You may have the skills for cleaning up most of your kids’ spills and messes, but getting Silly Putty out of clothes and fabric could be a challenge. Because it’s oily and gooey, a Silly Putty stain needs special treatment.
So what is Silly Putty made from, anyway? Believe it or not, one of the most popular toys ever made was actually an accident!
In 1943, General Electric tasked one of its scientists with creating a synthetic rubber substitute. The scientist dropped boric acid into silicone oil, which produced a sticky, stretchy goo he named “nutty putty.”
This accidental discovery wasn’t a substitute for synthetic rubber, but it was the prototype for a fun toy. General Electric sold the rights to the scientist, who renamed it Silly Putty. The rest is history—unlike that Silly Putty embedded in your couch or jeans!
So why is it hard to get Silly Putty out of clothes and fabric? Consider the ingredients and how Silly Putty works. The silicone oil in the formula creates stains just like grease, and the sticky, stretchy goo binds to fibers. Think of it as a stain that’s flexible and won’t let go. But with the right cleaning products and some know-how, you can learn how to get Silly Putty out of clothes, upholstery, and just about anything else.
Here’s what you need to tackle Silly Putty stains on most fabrics and clothes:
- A butter knife
- Ice cubes
- Liquid dish soap
- Cotton balls
- Hand sanitizer
- Rubbing alcohol
- White vinegar
Use your butter knife to remove excess Silly Putty from the fabric. Freeze the remaining stain with ice so the Silly Putty shrinks and pulls away from the fibers. Gently pull and scrape the hardened putty and be careful not to overstretch or tear the fabric. Once you’ve removed the solids, you should be able to see the oily part of the stain.
Test your stain remover on an inconspicuous area of the fabric. If it’s safe, gently work your stain remover into the oil stain to break down and lift it out of the fibers. Mix a small amount of water and liquid dish soap and use a microfiber cloth to scrub out any remaining solids and oily residue.
If you like this article, you might also like...
Request An Estimate
If you’re removing Silly Putty from clothes, the last step is to wash the garment as you usually do. For upholstery, carpet, and other fabrics you can’t wash, dab the damp area dry with a paper towel.
Five Ways to Get Silly Putty Out of Clothes
There’s no doubt many commercial stain removers do an outstanding job tackling stains on carpet, upholstery, and clothes. These cleaning wonders make getting rid of most stains easy and convenient. But at what cost?
Most store-bought stain removers work so well because they are packed with powerful chemicals—chemicals that can also affect your health. And think about how easy it is to ingest or spread those chemicals around your home. You likely rub stain remover into the fabric with your fingers, breathe the tiny droplets when you spray them, and wear clothes with chemical residues that can linger even after washing.
You can get Silly Putty and plenty of other stains out of furniture, clothes, and carpet without using harsh, potentially dangerous chemicals. When you’re thinking about how to get putty out of clothes, skip the commercial stain remover—try these safe and effective stain treatments first. No matter what stain remover you choose, remember to scrape away excess Silly Putty first and work quickly.
Hand sanitizer is a good first choice to get Silly Putty out of fabric. These sanitizing solutions typically contain about 65 percent ethanol, so there is enough power to break down most stains without being too harsh. Hand sanitizer dissolves Silly Putty quickly and then evaporates, making it easy to scrub away the stain.
Because hand sanitizer may contain other ingredients like aloe vera and fragrance, it can stain some fabric, especially if you let it sit too long. Test an out-of-the-way spot before you use the hand sanitizer on the Silly Putty stain. If it’s safe to proceed, pour just enough hand sanitizer on the stain to cover it. The alcohol breaks down the stain quickly, so scrape immediately after you apply the hand sanitizer. If the stain doesn’t come out, move on to your ice and liquid dish soap.
2. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol’s consistency is thinner than hand sanitizer, so be careful not to overdo it—you might end up spreading the Silly Putty stain as it dissolves. Don’t pour rubbing alcohol directly on the stain. Instead, soak some cotton balls in the rubbing alcohol and put them on the stain. Once the Silly Putty begins breaking down, scrape it away and follow up with ice and dish soap if needed.
Rubbing alcohol looks clear and pure, but it can contain other ingredients like dyes that can stain fabrics. Spot test an area first before you work on the Silly Putty stain. Although rubbing alcohol can act as a mild bleach, it should be safe on most types of fabrics if you work quickly. Wash garments right away and remove the alcohol residue on upholstery and other fabric with your dish soap.
3. White Vinegar
White vinegar is a natural solution for removing stains from carpet, fabric, and surfaces. It’s a safe and effective disinfectant and cleaner you can use all over the house—and on Silly Putty. Vinegar’s stain lifting power makes it an ideal solution because it’s gentler than most stain removers. White vinegar won’t usually stain fabrics, but because it’s acidic, never use it full strength for cleaning or removing stains. Always mix it with water and be careful not to soak upholstery and other fabrics too much.
Mix 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water, dampen a cloth with the stain remover, and rub the stain gently. Scrape the goo away and gently pull it out of the fabric as it dissolves. To get rid of the lingering vinegar odor on fabrics you can’t wash, use baking soda to scrub the area lightly, dab dry, and vacuum up the rest. If you’re getting Silly Putty out of clothes, wash them like normal and use a half-cup of vinegar in the washer for a cleaning boost and brighter whites.
Pour just enough vodka on the stain to cover it. Scrape away excess goo and gently rub the vodka into the stain. The alcohol will evaporate fast, so move quickly. Follow up with dish soap and water on upholstery and throw garments in the wash.
Using vodka for removing stains like Silly Putty doesn’t have to be expensive. Cheap vodka works just as well on stains as the premium brands. Just make sure to stay away from flavored vodka, because the sugars and dyes can dilute the stain-removing power and leave a sticky residue on your fabric.
Vodka is a safe cleaner and stain remover for carpet, upholstery, clothes, and other fabric. From red wine to Silly Putty, vodka breaks down stains quickly without harming the fabric.
WD-40 does a terrific job of breaking down greasy stains, loosening rusted bolts, and quieting squeaky doors—but it also gets out stains. If you’ve tried all of the above stain treatments for getting Silly Putty out of clothes or fabric and the stain is still there, it may be time for more drastic measures.
Only use WD-40 in a well-ventilated area. Because WD-40 is a petroleum product, it can stain clothes if not used cautiously. Don’t use it on delicates like silk or satin and be careful not to soak padding and other materials below upholstered furniture. Spray just enough WD-40 on the Silly Putty stain to cover it. If possible, spray both sides of the stain.
Let the WD-40 work on the stain for five minutes. Scrape away the dissolved Silly Putty and gently scrub out the rest of the stain, and the WD-40 residue, with dish soap and water. To get rid of the strong chemical odor of WD-40, wash the treated clothes immediately and use a damp cloth to remove the residue from upholstery.
The Maids is the only residential cleaning service to clean for health, and we’re committed to helping you enjoy a healthier, cleaner home. Check out our blog for other safe stain removal tips like how to get grass stains out of clothing, wine stains out of carpet, and more. And now that you know how to get Silly Putty out of fabric safely, why not find out more about healthy cleaning?