Mod Podge Rescue Project (A Big Fat Failure)

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The situation: a bottle of Antique Matte color tinted Mod Podge sat unused for years. By the time I opened it again, it had separated. There was a layer of oily stuff on the top, and the Podge had hardened into a rubbery chunk underneath.

Totally disgusting!

But I’m not one to waste art supplies if I can help it. I wanted to know if I could somehow rescue this bottle of hardened Mod Podge, and so I took to Google to search for an answer.

Surprisingly, there was very little information about what to do if your Mod Podge has separated within the bottle! Neither was there any info about what to do if your Mod Podge has hardened in the bottle. Maybe because everybody either uses their bottles before they dry, or they just throw them away when it happens.

Well, we don’t just throw stuff away in THIS household! Not without trying to fix it, or figure out a second use for it.

Fixing separated Mod Podge

First, I took a plastic knife and started to gently mix up the hardened plug of Podge.

It actually wasn’t 100% hard– small pieces started breaking off, and the oil spread around into the cracks. It felt very rubbery, but since it was breaking up easily I thought it was a good sign.

Second, I set the Mod Podge bottle inside a slightly bigger container.

Then I filled THAT container with HOT HOT HOT water– nearly boiling. My idea was maybe the heat would soften the Podge rubber and I’d be able to mix it together.

After about 10 minutes, the hardened Podge plug had started to soften and recombine! Good idea, me! There was still a pretty hard plug right in the middle of the Podge, though, so I stirred it around the best I could and then let it sit some more.

I let it sit in the hot water until the water went cold, checking in on it every 10 minutes or so.

Everything seemed to be going right…

But then…

Take 2


Despite being soft and almost the right texture when it was in the hot water container, after the water cooled the Podge went back to its formerly chunky state. The oil stuff had blended back into the rest of the Podge, but it was totally the wrong consistency and not usable at all.

But I didn’t give up! I decided to try again. I scraped out some Mod Podge and put it in a separate container.

You can see how chunky and gross it is.

Then I added some hot water and stirred for about 10 minutes, trying to blend the chunks out. I could see the softest/most watery part of the Mod Podge blending, and the chunks DID get smaller…

But they didn’t disappear completely. Look at all these chunks!

Maybe if I had a blender I’d be able to really get them out, but just hand-mixing was no good. Another fail.

After all that time spent heating and mixing, I wanted to see if I could just use it anyway. I tested the non-chunky part on a small piece of paper…and it kinda worked! Kinda, but not really. It took forever to dry, and it wasn’t really sticking. I wouldn’t be comfortable using it as a glue or seal, honestly.

Also, the stuff leftover in the container chunked right back up again when I let it sit, despite the extra water I’d added to it.

Such a bummer!

Rethinking the problem

Potential solutions that I did NOT try because I don’t have the supplies needed: adding rubbing alcohol in instead of water. Adding Elmer’s glue? Heating in a microwave? Blender?

What I learned:

  • Mod Podge, once separated, can’t be fixed.
  • To keep your Mod Podge from separating, make sure it’s in an airtight container.
  • And– just because you can’t fix something, doesn’t mean your time was wasted. Now I have an answer to my question, and I can help other people who might have the same question.

Have you ever tried to fix a bottle of Mod Podge that went all weird? What was your experience? Drop a comment below!

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  1. I appreciate your post on this (even if you didn’t find a solution) because all the googling I found was talking about hardening modge podge AFTER it is out of the container. I am in the same boat, old bottle of modge podge that has hardened inside the container – but not separated. Alas, I suppose I will have to buy a new bottle.

    1. Thanks so much for your nice comment, Emma! I’ve been thinking more about my gunked-up Mod Podge and I really think it must be something to do with the specialized ingredients. Homemade mod podge is just glue and water (and so maybe would be easier to de-clump), but real Mod Podge uses a specialized form of PVA glue that reacts differently. Unfortunately, it really does seem like once it gunks up it’s just not fixable.

  2. Mine did the same thing! Mine’s all goopy and feels like sticky slime 🙁 I’ve had it for years… I’ve used it a lot in the past, yet there’s still so much more in the container. I guess I’ll have to buy some more.

  3. Thanks so much. I have the same problem, I think temperature fluctuations were the culprit in my case, I haven’t fully moved into my craft room & I left the jar near a window throughout the South Australian summer. There was cause for hope as a dry-ish membrane formed around the product almost like a placenta. When I managed to peel that away, the product was jelly-like, but easily mashed with a palette knife & the liquid vanished. Perhaps I’ll try some alcohol or diluting it while it’s still warm. If it’s going to landfill anyway, I might as well experiment before I buy a new one.

  4. I had one little project and didn’t want to buy a new one but same problem but I tried a stick blender and hot water and that made it workable. First I added hot water to the goo itself because it seemed like part of the issue was that it was drying out. Then I ran a stick blender through it and kept blending and adding really hot water until it reached the right consistency. **My stick blender did not like this at all!!!! It jammed a few times but after I rinsed it off it would work again. There were still some little lumps but I think a more powerful blender would have done the trick. So it worked! But I won’t keep it again because after sitting it started to separate again. Conclusion: you can make it work in a pinch but you’ll get one more use and then it’s really done for good. Thanks for the post!

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