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When we posted about Great Stuff Spray Foam, readers commented on the difficulty of cleanup and the “single-use” nature of the cans.  One workaround is the “Pro” version, but it requires applicator guns and cleaner, which you don’t want to shell out for if you’re not getting paid for the job.  Reader Joe offers a cheaper solution: “Here’s what Dow tech support suggested about keeping a can reusable:

“One-component foams as GREAT STUFF(TM) do not lend themselves to re-use. Once a can has been used and allowed to sit for more than two hours, it will seal itself shut. This is indicated on the can’s label.

“It is possible to preserve a can of GREAT STUFF polyurethane foam sealant. Insert a pipe cleaner, soaked with WD-40, into the attached applicator straw (do not remove straw from can). Leave the pipe cleaner sticking out of the applicator straw approximately 1/4  inch. This has to be done within two hours of use. The WD-40 soaked pipe cleaner may preserve the can up to 30 days.”

Kudos, Joe, for enduring the technical support hold time, and many thanks for sharing the fruits of your labor!

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38 Responses to Reader Tip: Great Stuff Spray Foam

  1. fred says:

    This is a neat trick if it works. We use Fomo Products Handi-Foam and their dedicated guns that cost us anywhere from $60 (F61030) to $120 (F61110) bucks depending on the application. Have a few more of the $120 guns because we can use both canned foam and cylinders with this model. I can’t tell you how many have been rendered useless because the crew did not run the spray can of cleaner through the gun within the open-time of the foam. For some small jobs where I think the crew may be inattentive (ie. just throw the used gun in the back of the truck) we switch to the cheaper Fomo Gun (F61050) – which is about $15 but still not worth discarding on a regular basis

  2. bob cobb says:

    it doesn’t seal itself shut. All you need to do is take a drill bit and screw it into the foam until it gets a good grip on it, then pull it out. It should come out in one piece, but sometimes it doesnt. Worked great for me

  3. Jim German says:

    I’ve had good luck cleaning the nozzle with acetone before it dries, then the can lasts indefinitely until the next time I need it.

  4. Billy says:

    If you rinse everything out with acetone, it can be reused. Poor it back and forth through each end of the straw to clean it off. Also, take the straw off and poor it right down into the top of the can. That’s what I do.

  5. Brian says:

    I have had good luck putting a drywall screw (long enough to make a good seal) in the end of the straw immediately after use and storing it indefinitely. Usually just removing the screw from the end and it’s ready to go. Sometimes I need to poke a piece of wire in the straw to clean it but usually the old foam has shrunk and no longer blocks the straw.

    • ShellionessLove says:

      Exactly what I did after trying nail that shit out at the wall and a plug that just stuck to foam as it continued to come out. I screwed a larger than the straw size screw into the straw about four threads down and it actually worked.
      I was too hesitant to start mixing acetone with this and other chemicals to clean it and all that nonsense. I just cleaned it out then put the nail in the straw and guess what? The straw that was full of foam months later just came out with the screw and I used it over and over again the same way👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  6. Jim says:

    Right on the can the instructions state that acetome will dissolve the uncured product. As soon as I am done using a can I swish the straw applicator and the top of the can in a shallow pan of acetone. I have successfully re-used a can as many as four time before emptying it.

  7. Jim says:

    Sorry – that would be acetone that dissolves the uncured product

  8. Brad Hess says:

    I also use acetone. It works great!

  9. john smith says:

    Just take the can, tip it upside down and hold the trigger till the tube and nozzle
    are clear. Works great checked a can put away 3 years ago, its fine.
    For a wiggly extension, take a piece of tv cable pull out the center wire,
    carefully pull off the outer vinyl jacket and shield . Fit the tube into the jacket
    and fit the other over the supplied nozzle.

  10. jamie says:

    Take the straw off, and blow it out with your mouth from the threaded end. Then stick a screw into the blob of foam sticking out of the nozzle on the can.

    When you want to use it again, pull the foam/screw “plug” out, and cut a couple of inches off of the straw with an xacto knife.


  11. Frank, Mike says:

    Yeah, right on the can the instructions state that acetome will dissolve the uncured product. As soon as I am done using a can I swish the straw applicator and the top of the can in a shallow pan of acetone.

  12. diana says:

    I was just wondering how to clean some of that great stuff foam that got on my jacket.thank you

  13. Zathrus says:

    Diane — once it has cured there’s no way to get it completely off. Rip off what you can, sand off what you can, and either deal with the remainder or toss the jacket.

    Prior to it curing you can use acetate to dissolve it. But I’m quite sure it’s too late for that.

  14. BP says:

    Hi – thanks for all the great tips! Any idea how to get it off of wood? We just rented an apartment and the prior tenant (I swear it wasn’t me) used spray foam to seal their air conditioner in the window. Well, the house has central AC and a REALLY ugly dining room window now.

    Some big bubbles of it and a lot spread flat over the wood.

    Thanks in advance!

  15. jane says:

    @bp: Start with a putty knife and scrape the big chunks off. Then get some 80-grit sandpaper, sand it, and work your way up to a fine grit. You’ll need to refinish the wood – paint or varnish, whatever was on there before. Worked great for my exposed joists.

  16. Poppyo says:

    How to keep it off your hands? It sticks to everything; latex, vinyl, nitrile, etc. I got a doz. pr. of white cotton gloves and used a pr. several times. Can even clean the tubes w/ acetone w/ the gloves on! I’m almost happy now. Except that the tube on the last can I bought broke off the “finger hold” while getting it free from the plastic tape holding it on the can. Tech said the Seller should have extras. Both Big Box stores & the chain hardware store said, “of course not”. ?

