How to Remove Spray Foam from Surfaces and Skin

Updated: Apr. 21, 2023

Get rid of spray foam overspray with this cheap and simple trick.

Though it’s most common application is for home insulation, spray foam is one of those miracle products that every DIYer needs to have in their tool box. There are so many uses for spray foam, from filling cracks to setting fence posts. However, one errant turn of the wrist can lead to a sticky mess, leaving the stuff where you don’t want it. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to remove.

What Is Spray Foam?

A type of expanding insulation, at its essence, spray foam is a chemical product made from isocyanate and polyol resin. When those two chemical compounds react to each other, when they’re sprayed out of the can, they expand up to 60 times their liquid volume.

Remove Spray Foam

How to Remove Spray Foam

No matter how careful you try to be, a little bit of spray foam always seems to find its way onto surfaces where it’s not suppose to be. But not to worry, if you’ve created an unintentional sticky mess, clean it up with acetone. A little acetone squirted on fresh foam will dissolve it instantly.

No acetone on hand? Acetone is what most nail polish removers are made of. But make sure you get to the foam before it hardens.

When you’re removing spray foam, you should wear a mask to prevent from breathing in the particles stirred up by the process of cleaning it. And if you’re using acetone to clean it up, a mask will help keep you from inhaling the vapors from that stuff too.

Using Acetone Safely

Acetone is extremely flammable, so you should not use it around an open flame or other heat sources that could potentially cause a fire. Always keep the lid sealed tightly when you’re not using, and store it in a cool, well-ventilated space. And remember to keep it off your skin and don’t ingest it.

How to Remove Dried Spray Foam

If your spray foam mess has dried out, you can start cleaning it up by cutting away as much of it as you can. Just use a putty knife, a saw, or another appropriate cutting tool. A hard-bristled brush will also help you remove dried spray foam, especially if you can’t get at it with a cutting tool.

Once you’ve removed as much of it as possible via that route, you can then break out the acetone to take care of the rest.

How to Get Spray Foam Off Your Hands

To start, wear gloves and make sure you don’t have exposed skin when you’re working with spray foam.

Again, acetone is the best option here. Apply some to a clean cloth and wipe the spray foam off your skin. Then, immediately wash yourself with soap and water.

If the spray foam has dried, it’s going to be harder to remove. One method is to use oil and baking soda. Rub oil (cooking oil will work fine) into your hands and then pour baking soda onto them. Rub it all together and let it sit for a few minutes before washing your hands with soap and water.

Another method is to rub the dried spray foam with a pumice stone or an emery board. Gently scrap it, being careful not to remove your skin too. That should loosen up most of it, and then you can wash your hands with soap and water.

If all else fails, the dried spray foam will eventually come off your hands with time.