Wrench Tips #25:
How to Clean Up That Nasty Butyl Tape Vapor Barrier Goo
by Dave Coleman
It's worse than Aunt Jemima's. That nasty butyl tape goo that's used to hold the plastic vapor barrier sandwiched between the interior door panel and the the door itself. The goo gets on your fingers and tools and follows you around for weeks. Try to clean it up with Simple Green or even brake cleaner and it will laugh at you. It turns out there is a simple, if a little tedious, way to clean this stuff off your doors.
Of course, if you're gong to re-use the vapor barrier, or even install a new one, you can usually just leave the goo on the door and stick the new plastic sheet down. If you want to remove it completely, first start by grabbing a pinch of it and trying to yank it off quickly. Pull slowly and it will just stretch, but yank quickly, and sometimes it will actually pull a chunk off the door. Keep rolling these chunks of goo into a bigger and bigger ball, and stick that ball to the goo on the door to yank even more off.
This will get the biggest volume of goo off, but after that, you'll still need a cleaner to get the massive amounts of residue off the door. The one cleaner that can defeat the goo isn't supposed to be a cleaner at all: WD-40.
Generous amounts of WD40, and lots of paper towels will finally get you a clean door, like this. Of course, now the door is covered with WD-40, so you'll have to clean that off with some Simple Green.
Butyl tape is also impervious to most hand cleaners, so you'll eventually have to turn that can of WD-40 on yourself.
If you ever want to stick that vapor barrier back down, this is the stuff you were just cleaning up:
Want to read more of this nonsense? Click Wrench Tips on the Tech dropdown, just like this here picture: