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How To Remove Sticker Residue

If you are lucky, pulling a sticker off of something will leave absolutely no residue behind. You have a nice and clean surface, and you can go about your day without that extra hassle.

However, let's be honest, most of us are not all that lucky. Most of us will be left with a sticky piece of goop that we need to remove. So, how do you remove it? That's what we are going to take a look at on this page! We are going to tell you exactly how to remove sticker residue from a variety of different surfaces.

Published: November 22, 2022.

stickers 1

What Is The Sticker Residue?

The residue left behind is the adhesive from the sticker. It isn't a particularly strong adhesive since the sticker has been designed to be removed.

The longer the sticker has been left on something, the more difficult that residue will be to remove.

If you have a sticker stuck on a product for several years, then it could be incredibly difficult to remove the adhesive. In fact, you may even have a challenge attempting to remove the sticker in the first place.

Throughout the rest of this page, we are going to give you several different options for removing the sticker residue.

They are going to go from least-invasive to most-invasive. We suggest that you work your way through the list. If one method doesn't work, then you can move on to another method.

Do make sure that you do not use a method blindly. Some methods won't work on certain products.

For example, we are going to mention the use of hairdryers a little bit later on, but don't use that method if the product with the sticker residue is heat sensitive. We can't imagine that it is going to end all that well.

Use Your Fingers

This is the method that you should always start with. it is the safest method to use. Even if you do not remove all of that awful sticker residue, you should be able to do enough to get rid of most of it.

Just carefully run your fingers over the sticker residue. The heat of your fingers should slowly start to lift the sticker residue off of the item. If you can, try to roll the adhesive up into a small ball when you do this.

There may be a small amount of residue left after this, but it shouldn't be too tricky to remove, which will bring us to our next step.

Use Water and a Dash of Dish Soap

We have seen some guides that recommend that you soak the item in soapy water. Don't do this. Even if you have something which can get wet, if you soak the whole thing, you are just getting it wet for the sake of getting it wet.

dish soap

Use a small amount of dish soap and warm water on the end of a clean cloth. If possible, try to ensure that the cloth is lint-free (it will say whether it is lint-free). It isn't vital, but it will stop any bits of cloth from sticking to the adhesive, and you will have to remove those too.

With the water, gently brush over the adhesive. Just gentle strokes. It should start to lift it up from the item.
You can either let the item naturally dry, or you can wipe it dry yourself.

For most people, this is all that you really need to do to get rid of that sticker residue. Use the combo of your fingers and some dish soap, and it will probably be gone in a matter of minutes.

Remember, there are some things that you cannot get wet. For example, this is not a method that you really want to be using if you are trying to clean off unsealed wood. The water will get into the wood, and this will probably end up causing you no end of issues.

Use a Scraper

If you still have a bit of sticky residue behind, then you can use a scraper. This works best when the residue is on a wooden surface because it may be tricky to remove the adhesive with your fingers.

If you are using a scraper, then try to keep it almost flat against the thing that you are cleaning. You do not want to be digging the scraper into the object. If you do, then the scraper will leave a ton of scratches and marks.

We wouldn't recommend that you use a scraper on something that is very easy to scratch.

For example, this is a method that we would probably skip if you are looking to remove sticker residue from a piece of plastic or a piece of glass, although you can certainly find glass-safe scrapers.

Do Not Put Wash Clothing With Sticker Residue On

While it may seem like the obvious solution, don't do it. The wash cycle probably won't wash the residue away. Instead, it will just make it stick even harder to the clothing. This will make it tougher to remove.

Thankfully, sticker residue doesn't really stick that much to clothing. Warm water and a dash of dish soap will remove it in 99% of cases.

Using a Removal Product

Hopefully, by now, you should have been able to remove the sticker residue from your item. If you have, great. There is nothing else for you to read here.

However, if you still have some sticker residue lingering about, then it is time to get creative. You may need to apply some sort of product that will break down the adhesive, making it easier to lift from the product.

In this section, we are going to go through everything that has been proven to remove adhesive sticker residue that simply won't budge. Many of these items you will likely have around your home already. However, we do want to point out that not all of these products may be suitable for the job that you have.

For example, we will recommend some chemical products, but you probably wouldn't want to use these if you are worried about the color washing out or if it is something that may come into contact with a pet or a child.