  17. sogdog says:

    Really wish they would come out with different appicators that are stronger. I’d pay a few bucks extra for a metal one or something.. since i just returned from the store with a new can just for the stupid little plastic trigger that just broke yet again!! ugh.. and im not going to buy a Pro gun with cleaner and all that. just going to make another return to the store and finish my gap filling yet another day..

  18. Jane says:

    Even non-acetone nail polish remover and a barbecue skewer in both the straw and the bottle end worked beautifully. It also came right off my hands!

  19. Jim says:

    DOW OUGHT TO WISE UP ALREADY AND START SELLING PACKETS OF STRAWS AT THEIR GREAT STUFF DISPLAY. Most of us DIYs don’t use it all at once and its a big pain to have to spend so much time playing with the damn straws. If there was a similar product with the straw problem solved, I’d switch in a NY minute!

  20. Beverly says:

    Will grease or oil applied to a wooden or plastic surface keep Stuff from sticking? Picture this: A wooden box with a 5 gallon pail sitting in a nest of Great Stuff. An insulated water bucket for the winter for my Donkeys! Just need to be able to take the pail out of the insulated container to clean. Ideas?

    • Unopinionated says:

      Just buy a used Igloo container from a garage sale (or find a free one with a broken lid on garbage pickup day) and be done with it.

      Though, even it will end up with frozen water.
      A 5-gallon galvanized bucket will freeze even faster than an Igloo because the metal wicks heat faster than plastic.

  21. Bill says:

    Put the 5 gallon bucket in a trash bag and spray the foam around the bag, once it dries, you should be able to pull the bucket out of the bag.

    • Beverly says:

      Sounds like a pretty simple solution. Thanks Bill, I’ll try it like that! I’m really hoping that the donkeys water will stay thawed out longer this way.

  22. I have a patent pending on a product that completely seals foam can applicator straws and caulking tubes.It is completely different from any of those caulking tube covers made like a rubber sock.I have opened tubes that are 2 years old and still fresh.I also have a can of foam(great stuff) that I sprayed for the first time on Jan 16 2012 and is still as good as the first time I used it ( today is Feb 2 2012)I spray a small amount out every couple of days just to check.This product is going to be huge ! I will be at the National Hardware Show in Vegas this May and my web site will be up and running in a month.In infomercial is in the works as well.

  23. john beshears says:

    Thank everybody for the tips on cleaning the applicator, I use Great Stuff as a sculpting medium and have discovered that the foam will not adhere to wax paper. So, if I want my project to have a flat base, I just lay down wax paper and then have at it.

  24. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Works great on riding mower (slow moving vehicles) tires. Just use plastic throwaway gloves, deflate the tire (if not already flat), either jack up mower or take off tire, break the seal between tire and rim by pushing inward on tire, ready with foam , spray foam into tire between rim and tire opening, rotate tire as you go, when it gets full, take out valve stem valve, and fit straw to open valve stem and apray fill in the rest, (back tires take 6 cans, front tires 2 cans, your flat tire days are over.

  25. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Probably will work on bicycles and golf carts too, but for CARS, get an expert to make sure its completly filled and also balanced.

  26. Corin Woods says:

    I’ve used the stuff as a mould to pour plaster in. Use cooking oil in spray can on the item to be molded, I was useing fruit, put in a tearable container, also sprayed w/ oil. Make the item you want to mold secure with tooth pics or metal stays, then spray with foam. All should come out easily. You can also cut right thru the foam, it makes a great mould, tape back together, use again.

  27. Bobby Dunderson says:

    Got a small amount(maybe thumbnail size) of the stuff on the hood of my car (don’t ask how I managed to do that). I plucked off most of the blob before it cured, but there was a bit left behind. I had no acetone or whatever on hand- I didn’t want to spread it around and possibly cause more damage so I left it. Anyways, a bit of goo gone (the residue on the hood had cured overnight at this point) and some elbow grease using a fingernail took it right off no problem.

  28. Alan Golbov says:

    I recently needed to use one of my two full cans of Great Stuff and remembered that both nozzles had broken like many others have said. I found that screwing a 5/16″ wing nut on the can gives me a way to operate the valve, and pushing on a piece of 1/4″ ID tubing gives me an extension. Pushing on the wing of the wingnut lets me control the flow well enough. You have to hold on to the hose too, or it may jump off the nozzle when pressure is applied. Wear gloves! I first had to remove the old foam from the nozzle by twisting in an 11/64″ drill bit, with my fingers, into the opening and pulling out the bulk of the clog. This can was dated 2010 and I reused it in 2014, so their claims about shelf life aren’t strictly true. This works OK if you have the parts around the garage like I did. Good luck!

  29. John says:

    All I did was take the straw off. After shaking for over a minute, I just went “old school” and pushed the valve with my finger. Worked fine!

  30. Sharon says:

    Bought 3 cans of great stuff with new straw and 2 of them didn’t work. GS used yo be good. What happend?

  31. CB says:

    Two things I have done that I didn’t note mentioned.
    1- I flush the can top and nozzle straw with spray carb cleaner. It’s cheap. Easily dispensed and has many other cleaning uses. Use the little red straw and watch your eyes as it may spatter a bit.
    2- I once got some on a fancy embroiderd pad on the side of a boat. It was not on the embroidery but on the leatherette padding. It was going to cost a bundle to replace. Everything I could find about removal said by abrasion only. But surprise! It had been in the sun for several months. It was very deteriorated and came off with a scrubby. Perhaps this could work on cloth?

  32. Michelle Gasinski says:

    How about making cans half the size or even a third of the size

  33. Dalton Pemberton says:

    Can you let me know a good color to use between wood panel. I noticed on your site you use like a brown color think would be great

  34. Brenda J Davis says:

    Wouldn’t it be so much easier if they made smaller sizes? Of course the maker’s of this product have thought of that but all they can see are $ down the drain!!

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