying it directly to the stain, and just based on that, you can be pretty sure that it won’t work that well. If you do try hard enough, and put in enough work, you may be able to remove the putty, but it will take a while, and with all of the scraping required, you’ll probably end up damaging the fabric in the process. If you do actually manage to remove all of the gooey stuff, you are almost guaranteed to have some color that will remain as a stain afterward, and no amount of extra alcohol will make that go away.

  1. Place the clothing on a flat surface, and stretch out so it is totally flat.
  2. Apply rubbing alcohol by blotting with a cotton ball. Make sure to fully saturate and repeat if necessary.
  3. Use a butter knife or spoon to gently scrape to remove as much as you can.
  4. Some will remain so repeat steps 2 and 3 as needed until all putty is gone.
  5. Once gone, treat stain as needed, and launder to finish the job.

Freeze It – Because it looks like gum maybe? Not sure why anyone would waste time trying this, but plenty of people have, and many recommend it to others. Using an ice cube, or by placing the whole piece of clothing right in the freezer, this technique is supposed to harden the putty to the point of making it easy to pick off. Forget the fact that you have to wait forever for it to freeze, and just concentrate on the idea of you picking  and picking for an hour or more only to realize that you are NEVER going to get every last spec out of the fabric with this useless technique.

  1. Remove any excess putty with a butter knife or spoon.
  2. Use an ice cube in direct contact, or place the garment into your freezer.
  3. Once the putty hardens, use the knife to gently scrape and pick.
  4. Repeat by re-freezing and picking again.
  5. Repeat by re-freezing and picking again.
  6. Repeat by re-freezing and picking again…

More Putty – Yep. People actually do this. It does stick to itself, so many people will try to dab the mess on the clothing with some other chunk in order to pick it up. This can work for a small amount, but you will NEVER get it all off. You may want to try this as a way to get off excess putty safely, but as an all-in-one solution, it is pretty weak.

The Simply Good Way

Follow the simple steps below to discover one of the easiest and most effective ways to remove silly putty from clothing. It will not require intense scraping or careful picking, and you won’t have to run out to your garage or basement to get the supplies necessary. Once you finish, there will be no signs of any color or goo left on the clothing, and it will be ready to wear again. The technique itself only takes a few seconds of your time, but you do have to spend about five minutes doing nothing, so the overall job may take almost ten minutes to finish. You won’t run any risk to the clothing, and you won’t have to guess whether or not it will work. When using the method below, YOUR RESULTS ARE GUARANTEED.

What Fabric Is It Safe For?

You can literally use this method on any type and color of material. It does not matter if is mesh shorts like in the picture, blue jeans, a cotton shirt, or even silk. It will work on them all, and it will not ruin the material or remove any color from the fabric. Beyond just clothing, it will also be safe and effective for any other surface or material that silly putty gets stuck to. Slight modification may be necessary in some circumstances, but in general, you can do the same thing to get it off of any couch, blanket, chair, rug or curtain as well.

Stuff You Will Need

  1. Quick N Brite – Yes, you will need to buy some if you don’t have it yet, but if you don’t have any, you should be asking yourself why, not complaining about the cost. It dominates on this job, but you can also use it for hundreds of other cleaning tasks where it will outperform the stuff you’re using now. As an added benefit, it is totally non-toxic and biodegradable, and completely safe for use around children and pets.
  2. Cleaning cloth or towel.
  3. Scrub brush, toothbrush or something similar (optional).
  4. Fingers with nails.

silly-putty-stain-2 Step 1

As with any of the other methods for cleaning this mess, you will want to get rid of anything you can by quickly pulling off the large chunks with your hand. Don’t work too hard. Just take off the stuff that’s easy to remove, then move on to the next step. When you finish You will still have quite a bit of putty left stuck in place, and it should look similar to the picture above.

silly-putty-stain-3 Step 2

Once you get the bulk of the gunk off, it’s time to apply the cleaner. You will need the paste version for good results, and you should use a liberal amount to ensure good results. Just scoop some out with your hand, and then rub over the putty. Once covered completely, JUST LET IT SIT. Wait for about five minutes to give the cleaner time to work. If the material or stain seems particularly stubborn, let it sit for ten minutes. While it sits, the cleaner will break down the material and also make it slippery. After it has time to work, the putty will literally slide right off the surface with no picking or scraping necessary.

