How to Remove Sticker Residue

Peeling off price tags, manufacturer's labels, and children's stickers can leave gummy leftovers on surfaces. Here's how to remove sticker residue from glass, plastic, clothing, and more.

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Once you peel off an adhesive-back sticker or label from a surface, you might wonder how to get rid of the sticker residue. You know -- the gluey, gummy gunk left behind. And it can be downright stubborn to remove sometimes.

If you're tempted to scrape the spot with a putty knife or metal blade, don't. These tools might scratch the surface below the gunk. Instead, follow these tips to learn how to get sticker residue off glass, plastic, wood, and even clothing using products you have around the house to safely soften and remove the stuff.

First, however, try to get as much of the residue off with your fingers as possible. Simply roll the sticky adhesive into balls with your fingertips and pluck them off. Then use one of the following methods to remove any sticker residue that remains.

One word of caution: With all of these methods, test the surface in an inconspicuous area to make sure it won't stain or cause other damage.

Plastic scrapers. While metal blades might scratch the surface you're trying to save, a plastic scraper (even the edge of an old credit card) or the blade of a plastic knife can be safely used to scrape adhesive from many surfaces without scratching. Other options include wiping the spot with the scratchy side of a sponge or rubbing the debris away with a rubber eraser.

Hot water. Put a few drops of dish detergent into a sink full of hot water and immerse the item (if practical) into the water to soak until the residue softens. Scrape away the gunk with a plastic scraper or your fingers.

Hair dryer. Aim a hair dryer at the sticker residue, turn it on, and allow the hot air to loosen the adhesive. Scrape to remove.

Rubbing alcohol (or vodka). If you want to know how to get sticker residue off plastic, wood, or glass, one of the most effective solvents that's safe for most surfaces is rubbing alcohol. Vodka is a good substitute. Wet a paper towel or clean rag with rubbing alcohol, and rub the residue to lift it off. For stubborn stickers, lay an alcohol-soaked rag on the area, and let it sit for several minutes to soften the residue. Use the rag to rub off what's left behind.

Peanut butter. If you want to get sticker residue off wood, glass, or plastic, dab peanut butter on the spot and let it sit until the sticker residue softens. Use a clean rag to lift off the peanut butter as well as the residue.

WD-40. Spritz WD-40 onto the sticker spot, let it sit for several minutes, then use a rag to wipe away the residue.

Canola or olive oil. Apply cooking oil to the sticker residue to soften. Scrape away the remainder with your fingers, a plastic scraper, or a plastic knife, or rub with a clean rag.

Vinegar. Soak a rag or paper towel in vinegar and lay across the sticky area. Let it soak for a few minutes to soften the residue, then wipe or scrape to remove.

Cleaners. A few commercial products (Goo Gone or Goof Off, for example) are formulated to remove sticker residue. Follow the manufacturer's directions, but in most cases you apply the product to the residue, let it set, then scrape or wipe with a rag to remove.

How to Get Sticker Residue Off Clothing

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To remove sticker residue from clothing, try to remove the sticker as soon as possible, and don't run it through your dryer. But accidents happen, so if you're dealing with dried-on sticker residue on clothing, try these methods. Remember to experiment on an inconspicuous spot first.

After you've picked off as much as possible with your fingers, your next strategy depends on whether the clothing item is made of natural fibers or synthetics.

You can get rid of sticker residue on clothing made of natural fibers by rubbing the spot with acetone (nail polish remover) applied to a clean cloth. Wash and dry the item as you would normally.

To get rid of sticker residue on clothing made of synthetics, place the item in the freezer for 45 to 90 minutes, pull the clothing out, and immediately pluck off as many of the hardened bits as possible. Then moisten the spot with water, add a drop or two of mild dish soap, and rub the remainder of the sticker residue off using a microfiber cloth. Wash and dry the clothing item as you would normally.

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