Carpet has long been a common floor covering due to its easy maintenance and comfort. However, more and more homeowners are ripping up their carpet in favor of the underlying wood or concrete, which could become problematic if you’re dealing with old carpet glue stuck to the floor. 

In the article, we’ll detail a number of methods for effectively removing old carpet glue residue from both wood and concrete floors.

A Warning About Asbestos

Before the 1990s, adhesives, including those used for carpet, were often made using asbestos. Asbestos can cause lung diseases like mesothelioma if inhaled over time. Be sure to test any older adhesive residues before attempting to scrape or chip, as this could release dangerous asbestos particles into the air.

Consider hiring a professional asbestos abatement company if you suspect asbestos may be present. It will have the proper equipment and training to remove asbestos safely. We don’t recommend DIY asbestos removal.

Removing Carpet Glue from Concrete

Concrete floors are becoming increasingly popular for their durability and industrial vibe. But glue remnants from your old carpet can leave a sticky, dirty mess that prevents you from refinishing and enjoying the exposed concrete.

The method we lay out in the dropdown tabs below is one of the most common and eco-friendly ways to remove glue residue from concrete.

You’ll need several items for glue removal:

  • Container of boiling water
  • Scraper (such as a spackling tool or hoe)
  • Push broom
  • Protective gear (rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles)

Be sure to wear old clothes you don’t mind getting messy. The glue residue can permanently stain clothing.

Begin by using your scraper to remove as much of the glue residue and remaining carpet fragments as possible. Hold the scraper at a 45-degree angle against the floor and apply firm downward pressure to lift the glue up.

Use the push broom to clear away the resulting debris. Sweep everything into one corner or area for easy cleanup.

Put protective clothing on first, and pour boiling water over patches of remaining glue in manageable sections. Don’t pour too much at once — the water will cool quickly. Let the water sit for several minutes to penetrate and soften the glue.

Using your scraper, gently work underneath the softened glue to lift it from the concrete surface. Hold the scraper at a 45-degree angle and use a firm but controlled motion.

For particularly difficult spots, you may need to add more boiling water to further soften the glue. Take your time on these stubborn patches of old glue.

Once you completely scrape up the glue, clear away any excess water with a towel or mop, then allow the floor to dry completely. Sweep away any remaining debris.

Inspect the floor when dry to catch any leftover glue spots.

Explore this Today’s Homeowner article for comprehensive information on concrete floors.

Removing Carpet Glue from Wood

You can use several methods to remove leftover carpet glue from a wood floor, but some require caution to avoid damaging the wood.

Lift Glue with Dry Ice

One of the more unusual ways to remove carpet glue is with dry ice. You must wear protective gloves and ensure the room is well-ventilated.

Place the dry ice on a cookie sheet and slide it over sections of glue residue. The extreme cold makes the glue brittle, so it chips off cleanly.

Use a plastic scraper to lift the brittle glue pieces. Avoid metal scrapers, which could gouge the wood.

Dissolve Glue with Solvents

Solvents easily soften glue but carry the risk of discoloring or otherwise damaging wood. They also require protective clothing and good ventilation. Different solvent products will be needed depending on the type of adhesive residue. Follow these steps to remove glue residue from wood with solvents:

  1. Determine if the adhesive is a general carpet glue (yellowish tint) or tar-based glue (brownish tint).
  2. Select the correct solvent product for the glue type. General adhesives are best removed using a solvent based on orange oil, such as Goo Gone. For tar-based adhesives, you’ll need to use mineral spirits.
  3. Apply the solvent as instructed on the product packaging. Let it sit to fully penetrate and soften the glue without letting the surface dry prematurely.
  4. Once softened, gently scrape away the glue with a plastic putty knife. 
  5. Scrub off any remaining residue with a solvent-soaked cloth. As a last resort, you may need a metal putty knife to remove the most stubborn glue residue but use care to avoid damage to the wood.
  6. Thoroughly clean the floor following the solvent label instructions. 

Unconventional Solvents

These household products can work as solvents for difficult glue spots, but they risk discoloring or damaging wood if overapplied:

  • Denatured alcohol (high risk, but effective on worst glue areas)
  • Paint remover (powerful but likely to cause wood damage)
  • Vegetable oil (can stain wood, but works on yellow glue with soft cloth)
  • WD-40 (effective if applied sparingly with a soft cloth and given time to soak)
Today’s Homeowner Tips

After using any of these solvents, thoroughly clean the wood and let it dry for 24 hours before refinishing or furnishing the room. This prevents trapped moisture from slowly warping the boards over time.

So, Is Removing Carpet Glue Worth the Effort?

Removing old carpet glue takes time and effort, but it’s worth it to enjoy beautiful wood or concrete floors. Exercise caution with solvents to avoid damage to wood floors. Consider hiring a professional if you’re unsure about DIY removal.

While it’s challenging, you can remove carpet glue yourself by taking proper safety precautions and using the right tools and techniques. With some elbow grease, you can reveal stunning concrete or wood flooring beneath gummy remnants of carpet glue.

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FAQs About Removing Carpet Glue

How Can You Test for Asbestos?

Pre-1990s adhesives often contain asbestos. To test any carpet adhesives you’re dealing with, purchase an asbestos test kit online or at your local home improvement store. These kits provide instructions for sending a glue sample to a lab for analysis.

What's the Best Scraper for the Job?

For concrete, use a floor scraper with a wide, stiff blade. On wood, plastic scrapers minimize scratches and gouges. Avoid metal blades on wood whenever possible.

Is There an Easy, Low-Effort Option for Removing Carpet Glue?

Unfortunately, removing old, dried carpet glue is nearly always labor-intensive. While boiling water and solvents can help soften the glue, you must still scrape after application. There are no shortcuts, but the work pays off in the end.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Carpet glue removal is not a quick project. The more dried and thick the glue, the more soaking and scraping is needed. Budget at least an hour for a small area. Larger rooms may take a full day or longer. Work slowly to avoid damaging the floor.

Can You Sand After Scraping Off the Glue?

Use a floor sander only on wood, not on concrete. For wood, light sanding after glue removal helps smooth any residue before refinishing, but don’t sand so aggressively that you erode the top layer of the wood.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Jonathon Jachura

Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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photo of Lee Ann Merrill

Lee Ann Merrill

Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

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