Where possible, we will indicate the surfaces that the removal product is best for. However, it is still up to you to make a judgment call. Sadly, we cannot cover every eventuality.

Peanut Butter

Yep, you read that right. Peanut butter works surprisingly well as a sticker residue remover, but you will only want to use it on these surfaces:

  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Wood

While there are some people that have had success using peanut butter on clothes, we don't really see the sense of that.

peanut butter

There is always the risk that the peanut butter could end up staining the clothing, and that is going to be a whole lot worse than using peanut butter, right?

Using peanut butter is dead simple. Just apply it to the sticker residue. Leave it to sit for about five minutes or so, and then wipe it away. The peanut butter should have softened the adhesive up, allowing the adhesive to be pulled away with the peanut butter.

Of course, you will have some dried peanut butter left behind, but this shouldn't be too difficult to clean with a bit of warm, soapy water (just like before!).

Adhesive Remover

We do tend to steer clear of using adhesive remover. Not because it isn't good - after all, there are many options on the market. It is going to work with most surfaces, but the price is going to be incredibly high.

Why invest in an adhesive remover that you may use once or twice when you can just use items that you have around your home already?

Still, the adhesive remover isn't all that difficult to use, nor is it invasive. If you want something that is virtually guaranteed to work, then go down this route. Follow the instructions on the adhesive remover that you have purchased.

However, in most cases, all you really need to do is dab the adhesive remover on the sticker residue and then wipe it clean.

Olive Oil

You can use other types of oil here too. However, most people have some olive oil around their homes, so you can give it a go.

olive oil

We wouldn't recommend that you use olive oil on clothes or products that have an oil or varnish finish (i.e., most woods).

Olive oil can be used much in the same way as warm soapy water. You dab it around and then wipe it clean.

Obviously, you may have a small amount of olive oil left, but this should just wipe away with some warm, soapy water. That part will likely help to lift off the last of the sticker residue too.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol (or white spirit) absolutely stinks, and it can give off some rather toxic fumes. That is why rubbing alcohol is so far down this list.

While the rubbing alcohol will probably soften the adhesive up enough for you to remove it, you have two problems:

  • It may leave a stench that is very difficult to remove, particularly on clothing.
  • You must be outside to use it, or at least near an open window.

As with most of the methods that we have discussed so far, using rubbing alcohol will involve nothing more than dabbing the rubbing alcohol on the adhesive, waiting a couple of minutes, and then wiping it clean.

You will probably (once again) need to use some warm, soapy water if you want to get rid of the stench of the rubbing alcohol. However, you may never be able to get rid of it completely.

WD-40

WD-40 is another product that people probably have hanging around their homes already. This can be applied to wood, plastics, and some metals. We would not recommend that you use it on clothing.

wd 40

Spray the smallest amount of WD-40 onto the sticker residue. Leave it a couple of minutes. The WD-40 should start to soften up the adhesive, allowing you to wipe it clean.

Eraser

An eraser can work to remove sticker residue, but we find it to be quite an invasive method. It is not something that you really want to be using on plastics or glass if you don't want to run the risk of scratching it up. It won't work on clothing, either.

It wouldn't destroy the clothes, but you would struggle to get a firm grip on them.

Erasers work well on wood. Just rub the adhesive with the eraser, and it should start to lift off. You will need to blow the eraser splinters away.

Hairdryer

This is a method that is really a last resort. You may find that this method will work best on clothing more than anything else.

hairdryer

As you can probably imagine, the job of the hairdryer is to melt the sticker residue, allowing you just to wipe it away. A soft cloth with some warm water on should do the trick there.

You should try and keep the hairdryer switched to low heat, and it should be a good couple of inches away from the item. This will prevent it from melting.

We wouldn't really recommend using a hairdryer on anything that is made from plastic (this includes certain synthetic clothing), as there is always the risk of it melting. You may also want to steer clear of using a hairdryer if the sticker residue is on oiled or varnished wood.

A hairdryer will work well on the glass, however, you will need to ensure that the glass is fairly warm, to begin with. Do not blow a warm hair dryer onto a cold glass. That glass will end up breaking.


Conclusion

There you have it. When it comes to how to remove sticker residue, you have a wealth of options available to you. We are certain that at least one of these is going to do the trick.

Remember that sticker residue is not designed to hang around on anything for too long. So, it will come off eventually. You just may need to use a couple of methods to do that.

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