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How to Remove Sealant from Bath: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Georgia Nunn 16 May 2024
How to Remove Sealant from Bath: A Step-by-Step Guide

The sealant around your bath is frequently exposed to water and different chemicals and detergents, all of which can degrade and damage your sealant over time. It is important that when you begin to see signs of damage and discolouration on your sealant, you remove and replace the sealant in order to stop the escalation of the problem.

Following the steps below will ensure that you can carefully remove the bath sealant as safely and effectively as possible.

Gathering the Necessary Tools

There are a few essential tools required to help you remove the sealant from around your bath.

Ensure that you have these following supplies ready:

  • Utility Knife

This is typically the most used method to remove bathroom sealant. However, this is not the safest way to get rid of the sealant, as there is a higher risk of you damaging the bathtub underneath.

  • Bath Sealant Remover Tool

This specialised tool functions similarly to the utility knife, however, it does not have the sharp blade so the risk of damaging the bathtub surface is reduced significantly. Often they can also be used as a smoothing tool for the reapplication of the sealant.

  • Bath Sealant Removal Gel

A sealant removal gel takes away all the manual work of scraping and cutting the sealant away. Once applied, it begins to dissolve the sealant so it can be wiped away.

  • Tweezers
  • Clean Cloth
  • Methylated Spirit
  • Safety Gloves

Preparing the Area

It is important that before you begin removing sealant from the bathtub, you thoroughly clean both the bath itself and the surrounding areas. 

  • Using a clean, damp cloth or Wonder Wipes thoroughly clean the sealant using soapy water in order to remove any bacteria or dust on the surface. 
  • Rinse any soap residue from the area and make sure to thoroughly dry the sealant.

Softening the Sealant

There are a few substances you can use to soften the silicone sealant around the bathtub. The most affordable and attainable options are either white vinegar, rubbing alcohol or a sealant removal gel. 

Once you have the solvent of your choice, dab onto a clean cloth and apply over the existing sealant that you wish to remove. It is important that the area you are softening the sealant in, is a well ventilated space, so make sure to open windows to promote airflow where possible. 

Leave the solvent to sit on the sealant for several hours. Once the time has elapsed, you can test the softness of the sealant by touch which should determine if it is loosened enough to be removed and scraped away.

Scraping off the Sealant

Once the sealant has been loosened and softened, you should be able to remove it much more easily. 

Using a utility knife:

When using a utility knife you should be cautious of the sharp blade as to not injure yourself or damage the bath surface underneath

  • Begin by cutting along the full length of the silicone.
  • This should then produce a loose edge which you can peel away from the wall, removing your silicone in a large strip.
  • If any stubborn pieces remain, see below on how you can use tweezers or solvent to remove the rest of the sealant.

Using a Sealant Remover Tool

Using a sealant remover tool is similar to using a utility knife however, the risk of damage to the surface is reduced as there is no sharp blade

  • You can either push the pointed end of the plastic tool into the softened sealant and push forward to remove the silicone
  • Alternatively, you can use the lower opening of the tool to dig into the sealant and pull it back towards yourself, in a peeling motion.

Using a Sealant Removal Gel

A sealant removal gel can take some of the manual work out of removing bath sealant as once applied it works to dissolve and break down the sealant so it can be easily removed. 

To apply the sealant removal gel:

  • Place the gel product into a sealant gun, and using your utility knife slice the nozzle at a 45° angle.
  • Apply the gel using the sealant gun, onto the old sealant.
  • Leave for a few hours, or as instructed on the manufacturer’s guidelines. 
  • Once the gel has been left for a few hours, the sealant should come away easily, you may require the use of a remover to to scrape away any resistant pieces.

The older and more damaged the sealant is, the longer the gel will take to break down and dissolve the silicone.

Removing Stubborn Residue

Silicone sealant can be difficult to remove, and once you have gotten rid of the bulk of the sealant, there may be some stubborn remains that will not come away. 

To remove the remaining sealant:

  • Dab some methylated spirit onto a clean cloth and wipe over the remaining sealant until it dissolves. The solvent eliminates the adhesive properties of the sealant, making the old sealant easy to remove.
  • If any still remains, you may want to use some tweezers to remove the remainder of the old sealant. 

It is essential that you ensure all of the old, existing sealant is removed before applying any new sealant as any pieces of dirt or debris can disrupt the adhesion of the sealant, meaning that the surfaces will not adhere to one another properly, allowing moisture to penetrate the seal.

Cleaning and Drying the Surface

Once all of the old, existing sealant has been removed. It is important that you clean underneath where the sealant has been, to remove any bacteria or mould growth that may hamper the longevity of the new, replacement sealant.

  1. You should begin cleaning by taking some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth and wiping over the surface, this will not only remove any bacteria and dirt but will help to degrease the non-porous surface.
  2. Next, you should make a bleach solution, of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water, and apply to the surface where the sealant once was to kill any black mould growth underneath.
  3. Rinse off any of the bleach residue and thoroughly dry the surface.
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