How to Remove Caulk in a Few Easy Steps

If you’re tired of looking at the same grimy caulk on some of the fixtures in your home but aren’t sure how to 1) remove the caulk and 2) how to apply it, we’re here to help. The first thing you should know is that caulk needs time to dry and cure. If your home only has one bathtub, consider how re-caulking might affect your day-to-day routine.

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The second thing you need to know is that all old caulk needs to be fully removed before you apply any new caulk. The process can be time consuming, but it’s worth it because your new caulk will look better and bond more easily to its target. Here’s how to get started removing old caulk.

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Step 1. Soften the caulk by applying caulk remover.

How to Remove Caulk in a Few Easy Steps

Step 2. Slice through the softened caulk using a utility knife with a fresh blade or a caulk scraper. If you’re lucky, most of it will fall free. If not, a little extra elbow grease should do the trick.

Step 3. On the other hand, if there are several layers or if the caulk is very thick, you may need to pull the material from the joint with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Step 4. Rake remaining chunks of caulk from the joint using the hook end of a painter's five-in-one tool or a sharp putty knife.

Step 5. Clean the surface and remove mildew. Use a non-ammoniated bath cleaner to remove soap scum.

⚠️ Do not use an ammoniated cleaner prior to applying bleach because, when mixed together, they give off poisonous fumes.

Kill any mildew on the surfaces using a solution of 1/3 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. Use a paintbrush or foam brush to apply the solution and to work it into the gap left by the removed caulk. Scrub the area with a brush or plastic pad, rinse, then dry the surfaces with a clean rag.

Step 6. Finally, apply a bead of tub-and-tile caulk that contains a fungicide such as DAP Kwik Seal Plus or Red Devil Duraguard.

Keep your caulk and tools together in a small bucket for quick and easy access to everything you need the next time you have to peel and re-caulk some of the fixtures in your home.

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