How to Remove Caulking in the Bathroom

Moldy caulking in bathroomIf you have a moldy bathroom you plan on refurbishing, one of the jobs you will be faced with is removing bad caulking. The good news is that once the project is completed you know you will not be likely to do it again will be a great point of pride and satisfaction.

Many of todays caulking products have mildewcides, which will kill mildew so that you are less likely to have to go through this process again.

The bad news is that removing caulking in the bathroom is a rather lengthy and time-consuming process. You can find products labeled “caulk remover,” but they mainly are used to soften the caulk that remains after you scrape out what you can. One company that makes such a product is 3M. Be sure to wear heavy duty chemical resistant gloves if you use this product as it can be harmful to skin.

Scraping

The first step is doing a lot of scraping. The bulk of the removal process will consist of you scraping the old caulking out by hand. Did I mention there would be scraping? You can use a razor blade or other scraping tool that will not damage your hands or whatever is touching the caulk you are attempting to remove.

Using water for a lubricant may help during the process and will help prevent scrapes and scratches on your tub, shower stall or tile. It is also important to remember that going at the grout with an all out effort is not the wisest idea since it will limit the amount of control you have over what the tool you are using actually comes in contact with. This is one instance where time and endurance will win out over brute force.

If the caulk is hard, not soft and spongy like silicone, you can soften it up a bit with heat, using a heat gun. Be careful around wood or painted surfaces – you don’t want to singe the surface or ruin your paint job.

Solvents

As mentioned above, once you have removed the majority of the caulking you can attempt several of the solvents or caulk removers that can be found readily at your local hardware or home improvement stores. A couple available are:

  • Dap Caulk-Be-Gone
  • 3M Caulk Remover

You may also want to try water for a few days before purchasing remedies that may or may not be any more effective at removing the caulk. There really is no quick and easy way when it comes to how to remove caulking in the bathroom. That I guess is the bad news. This is a long and steady process.

If you are going to purchase products to help you it is best if you have a general idea of the what material the original caulking is made of. This is one important factor when it comes to removing caulk. With silicone caulk, you will usually get lucky and be able to pull strips out once you get it started. Work very gently so as not to break the strip. Try to use a combination of both pulling the strip and working it loose with a razor blade or small screwdriver.

The material in the caulking will affect the materials that will work best in the process of removing the caulking. There are some caulking residues that can be easily removed by simply applying rubbing alcohol. This can be done with a Qtip or cotton ball if you so desire, whatever it takes to get the stuff to the residue so that it can be wiped off later on.

Why Remove Caulk?

Aside from the obvious reasons for learning how to remove caulking in the bathroom, the sheer and total disgusting look of it are many health factors. Left unchecked problems with caulking can lead to serious problems that lie beneath the surface of the caulking.

These problems can consist of mold and mildew and not only affect the structure of your home but also have potentially serious health consequences as well. The effort is lengthy and quite involved but the consequences of not making this effort can be much more costly in life, quality of life, and the value of your home.

photo by Bart / CreativeCommons