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How to remove old silicone sealant

Over time, even the best-applied sealant becomes discoloured or even mouldy. How do you go about removing it without damaging your bathroom?



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Out with the old

If you are looking to renew the sealant in your bathroom, you will need to firstly completely remove what is already there, as you cannot apply new sealant on top of the old.

It might look easy, but removing sealant from baths, sinks and shower screens needs to be done with the right tools to be effective. You will need a sharp knife, a chisel, goggles and some thick gloves to enable you to gently slice away the old silicone sealant until as much as possible has been removed. Cut along the top and bottom of the silicone with the knife and then use the chisel against the tiles to run along the sealant and remove it.

The Guardian says that sealant is hard to remove and it is best to cut it out with a sharp, singled-edge blade; however, you will need to leave a thin film of the sealant to prevent damaging your bath. This can be removed by rubbing with a scourer and warm, soapy water.

You could also use your finger to rub it off, or use some white spirit. There are also sealant removal products available that can be applied and left on. You can get advice from experts such as

These products eat away at any remaining silicone, removing some of the elbow grease required – which can take some time! They weaken the bond of the silicone, making it easier to scrape or rub away, but be sure do a small test patch first.


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In with the new

Once the joint is completely clear, has been wiped and is totally dry, you can go about resealing. You will need to insert the new tube of sealant into a gun, cut off the top on an angle, and squeeze the trigger until the sealant comes out of the top.

Clean off any excess before positioning the tube along the joint and squeezing the trigger as you move along it. This can be neatened up by wetting your finger and running it along the top of the silicone, pushing it into the joint for a smooth finish.