How To Remove Old Silicone Caulk From Tub?

In modern days, a bathroom is valued no less than a bedroom considering its usefulness. Millions of dollars are being invested in the interior of your favorite private place. When we install a bathtub, we follow various techniques to increase the durability of it.

Caulking around the tub is one of those actions. The material caulk can be described as an adhesive with great sealing properties. However, caulks around the tub looks hideous when it starts to peel away.

Before re-caulking, it is a must to remove the damaged old caulks. The process is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience, but the hard work is worth it and changes the look of the tub entirely.

The Purpose Of Caulking

Caulking is an age-old method used for centuries. The material caulk is a waterproof filler that offers a watertight, airtight and non-absorbent seal. This sealer is used to prevent air, steam, gas, water or any other liquid materials from passing between two substances.

Various household arena like floor, attic, wall, etc. uses caulking but it is mostly used in a bathroom where water usage is higher. Especially, silicone caulk is exemplary for situations where water spillage or water damage might take place.

Water leakage is a common problem around sink and tubs if not caulked and reduces the longevity of the parts by continuous penetration. Because of its rubber type consistency, silicon caulk ensures a watertight seal to keep your bathroom protected.

Interesting Historical Background

The idea of caulking was first evolved by mariners centuries back. Caulking is a crucial task for the ships to avoid sinking caused by water leakage in the joints of the ship. Of course, no fancy caulking material was available by then.

They used to apply feverish pitch on the critical joints of the ship to avoid any kind of water penetration and keep the ship floating.  But it was not easy to always keep the pitch hot. The sailors had to struggle with nature like rain, wind, storm to keep the hot pitch functioning.

There is a common phrase we all heard of, "There is the devil to pay." This phrase was originated from this caulking method. The major points were named as "The Devil" and to pay means to put hot pitch on it.

However, we should pay tribute to those brave sailor men whose hard work has eventually lead to the usage of caulks. Now caulking can be done in the easiest possible way to keep our belongings protected.

Types Of Caulking Material

The primary function of caulk is to seal the gaps between the exterior and interior of our household surfaces, especially which are prone to water. However, wide varieties of materials are used for caulking such as:

  • Silicon: This is the most durable among the rest. It can be used on metal, ceramic, wood and fiberglass. 
  • Latex: Latex is suitable for indoor use only.
  • Acrylic Latex: It is good for both indoor and outdoor use.
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    Butyl Rubber: This form of rubber is suitable for covering wider gaps up to 1/4 inch.
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    Oil Based Asphalt: For heavy duty repair jobs, asphalt works the best. 

The Need For Caulk Removal

As advertised, most of the silicon caulking products are supposed to sustain at least for 20 years. But in reality that rarely happens! Excessive moisture causes the caulk to fall off prematurely.

Apart from the functional problems, it creates a nasty look with the half ripped off caulk especially if it is discolored with dirt. No matter how expensive your bathroom fitting is, the impression of your tiny precious place will be ruined by the weary silicone caulk!

Also if the caulk is damaged, it means the seal is broken, and water penetration will take place throughout the bathroom creating slippery floor and risking the user as well as damaging the fittings overtime. So there should not be any delay in re-caulking for your safety.

Caulk Removing Process

The process of caulking is more comfortable than the removing process. Removing requires patience and concentration to complete the task. Remember if it's not cleaned correctly, your next caulking will not be adjusted to the surface. 

1. Caulk Removing Process Using Chemicals

Caulk removing using chemicals is the easiest of them all, but you will need to be careful as chemicals can cause damage if not handled carefully.


  • Surface cleaner/soap scum remover/caulk remover
  • Utility knife
  • Needle nose pliers
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    Dry paper towel/microfiber
  • Bleach

Removing Process

At the beginning of the process, you have to apply any caulk remover or surface cleaner to make the caulk turn soft. Though the directions on the package will tell you to keep 2-3 hours, it's safe to keep it overnight for easy peeling off.

Then, grab a utility knife with sharp blade and cut the softened caulk little by little. This step has to be done very carefully because if the knife slips, it may damage the surface or the tub. The good thing is silicon usually caulks easy to peel off.

Small broken pieces might still be left behind even after cutting through. You can utilize a needle nose pliers to remove the remaining caulking pieces. 

Cleaning Process

Upon completing the peeling off process, merely use a toothbrush to scrub away any remaining residue.

Use a light amount of surface cleaner or liquid soap on a dry paper towel/microfiber and wipe off the area. Some people prefer ammonia-based cleansers, but that should be strictly avoided.

Because, in later steps, bleach will be used and combining with bleach it creates a toxic fume.

The final step is to clean the mildew. You can clean the mildew by preparing a solution consisting of bleach and water. The measurement is - 1/3 cup of bleach has to be mixed with 1 gallon of water. 

Simply spray the solution on the surface and scrub it. Then wipe it off using a fresh microfiber. Hence the process is completed.

2. Caulk Removing Process Without Using Chemicals

If you want to be eco-friendly, there is a simple method to remove the silicone caulks.


  • Hairdryer
  • Razor scraper


Put the hairdryer on highest heat and directly blow on the caulks for about a minute.

Once the caulk is softened, use the razor scraper to peel off the caulk.

Wipe the surface with a paper towel.

So it is not rocket science to remove caulk from a tub. You can go for either of the chemical or chemical-free process to have your caulks removed. 


Please remember that even any tiniest particle of your old caulk remaining on the surface will stave off the new caulk from attaching.

Hence it is utmost important to be calm and have patience while removing it. As discussed above, the process is pretty simple, and the tools are easily available at any hardware store.

A sound mind is correlated to the soundness of your surroundings and your natural hygiene and sanitation. Bathroom maintenance should be given the highest priority because of these two reasons which are vital to anyone’s health.

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