How to Remove Expanding Foam

Expanding foam that overexpands and lands where you didn't plan for it -- on hands, clothes, cinderblock or studs -- can pose a removal problem, with the solution depending on the type you use. Polyurethane foams including Dow's Great Stuff, Touch 'n Foam, DAP Kwik Foam and Owens-Corning Insulating Foam Sealant require solvents to clean up while they remain wet, or uncured. DAPtex, a latex foam, expands less and stays flexible as it dries -- and cleans up when uncured with soap and water.

Uncured

Uncured expanding foam remains wet and can pose a removal problem on skin, carpet or clothing.

  • Polyurethane foam on rigid and soft surfaces: Consult the manufacturer's instructions, which will suggest solvents, such as acetone, paint thinner or nail polish, to remove uncured polyurethane foam. On soft surfaces, such as carpet, test an inconspicuous area first.
  • Polyurethane foam on skin: Wipe off the foam with a paper towel, and rub off the final sticky layer with petroleum jelly or baby oil.
  • Latex foam: DAPtex can be cleaned off surfaces and skin with soap and water.

Cured

Expanding foam dries and hardens in 1 to 8 hours, depending on the product. You can sand, trim or scrape cured foam from rigid surfaces. Use a utility knife with a new, sharp blade for overfill up to about 1 inch thick. Switch to a serrated bread knife for wider overfill. If polyurethane foam dries on your skin, rub off as much as you can with a pumice stone. After a week or so, any remaining dried flecks should work off your skin.


Rogue Parrish

An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.