From brand-new toys, electronics, and dishes to great finds at the thrift store, it seems like everything has a sticker. Whether it’s a price tag or a manufacturer’s label, most of us are quick to remove them—but dealing with the sticker residue can be a royal pain. It’s not like they peel off with little effort and no consequences. These things are called stickers for a reason, after all!
You know that feeling when you can easily grab the corner of a sticker and peel it off perfectly clean, without the slightest hint of residue left on your item? If you don’t, then you’re missing out on one of life’s small but satisfying achievements. You are more likely well-acquainted with the frustration that comes from working on the remnants of a sticker way too long—or worse, damaging something in your attempts to scrape off said residue.
If you’ve ever removed sticker residue and later realized you didn’t get it all, then you know what we’re talking about. Sometimes it seems like you’ll never get that stickiness completely removed, and every time you feel that sticky spot, you’re reminded of your pesky problem. But not after today. Thanks to our field-tested tips for how to remove sticker residue, you’ll have more than enough ways to get rid of the sticky stuff for good.
How to Remove Sticker Residue From Most Surfaces
Some of those sticker adhesives can be pretty stubborn, but it’s best to begin your residue removal with a gentle approach and a good dose of patience. Note, If you are wearing nail polish, make sure that before you start the scraping, you get a plastic scraper, like a gift card, to assist you. If not, your nail polish will lose, and lose badly in this removal process if you start chipping at it with your nails. Get as much of the sticker residue off with your fingers, or tool, as you can by rolling the adhesive into clumps and pulling them off. When you’ve removed most of the adhesive, use one of the following techniques to remove the remaining sticker residue.
Start with the gentle solutions and move on to the tougher ones as needed. No matter what remover you use, test an inconspicuous spot before you dive in. Be sure to have a soapy cloth or sponge nearby to wipe away the residue left by some of these cleaning solutions. We also suggest wearing disposable gloves and protecting your workspace. Some of the household products used in some methods might irritate your skin so make sure to wear latex gloves to avoid this. If you’re working on a table or countertop, make sure to cover it in a newspaper before proceeding.
One of the quickest ways to remove tape residue, sticker glue, and other adhesives is to heat up the area with a hair dryer. Start with low heat and low power and slowly heat up the adhesive. The sticker adhesive should begin to dissolve, making it easy to scrape off.
Remember, anything sharp can scratch and damage surfaces, so reach for a plastic scraper or old gift card to remove adhesives safely. These work well on their own, but are especially effective once you heat the adhesive. A warm, soapy cloth should take care of any residue left over.
Rubbing alcohol or vodka can safely remove sticker residue from plastic, wood, glass, or fabric. Soak the adhesive with your alcohol, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then wipe it off.
Dab baby oil, coconut oil, or mineral oil on the sticker residue and let it soak in for five minutes. Scrape away the rest with your fingers or a plastic scraper and soak up the excess oil and adhesive with a paper towel. Finish up with a soapy cloth to remove the oily residue.
Distilled White Vinegar
White vinegar is a safe and natural cleaner, deodorizer, and adhesive remover you can use all over the house. Soak a paper towel in vinegar and cover the sticky spot. Let the vinegar soak for a few minutes to break down the adhesive, then scrape it away, and wipe the surface with a damp cloth.
Commercial Adhesive Removers
If the above methods didn’t work for you, you can use commercial adhesive removers designed for even the stickiest adhesives. Read the label before you use the product and spot-test your item before you go to work.
Getting rid of sticker residue is simple, but not easy. They design sticker adhesive to stay stuck, so getting it unstuck from a box of new dishes or a new laptop can be frustrating. While it’s tempting to grab a razor blade and some paint thinner for a full-on attack on stickers and labels, that’s too risky. Sharp tools and harsh chemicals can often do more harm than good!
How to Get Sticker Residue Off Glass
New windows, sauce jars, and drinking glasses made from glass often come with a sticker—sometimes a lot of stickers! Most of the tips here will work for ceramics and other non-porous surfaces, but be careful to not scratch the finish. Here’s how to get sticker residue off glass containers, mirrors, dishes, and more.
Hot Water and Dish Soap
If you have sticker residue on items you can safely wash, fill your kitchen sink with hot water and a few drops of dish soap. Drop your bottles, jars, or other items in and let them soak for about 30 minutes. The stickers and the adhesive should fall right off and any residue is easy to remove with a dishcloth.
Baking Soda and Cooking Oil
If there is a sticky residue left after you wash the glass, rub baking soda and a little cooking oil into the adhesive. Let your oil and baking soda sit for 10 minutes to break down the adhesive. Baking soda is a natural cleaner that’s also a mild abrasive, so it’s easy to scrub away the remaining sticker residue. Wipe away any oil or residue with a paper towel and wash the area with a soapy cloth.
Citrus-based cleaners are safe and effective for degreasing, cleaning, and getting sticker residue off glass containers and windows. Spray the citrus cleaner onto the adhesive and let it soak for five minutes. Wipe away the dissolved sticker residue and then wipe the area with a damp cloth.
Nail Polish Remover
If it can dissolve hardened nail polish, acetone can turn sticker adhesive to mush, making it easy to wipe away. Use a cotton ball to dab nail polish remover onto a sticker or label, wait a couple of minutes, and then wipe the area clean. Remember, if you yourself have nail polish on, wear gloves before applying acetone as it may damage your mani by rubbing off some of the polish.
Yes, we know we told you to stay away from sharp objects, but sometimes you have to get tough with sticker residue. If you’ve tried the methods above and still have residue, carefully shave the remaining adhesive away and then wipe the area with a damp cloth.
How to Get Sticker Residue Off Plastic
Knowing how to get rid of sticker residue on plastic can mean the difference between leaving behind a marred surface or a smooth, clean finish. While you can use some of the same adhesive removers, it’s important to know that plastics aren’t as durable as glass, so proceed with caution. Whatever method you use when you’re learning how to remove sticker residue from plastic items, be sure to not rub plastic surfaces too hard or you could dull or damage the finish.
Gentle but effective, vegetable, Canola, and other cooking oils will soak right through a sticker and loosen the adhesive without dulling or staining plastic. Dab a generous amount of cooking oil onto the sticker or sticker residue and let it sit for five minutes. Wipe away the dissolved adhesive and wipe the area with a paper towel to get rid of excess oil. Finish up with a soapy sponge to remove the oily residue.
Another safe and effective adhesive remover is peanut butter. The oils in this sandwich favorite break down adhesives on plastic, wood, and most other surfaces without causing damage. Dab peanut butter on the sticker residue and let it sit for five minutes. Wipe away the adhesive and peanut butter with a paper towel and then wipe down the spot with a soapy cloth.
WD-40 is made to break down grease, rust, and adhesives, and it’s pretty powerful stuff. As long as you don’t leave it on too long or use too much, you’ll be fine. Don’t spray WD-40 directly onto your sticker area. Instead, spray a small amount on a paper towel to minimize the powerful odor. Dab the sticker residue with the paper towel and you should see the adhesive begin to dissolve. Wipe away the WD-40 and residue and use a soapy cloth to wash the area.