Hot glue's ability to stick to nearly everything is what makes it such a great go-to adhesive. Unfortunately, it also sticks just as well to surfaces where you don't want it to adhere. In many cases, the dried glue is easy to remove with ice, heat or rubbing alcohol, depending upon the surface.
Free That Fabric
Glue drips happen. If you are mid-project and some of the hot glue spills on fabric or your clothing, wait the few minutes it takes for the glue to dry before trying to clean it up, otherwise it may spread or become embedded in the fabric. Place the affected fabric in the freezer for 45 minutes or so, if possible. If not, place an ice pack or a sealed bag of ice cubes over the affected area until the glue feels hard and brittle. Pick the hardened glue off the fabric. This technique also works on upholstered furniture. A dab of rubbing alcohol applied with a cotton swab also helps loosen stubborn glue spots.
Soothe Your Skin
Even if you're careful, strands of hot glue may get on your skin as you apply glue to the project piece. Keep a bowl of ice water handy for cooling potential burns. Otherwise, run the affected skin under cold tap water or place a zippered bag of ice cubes over the spot until the glue is hard. Peel the glue away from your skin if this doesn't cause pain; otherwise, rub the affected area with olive oil or another cooking oil to loosen the glue while soothing the skin. Gently rub the area to remove the glue.
Help for Hard Surfaces
Clean up hard surfaces such as countertops, craft tables or even the sink by dabbing the hard glue spot with rubbing alcohol. Soak a cotton swab tip in rubbing alcohol, then wipe the glue spot focusing on the outer edges of the glue. Wait a few seconds, then peel the glue away. Rubbing alcohol helps break the bond between the glue and virtually any other surface.
If removing glue from a painted, varnished or otherwise finished surface, test the rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous area first, allowing it to sit for a minute or so to ensure it doesn't damage the finish.
Break the Bond
Rubbing alcohol can even break the bond between two hard objects glued together. Soak the tip of a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, then wipe it over the area where the two pieces adhere to one another, allowing the alcohol to seep between the pieces. Twist the pieces to separate them, then peel the hard glue away with your fingers.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.