No matter where they occur, sticky adhesives and gummy glues can be difficult to get rid of. However, when they happen to be stuck in a sensitive place, such as near the eyes, cleaning them up can be particularly challenging. Many of the solvents that will dissolve glue are not safe to use on thin-skinned areas of the body. Products, such as petroleum jelly, olive oil and baby shampoo, can safely be used near the eyes; however, complete removal of the adhesive may require multiple applications.
The heat and humidity from a bowl of steaming water can weaken adhesive bonds and loosen sticky residue. To use steam to remove glue from the eyelashes, use a sheet of cardboard to fashion a ring around a large bowl. The cardboard circle should be about 12 inches high to prevent unintentional burning from exposure to steam. Heat 1 quart of water until it is nearly boiling, then transfer it to the bowl. Wrap the cardboard around the bowl and place your face over the opening in the tube. Hold your head in position until the water cools, then stand before a mirror, close the affected eye and wipe the glue away with a baby wipe.
When it comes to removing dirt, gunk and gooey residue, a simple application of soap and water has long been the gold standard. However, regular soap can irritate delicate skin and can sting the eyes. For no-tears glue removal, use standard baby shampoo. Put a drop of shampoo on a cotton ball and gently swab the affected area; once the glue comes loose, rinse the eye with lukewarm water and pat with a clean towel to dry.
As the name suggests, petroleum jelly is a byproduct of the oil industry. As a petrochemical, petroleum jelly is capable of dissolving any number of compounds, but is safe for use on the skin--even in sensitive areas. To remove glue from the eyelashes, dip a cotton swab into a container of petroleum jelly, then rub the swab lightly over the lashes. Wait five minutes for the glue to soften, then rinse the lashes with warm water.
The chemical composition of standard olive oil readily softens sticky substances, such as glues and adhesives. A popular skin conditioner, olive oil can safely be used to remove these undesirable compounds from the eye area. Simply moisten a cotton ball with olive oil and rub it gently over the lashes. Then wipe the eyes with a clean tissue to remove any excess oil. Baby oil can be used with similar results, though some people find they are sensitive to the chemicals used to give baby oil its distinct aroma.