Cleaning Up Epoxy

From Cozy Newsletter #83. Very good information. The main takeaways are:

  • Use barrier cream, replace it regularly.
  • Minimize the use of organic solvents as much as possible.
  • Use cheap paint brushes you can throw away.
  • Wipe squeegees with a paper towel. Let remaining epoxy cure, then sand it off with a belt sander.
  • Scissors: Wipe with a paper towel, then scrape away epoxy with a straight edge razor.

In the handling of chemicals, we urge caution. Epoxy resin, by itself, is inert and nonreactive. But the hardener has active ingredients, which you can become allergic to if you are not careful. So we recommend the use of barrier creams on your hands which are water soluble (hydrophilic) which you can wash off with soap and water, but are not penetrated by organic materials (oleophobic). Now when it comes to cleaning mixed epoxy from hands and tools, a word of caution. It is best to try to hold the use of organic solvents to an absolute minimum. MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) is a very powerful organic solvent. It will certainly remove epoxy from your skin and tools, but it can be deadly! It can penetrate your skin, and inhaling the vapors can also cause damage to internal organs. Acetone is a cousin of MEK. It isn’t quite as bad, but can still cause damage. So it is best to avoid the use of solvents as much as possible. How do you do this? Use barrier cream on your hands, and try not to soak your hands in epoxy, and replace the barrier cream quite regularly. Wash it off with soap and water. You can use gloves, but not latex gloves, because they can also cause allergies.

When it comes to tools, for paint brushes, use a cheap variety that you can throw away. If you insist on using them more than once, washing with hot water (really hot) and soap works very well. You can store them in a large bottle with a little solvent for later use, or you can wrap them in plastic and put them in your freezer. With squeegees, wipe them with a paper towel. Rather than using solvents, let any remaining epoxy cure and then sand it off with your belt sander. With scissors, you can wipe them off, and periodically scrape any cured epoxy off with a straight edge razor. Builders report that apple cider vinegar cuts epoxy very well on hands or tools, but we have never tried this. Vinegar is acid, so it should be neutralized or flushed later.

Last updated: 2021-08-02 18:00:57 -0700