Freeing character mesh after applying the "Armature Deform with Automatic Weights"

I’ve created a character and applied the “Armature Deform with Automatic Weights”.
After working with the character a bit, I wanted to reverse this so that I can make substantial revisions to both the rig and mesh and re-apply the “Armature Deform with Automatic Weights”.

One way I tried was to simply eliminate all of the vertex groups.
Another way was to clear the parent from the mesh to the armature.

Both of these seem to have messy residual side effects.
The bones still affect some parts of the mesh.

Does anyone know how to separate the bone from the mesh cleanly?

Select the mesh and Alt-P.

Make sure you remove the Armature modifier from the mesh’s stack. If Envelopes is enabled, it’ll deform even without vertex groups.

perfect. that worked.