Can I hot glue onto plastic animals and then peel off hotglue?
April 16, 2024 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I am going to make some hats like these for plastic animals for a birthday cake [If you don't want to bother clicking, they're just little paper birthday hats). I was thinking it sure would be convenient to hot glue the hats onto the animals. If I do, will I be able to just peel/pull the glue off afterwards without damaging the animals?
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
I think this depends on what kind of plastic the animals are made of and whether they're solid colored plastic or painted. You could melt the plastic or peel off the paint.

What about just sticking them on with a little cake frosting?
posted by mskyle at 12:11 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]

Usually, yes -- once it's hard, hot glue can be peeled off of hard, non-porous surfaces relatively easily. I glue things on top of plastic cutting boards and then pick the hot glue that escapes me off later. You can coax it with vinegar or rubbing alcohol or acetone -- rubbing alcohol or acetone might damage the plastic, though, so vinegar is your safest bet.

That said:

If the animals are not smooth, hot glue will get in the textures and may or may not peel off. Some of my cutting boards have a purposefully rough surface and peeling the glue is hard.
If the animals are painted, hot glue will probably peel the paint unless it is very well sealed.

Maybe try it on one -- a less favoured animal or a new one bought for the purpose and see how it goes. Leave it to dry at least overnight before trying to remove.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:24 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

a little bit of museum putty might be another good option. or, depending on size, a little piece of masking tape rolled up sticky side out
posted by ewok_academy at 12:40 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

One option is 3M 3798 LM, aka 'booger glue', that sticks your fresh bank card to paper for mailing. Unfortunately it requires a low temperature glue gun such as the discontinued 3m Polygun LM... it was ugly-expensive even 2nd hand on eBay.
posted by tinker at 3:50 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

Freezing is often suggested as a way to remove hot glue, but I haven't tried it myself. Doing a test is a good idea.
posted by hydrophonic at 3:53 PM on April 16

A ball of picture putty that equals the interior circumference of the hat.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:53 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]

Use rubber cement (the jar with the brush). It will stick just fine then you can just yoink and rub it off.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:32 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]

Hot glue "sets" but also doesn't fully set for a period of time depending on hot glue type (eg. cold hot glue), amount of hot glue used (still warm on the inside say), external temps, amount of "spillage" (placing the bond on the one surface and lightly bonding the other surface for minimal contact) and of course exact bonding materials etc. If you could do a test run and/or keep time from glueing to unglued to a minimum that could help alot. And if it remnants/glue are left Google before trying metho/eucalyptus oil/ironing/more glue/time/freezing/ whatever as all of those above factors will influence the best cleaning process but could also work or not work and cannot be undone.
posted by Lesium at 4:33 AM on April 17

Alternatives, as it clearly doesn't have to hold a sombrero onto a donkey's head in a hurricane:
- white wood glue
- glue stick (the stuff for glueing pieces of paper together)
- that chewinggum-like stuff for sticking notes and other bits of paper to a wall
- and actually just about any single-component glue that doesn't contain organic solvents
posted by Stoneshop at 11:05 AM on April 17

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