This is How to Remove Mod Podge: I tried 5 Methods so you Don’t have to

The full title of this post should be… “How to Remove Mod Podge from the Projects You Messed Up Because You Didn’t Read a Tutorial about How to Mod Podge before You Started Mod Podging“.

I mean it seems like this should be a simple thing. It’s just Mod Podge. How hard can it be to remove it.


Remember this:

and this:

Mod podge removal failure from a tray

Yes, I have had some Mod Podge woes, but, like the true Taurus I am, I’m not going to give up.  

My bullheadedness will not allow it.  

SO, the first failed mod podge project I’m working on is this mirror:

how to remove mod podge - The corner of the mirror I used mod podge on that needs to be fixed.

I wanted to try fixing the mirror first because it’s a more significant piece of decor than the tray.

As I thought about this project, I stalled on working on it again because I had recurring flashbacks of removing wallpaper every time I thought about scraping off the podged on paper.  

I have quite a bit of experience with removing wallpaper.  If you don’t believe me, check out my House Tour before and after pictures.  8 rooms of wallpaper, people. It’s not something I’m interested in reliving.

By the way, in the interest of saving some other wallpaper remover some time and energy, the best method I found was water, time and a scraper.  Spray down the walls with water, a pretty good soaking.

Let it sink in.  This part is key.
Impatience is not your friend here.

When the water has had a chance to penetrate the paper and glue, go to work with the scraper.  As much as I hated taking down wallpaper, there are few things in life that are more satisfying than scraping off a huge chunk of wallpaper.

Back to the Mod Podge removal.  

I ran a little kitchen experiment to see what might be the best way to remove the paper and glue.

5 Household Items I Used to Discover How to Remove Mod Podge

Here are the 5 items that I experimented with:

  • Plain Water
  • Vinegar and Water
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Water and Dish Detergent
  • Nail Polish Remover

Plain Water

The plain water did an ok job.  It definitely loosened up the glue and paper and I could peel pieces off:

Water bottle on top of the failed mirror project. How to remove mod podge.

Nothing to write home about, but doable if it’s all you have on hand to do the job.

And if it’s just a small piece you’re working on, then yes, this is a no brainer. Water will do the trick. But that mirror that I’m working is BIG.

And I wanted this done faster rather than slower :-).

Vinegar and Water

Next, I tried a vinegar and water mixture.  

I feel like with all of the amazing things I’ve seen online about using Vinegar for all sorts of things, that vinegar is some kind of magical potion. So it seemed like a good choice.

This had a slightly better result with larger pieces of paper coming off in one tug.

Very satisfying.

Vinegar Mod Podge Removal

Window Glass Cleaner

The next player in my mod podge game was a can of window glass cleaner I picked up on a whim at Home Depot.

It’s not a particularly good window glass cleaner, so I didn’t mind using a fair amount of it in this experiment.

(Little update on this glass cleaner. Lots of people love it as a glass cleaner, so I tried it again for my windows and it actually is great. It’s just different than cleaning with Windex, so read the directions!).

I got still bigger chunks of paper to come off with the glass cleaner and now I was starting to have fun.

(Oh my God did I just say I was starting to have fun removing paper from a mirror frame? The fumes have to be getting to me).

Glass Cleaner Mod Podge Removal

Dish Soap & Water

On to the Dish Soap and Water.  

This was probably about equal to the Glass Cleaner.  

Definitely somewhat satisfying to pull nice long pieces of paper off in one swoop.  

This did seem to leave behind more of the Mod Podge residue than either the vinegar or the glass cleaner, however.

And more residue is not fun, but! I am going to recover the frame of this mirror at some point, so I’m not super concerned about.

If you’re trying this method and you are NOT planning to recover whatever you’re removing the mod podge from, keep this in mind. You’re going to have some scrubbing to do.

Dish Soap Mod Podge Removal

Nail Polish Remover

The clear winner when it comes to sheer size of pieces of paper and gunk removed was the nail polish remover.  

I was nearly giddy as I ripped off large, long chunks of paper.  

It took a good bit of the residue up as well.  

The only downfall to this one is the stinky nail polish remover smell.  

I should also note that I was not working on a wood surface.  I would not recommend this for anything that has wood under whatever you Mod Podged.

Nail Polish Remover Mod Podge Removal

The Best Thing to Use for Removing Mod Podge

My overall choice, despite the fact that the nail polish was SUPER satisfying as far as the peeling of giant pieces goes, would be the dish soap and water combo.

  1. It is safe on almost any material.
  2. It doesn’t smell yucky
  3. It’s something you can find in pretty much every sink area in North America.

Now, I have to be honest, this mod podge removal process was not over after just the dish soap and water.

Once I had removed those large pieces, I went in with an exacto scraper and picked off pieces of paper that were left behind.  

I then went back and wiped it down a few times with the glass cleaner.  

The glass cleaner is a foam consistency and stuck to the sides of the frame while I cleaned which made it a little easier and a lot less messy.

I am now left with a nearly back to normal, giant 1980’s frame.  

Yes, my plan is to try the whole thing again, this time with INSTRUCTIONS and different paper.  

Can’t wait to share the after, good or bad!

6 thoughts on “This is How to Remove Mod Podge: I tried 5 Methods so you Don’t have to”

  1. Hey Amanda!

    Thanks for the tips! I’ll have to try another mod podge project. 🙂

    You know, long after I wrote that post, I was desperate and tried the glass cleaner on glass again and you’re right, it’s excellent.


  2. I have to say.. that spray glass cleaner from Home Depot is actually AMAZING if you spray it on your eye glasses and rinse with warm/hot water. Then dry with a tea towel. (Or something with out fuzz)
    I also had the big bubbles on some projects I was doing. After it dried for a bit, I simply used an exacto knife to make some slits in the paper. I added some extra mod podge under the paper, pressed it down and put more mod podge on top. I did have to use my fingers to push it down and hold it for a bit. I try to cut it on a line, so you cant see it. Sometimes it doesnt always work that way, but it gave my project a more distressed look.
    Thank you for posting this. I’ve screwed up a few times myself. 🙂

  3. Hi Tina! I actually have not tried it again! I’ll have to find some different paper and give it a go again. I’d love to see your finished product!


  4. Thanks for sharing. I too am stuck with some experiments on serving trays made with my art. I’m curious how your’s turned out? I think I may be finally getting mine down after fighting wrinkled modge podge experiments.

  5. Hi Genoveva!

    I haven’t tried removing it from wood. I’m little scared of putting too much water on wood. :-(. What did you make??


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