Is naptha (lighter fluid) safe to clean windows?
June 6, 2013 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I have some masking tape adhesive residue on my windows. They are vinyl windows double pane with argon gas inside. I use naptha with is lighter fluid although I use the actual stuff from a paint store to remove adhesive on other stuff it works well. It is safe on plastic. What I'm wondering will it damage the stuff that holds the glass panels to the frame (I think its silicone not sure though) I dont want it to get damaged and let the argon gas leak out.
posted by john123357 to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd go get a bottle of Goo Gone from the hardware store. That's the right stuff for this task.
posted by w0mbat at 10:53 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: goo gone is a stronger solvent than naptha and less safe for this task, plus it leaves a residue and naptha dosent
posted by john123357 at 10:56 AM on June 6, 2013

Goo Gone is just about as cheap as lighter fluid. Cleaning your windows is likely not an emergency that prevents you from buying Goo Gone. Go Gone will probably give you less cancer. Buy some Goo Gone.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:57 AM on June 6, 2013

and after your reply, I am not sure that I have given you good advice. Sorry.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Personally I'd use a wd-40 soaked rag, then clean up the residue carefully with a rubbing alcohol soaked rag. But that's just me.

If you're careful, a naphtha soaked rag could work for this too. But my method won't get anything that could potentially damage the adhesive even close to it.

The main advice here is just get a little bit on a rag that doesn't even have a chance to drip, never apply it to the window. Even if you have to do multiple rounds of slightly wetting the rag, rubbing, etc its better for this to be a really controlled situation as far as your solvent and cleanup goes.
posted by emptythought at 11:04 AM on June 6, 2013

Oxyclean removed the dry caked on beer sediment on my beer bottles when soap and water failed. You could try oxyclean to remove the adhesive.
posted by DetriusXii at 11:04 AM on June 6, 2013

Is the residue on the window pane? If so, apply the naphtha carefully with a q-tip or cotton ball or small paintbrush (whatever makes the most sense) so that it doesn't drip. If the window panes are glass it would probably be easiest to use a razor blade to remove the residue.
posted by payoto at 11:06 AM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: It is all over, on the glass and the fame
posted by john123357 at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2013

If you can't avoid contact with the frame and insist on using naphtha, figure out who manufactured the windows (there may be a label or a brand stamped on hardware, like the lock) and ask them this question. Without knowing what the substance is holding the panes in place it seems unlikely anyone can give you a definite answer on whether naphtha is safe.
posted by payoto at 11:12 AM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: For warranty reasons they are unlikely to recommend using any strong cleaner so thats not helpful. What I need to know is does naptha damage silicone or any glazing compounds?
posted by john123357 at 11:18 AM on June 6, 2013

Mod note: Folks please answer the question being asked.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on June 6, 2013

Naptha is likely to have a softening effect on the caulk, especially if it is silicone. Here is a relevant conversation from a PC modding forum where someone had the opposite problem: they wanted to remove some silicone. Naphtha was found to be the most effective:
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:00 PM on June 6, 2013

Naphtha, like many organic solvents, can soften silicone but I don't think it will "digest" or break it down. However, there can be butyl rubber used in or with the sealant which the naphtha will attack and dissolve. Without knowing more about what was used to construct the windows, I would advise caution in using this solvent on or near seals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: So if it "softens" it, is it enough to have the argon leak out? Also naptha evaporates fairly quickly so for it to soften does it have to soak in it or will just a wipe down soften it?
posted by john123357 at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2013

I imagine only the window manufacturer is going to be able to definitively state whether naptha will damage those particular seals. Lacking that information from them, I'd suggest not using naptha for this task. I know that if I were looking to remove adhesive residue from some expensive windows and I wasn't 100% sure that naptha was safe, I'd use peanut butter or vegetable oil. They'll take longer, but they'll remove the residue and are much less likely to attack the caulking.
posted by chazlarson at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2013

I think you will probably need to talk to the window manufacturer to find out the composition of the seals. There is no way anyone here can answer that with any certainty. If you are worried about getting a generic answer or warning from them, you do not need to specify the purpose of your question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: Will kerosene damage silicone?
posted by john123357 at 12:36 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is a non-polar organic solvent, like those found in naphtha, and will likely cause silicone to soften and swell. This could cause the seal to fail.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: why would naptha damage silicone but not plastic?
posted by john123357 at 12:52 PM on June 6, 2013

Mod note: OP please stick to your question and updates to you question. This is not a discussion forum for you to continually ask questions You can follow up with specific commenters over MeMail.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2013

I'm not sure if you are wondering if solvents you have applied have done damage, or if you are looking for an alternative. One trick that might help--though it sounds counter-intuitive is to use newspaper as if it were paper towels. So, use a glass cleaner like Glass Plus or Windex and then use the newspaper as your towel. The newspaper is mildly abrasive and will really clean the windows well. Somehow the ink doesn't smear like you might think it will. For big chunks of adhesive you could use a scraper or razor blade -- a sharp plastic scraper will work if you are afraid of using a bare blade. You might also try a cleaner like Simple Green first before going back over the window with the glass cleaner and newspaper.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:54 PM on June 6, 2013

I've found that vegetable oil is as effective as anything else for removing tape adhesive residue. Just rub it in with a paper towel or newspaper. Naturally you have to wash it off but that wouldn't be a problem on glass.
posted by stowaway at 1:35 PM on June 6, 2013

If it's a one time use thing you should be fine. Just don't drench the panes with naptha, use a light touch and patience. be sure to wear protective gloves -- naptha is easily absorbed through skin.
posted by Max Power at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2013

I would use something water based like rubbing alcohol or some kind of "orange power" cleaner.

Also, scrape whatever you can off first with the edge of a credit card. (Not a metal blade, this can scratch glass.)
posted by gjc at 3:02 PM on June 6, 2013

Response by poster: My windows are Low E coated, is there a risk of removing the coating if i scrape the glass?
posted by john123357 at 11:48 PM on July 3, 2013

« Older Adventures in job-searching   |   I know they're nice, but they're not for me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.