silly-putty-stain-4 Step 3

To speed things along, and to loosen more squished in stains, you can use a brush to work the cleaner after it sits. You don’t need to scrub, and in most cases, this step is not even required. For more set in stains, or for those that a child has sat on, or slept on, it may be necessary to work the cleaner down as far as the the putty because it can get pretty well fused with the material. Skip this step for small stains or delicate fabrics.

silly-putty-stain-5Step 4

After sitting for several minutes, and after you lightly scrub if desired, the putty will be loose enough that you can slide it right off with your finger. Notice the clean area at the center of the stain above. This area was created by one or two downward passes with a fingernail. Once the putty is sliding this easily, you can quickly remove most of it with a quick scratching motion. You won’t need to press down or work too hard. With just light pressure, the colored goo will glide right off the surface.

silly-putty-stain-6 Step 5

Use your fingernail to swipe away all of the large chunks, but again, don’t work too hard, and don’t obsess over getting every spec off. We’ll take care of that in the next step. Once the surface looks like the picture above, with some visible putty and plenty of color left over, but no large chunks, it’s time to break out your cleaning cloth or terry cloth towel.

silly-putty-stain-7 Step 6

A good microfiber cloth works really well, but any old rag will do as long as it has a little bit of texture to it. Use the cloth dry, and then gently rub the area to remove excess cleaner, and 99% of the silly putty that remains. You won’t need to rub hard, or scrub at all. The remaining putty will still be slippery, and it will have no real bond with the material, so it will come right off.

silly-putty-stain-8 Step 7

For some people, the results thus far might be good enough, but if you take a look at the picture above, you will notice that there is a teeny tiny bit left. When zoomed in, you will see that some yellow coloring remains, and there are a few bits still stuck in the mesh material. For us, this is not OK, so we continued in order to eliminate every last spec. Sending the shorts through the wash at this stage would probably take care of the minute amount left, but you can also quickly do it without washing, so the shorts can be warn right away.

silly-putty-stain-9 Step 8

Just take a small amount of cleaner and apply it to the surface to cover the remaining stain.

silly-putty-stain-10 Step 9

Use your fingernail to work it in, and then let it sit for a couple minutes.

silly-putty-stain-11Step 10

After it sits, take your cloth again, and quickly wipe to reveal a surface that is totally clean. Take a look at the zoomed in version below to see a side by side comparison. Even when looking very close, you will not see any yellow stuck in the material, and you will not see any yellow staining on top. You will be left with a completely clean piece of clothing, and after drying for a few minutes, it will be ready for your brilliant child to wear again.


This is one of those jobs that has most of us running to the computer, or picking up our phones to find out what other people are saying. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those jobs that everyone is doing wrong, and misery loves company. Don’t get duped into trying methods that are destined to fail, or soaking your child’s clothing in oil just to remove this fun material.  Our simple method is guaranteed to work, and you will never create a new mess to be cleaned, or ruin the piece of clothing you are trying to save. Sure, you have to buy some special cleaner, but it’s not a specialized cleaner that only works for this single job. It will produce amazing results to thwart disaster in this case, but you can also use it to clean your tub, de-grease your cabinets, clean vinyl siding, pre-treat laundry and so much more. Get it to avoid catastrophe the next time Billy is trying to copy the comics section with his fresh batch of putty, but keep it around to save even more money when you remove grass and blood stains from his jeans, or hard water stains from your shower door.

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  1. This is silly – rubbing alcohol works fine! No scrubbing or scraping, just let it sit and the silly putty melts away.

    (0) (0)
    • Correct. As we mentioned above, rubbing alcohol can be effective in some situations to dissolve and eliminate the putty. In comparison to our preferred method, it will always take longer, smell worse, involve more risk, and cause more unintended harm to surfaces being cleaned, and it will be less effective in general. The nice thing about it though, is that most people have some on hand. Although it is probably the best common alternative to what we recommend, it is not going to work in every situation, or on every surface. Beyond that, the longer the silly putty is in place, the less effective the rubbing alcohol will be.

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