The purpose of this in vitro study was to compare the efficacy of 24% ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) gel and 17% EDTA solution in cleaning dentine walls after root canal instrumentation. Thirty human canine teeth were divided into three groups of 10 teeth each. In Group 1, 1% sodium hypochlorite was used as the irrigating solution; in Group 2, 1% sodium hypochlorite was used with 17% EDTA solution; and in Group 3, 1% sodium hypochlorite was used with 24% EDTA gel. The presence of a smear layer was analysed after instrumentation using scanning electron microscopy. The Kruskal-Wallis test revealed a statistical difference (P < 0.05) between Groups 1 and 2, and also between Groups 1 and 3. No difference was observed between Groups 2 and 3 (P > 0.05). The results indicate that 1% sodium hypochlorite alone does not remove the smear layer and that there was no statistical difference between EDTA gel and EDTA solution in smear layer removal.