Drastic plastic

Polyethylene glue: A DIYer’s guide to this amazing adhesive

So many items in your home are made of plastic. Polyethylene glue works wonders for many common repairs. Get the details below.

What is polyethylene adhesive?

Widely used for its versatility and durability, you can find polyethylene plastic (PE) in virtually every home. Many materials won’t stick to its nonporous surface, making it great for storing liquids or garbage. But this quality also means many adhesives will not bond to polyethylene, hence the need for polyethylene glue.

Some typical items made from polyethylene include:

  • toys
  • trash receptacles
  • household pipes
  • kitchenware and containers
  • flower pots and planters

How to use polyethylene glue 

Since there are many varieties of polyethylene adhesive, there are no one-size-fits-all directions for each type. But here is an overview of some of the most common types and uses of polyethylene plastic glue.

In some cases, you apply it like any other glue. After ensuring the areas to be bonded are clean and dry, apply a small amount of polyethylene adhesive and press the parts together.

Some types of polyethylene glue will act as a bonding cement. For these applications, apply the adhesive to both surfaces and allow it to dry for 10 to 30 minutes. Apply two coats of glue for very porous materials like leather, allowing each coat to dry. Then assemble the parts within a half hour. 

Other types of polyethylene plastic glue require the application of an activator. First the activator is applied to both surfaces and allowed to dry. This usually takes just a few seconds. Then the adhesive is applied, and the parts are joined together.

When choosing any adhesive product, ensure it is compatible with the materials you will be bonding and follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

Clean up tips:

  1. Remove uncured polyethylene glue using acetone and a clean cloth. 
  2. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first since acetone may damage some types of plastic.
  3. Carefully scrape away cured polyethylene glue with a razor blade.

Is polyethylene adhesive the right choice for your project?

Polyethylene is the most common type of plastic used for household items and is indicated by a number 2 stamp, although not every item will be marked. If in doubt, it’s best to try a small amount of glue to determine compatibility.

Pattex Super Glue Plastics will take a lot of the guesswork out of doing repairs to plastics. It will bond to most types of plastic, including polyethylene and polypropylene (PP). It is a dual-action system with an activator and an adhesive. Super Glue All Plastics dries transparent in seconds and will also bond to metal, porcelain, rubber, wood, and many other surfaces.

If you are repairing a flexible item, we recommend Pattex Super Glue Ultra Gel. This one-step clear liquid adhesive remains flexible and is perfect for shoes, toys, vinyl furniture, and even leather. It will not yellow or become brittle with age. To repair long tears in fabric or leather, use a fiberglass patch on the underside of the material for extra strength.