How to clean melted polyester off of glass
October 29, 2006 11:48 AM   Subscribe

How do I remove melted polyester fabric from the glass window of a propane fireplace?

So, this morning, my daughter felt it was necessary to warm herself by the fire with her Barbie nightgown on. Luckily, she's just fine, but her nightgown, from the middle of her back down to the floor, has a huge melted hole in it.

The glass front of the fireplace has melted polyester mess on it, now. I've tried firing it up this afternoon until it was a gummy and soft mess, and scraping it off with a metal spatula, but that had limited success. I feel as if I'm just moving it around on the glass. I'm also worried about scoring the glass with the spatula. Unfortunately, plastic utensils don't seem to do anything to it, and I'm worried that they're just going to melt onto the hot glass as well.

Doing anything with the glass while it's cooled down doesn't seem to be effective at all.

Is there a compound or some method of removal that can get this off the glass? Bonus points if you can get me a solution in the next 3 hours, before my son's birthday party guests arrive.
posted by thanotopsis to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Have you tried acetone, which is just regular nailpolish remover? I think polyester dissolves in acetone.

Be careful the fireplace is cold when you clean it and all the acetone has evaporated before you light it up again, as acetone is highly flammable.
posted by fvw at 12:05 PM on October 29, 2006

Razor blade? A spatula seems a little blunt for adhesive.
posted by Brian B. at 12:32 PM on October 29, 2006

Razor blade was my first thought. You can usually buy holders for them at the hardware store for this purpose. I would try to scrape while the fireplace was cold.
posted by davey_darling at 1:54 PM on October 29, 2006

Best answer: Don't reheat the doors to soften the melted material.

Polyester fiber used in children's sleepwear typically has a melting point of about 265° C (about 590° F), but much of it also has additional flame retardants injected as additives during manufacture, to maintain flame retardant characteristics through wash and wear through the life of the garment. Without any intent to sound judgemental or harsh, these additional additives and the natural tendency of polyester to melt away from an ignition source may be the reasons the child is not badly burned. But, once the fiber has melted, much of the anti-flame characteristics are gone. Heating the material to plasticity thereafter is the precursor condition for outgassing of semi-volatile gases and processes of destructive distallation, leading to additional fuel gas production.

In other words, heating the material up to make it "soft" is a great way to set it on fire, and cause it to outgas toxic chemicals while doing so. While there are probably only a few grams of material residue on the doors, you don't want to have that material turn into noxious combustion product in your living room. If you can't clean the doors while stone cold, with water based detergent solutions or purpose made glass fireplace door cleaning compounds, replace the doors, and count yourself lucky no greater damage was done. If you scratch the doors in attempting to clean them, replace the doors as well, as heating and cooling scratched glass encourages breakage, which can be very dangerous if the glass breaks out into the room, while very hot.
posted by paulsc at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2006

A steel spatula is too hard; you do risk scratching your glass by using one, and paulsc is not overstating the risk of a scratched fireplace pane.

You could try the edge of a silverplated spoon when the glass is cold. If you can get it down to a film, you can remove that with copper or brass mesh and Bon Ami, but make sure the mesh is not plated steel.
posted by jamjam at 2:40 PM on October 29, 2006

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