How to Remove Polyurethane Spray Foam From Your Hands

By Mary Smith. Updated: August 13, 2020
How to Remove Polyurethane Spray Foam From Your Hands

Polyurethane spray foam is a fast selling DIY household product. It is used to fill, seal or insulate various parts of the home. These include seams, cracks, joints or frames in various parts of the home. It is commonly known simply as spray foam and is sold under brands such as Great Stuff, Red Devil and DAP. Part of its popularity is its ability to easily adhere to various building materials including metals, glass, concrete, wood and more. As it is an expanding foam, it is also also to enter tight spots and fill them easily.

The expanding nature also means it can get on your hands fairly easily. This is why oneHOWTO brings you our guide on how to remove polyurethane spray foam from your hands with our 4 easy methods.

The best ways to remove polyurethane spray foam

If you have accidentally put some polyurethane spray insulation or sealant foam on your hands, don't worry. There are some easy ways you can do this at home. The 4 best methods are to use:

  1. Aectone
  2. 91% isopropyl alcohol
  3. Hot soapy water
  4. Vaseline

Below, we detail these methods of removing spray foam in more detail. If you want to learn more, you can take a look at our article on how to clean a memory foam mattress or how to remove the smell of bleach from your hands.

1. Acetone to remove polyurethane spray foam

The ease of removing expanded polyurethane spray foam depends on a few factors. Smaller stains are easier to remove than large ones and dry foam is harder to remove than wet foam. However, either form of the insulating foam is fairly easy to remove from the skin.

Since polyurethane is a chemical, we need to use a solvent to dissolve it. Acetone is a common solvent we may have at home which is helpful in removing insulating spray foam from your hands. To remove polyurethane spray foam using acetone you need to:

  1. Remove the excess spray foam from your hands using a thin piece of cardboard. It will be removed much more easily if the foam is not completely dry. This is why it is important to clean yourself as soon as you get stained and not when you finish doing the entire job.
  2. Dip a clean cloth in acetone and gently pat the stains on your hands until they are completely removed. You can rub, but do so gently so as not to irritate the skin.
  3. To completely remove acetone and foam residue, wash your hands with hot, soapy water afterwards.

It is very important that you use an acetone suitable for the hands. Read on the product's labeling and see if it is suitable for hands. This is why nail polisher remover is recommended. Other types of acetone solutions may be too corrosive for use on the skin.

How to Remove Polyurethane Spray Foam From Your Hands - 1. Acetone to remove polyurethane spray foam

2. 91% isopropyl alcohol to remove polyurethane spray foam

In addition to acetone, you can use isopropyl alcohol (commonly known as rubbing alcohol) to remove foam sealant from your hands. It needs to be 91% alcohol to be most effective. Again, it will be more helpful if the foam hasn't fully dried yet.

  • Wet stains: wet your hands with the alcohol, rub them for a few minutes, as if you were washing them with soap and water, and dry your hands with a clean cloth.
  • Dry stains: if you have not been able to prevent the polyurethane foam stains from drying, fill a deep dish with 91% alcohol and insert your hands for a maximum of 10 minutes. With a clean cloth you can dry yourself and remove the remains of this expansive material. However, if you still have some small debris that are quite stuck on your skin, you will have to rub your hands gently with a pumice stone or repeat the alcohol process. You can scratch the foam off, but do not do so if it damages your skin.

Isopropyl alcohol is used in other solutions to create different products. One is homemade antibacterial gel, although you will need to have the right expertise to make it safely.

3. Hot soapy water to remove polyurethane spray foam

Since both rubbing alcohol and acetone can potentially damage the skin in high concentrations, you may be able to clean the polyurethane spray foam with simple soap and water. This is most effective when the spray foam is wet. It may require a stronger solvent if it provides too much resistance. Choose a suitable soap for your skin type and:

  1. Wash your hands with the soap and hot water for several minutes to help the stains disappear.
  2. Repeat the hand washing if you do not remove it all the first time..
  3. Dry well with a towel or rag. If you see any small pieces of foam left over, delicately rub the area with a pumice stone or something similar.
  4. Wash again but with cold or warm water and soap. Dry your hands and apply moisturizer to protect your skin.

Obviously, you should not use water which is so hot it will burn your skin. To be clear, never use boiling water as it will do more harm than good.

Use petroleum jelly to remove expansive foam stains

Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is another product with which, when used properly, you can remove polyurethane spray foam from your hands. At oneHOWTO we recommend that you follow these steps to achieve it effectively:

  1. Rub a decent amount of petroleum jelly on the foam residue.
  2. Cover your hands with a plastic glove. In this way, the petroleum jelly will soften this expansive material and it will come off more easily.
  3. Wait up to an hour for the petroleum jelly to take effect on the remaining foam.
  4. Take off your gloves and wash your hands with hot soapy water. If small debris remains, you can scratch it off with a nail file or similar object.

If you don't have any readily available, you can read our article to find out how to make Vaseline at home. You can also take a look at this article on how to use Vaseline on your face to see what other uses it has.

How to Remove Polyurethane Spray Foam From Your Hands - Use petroleum jelly to remove expansive foam stains

How long does it take for polyurethane spray foam to dry?

The drying times for polyurethane foam vary depending on the application. The surface layer of the product hardens in approximately 10-20 minutes. This should be sufficient time you to easily remove the foam from your hands. For the polyurethane foam to dry completely, it will take a minimum of 90 minutes. The larger the amount of spray foam, the longer the drying process will take. This will be the same if using a known brand like Great Stuff or even the own-brand version.

When applying the insulating polyurethane spray foam to different surfaces, ensure your wear gloves. This is the best way to prevent the substances getting on your hands. As we have stated, dry foam on your hands is more difficult to remove than when it is wet. This is why you should have a clean rag with your when working to remove the wet foam as quickly as possible.

If the spray foam has dried on your skin, in addition to using the methods listed above, you should have a pumice stone. This will help to remove the really hard dried on pieces since the friction helps to break it down. Again, be careful not to damage your skin in the process.

Now that you know how to remove polyurethane spray foam from your hands you may want to know some tips on removing other stains. Our articles on how to remove oil stains from jeans and the best way to remove stains from a car seat might be helpful.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Remove Polyurethane Spray Foam From Your Hands, we recommend you visit our Home cleaning category.

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