When One Fails, Try Another… The Many Ways to Remove Tape/Sticker Residue!

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Nowadays, you find stickers on almost anything you buy; right from glassware and ceramics to plastic toys and even fruit! You would think that by now manufacturers and retailers would understand the plight of consumers who struggle to remove sticker residue from products and therefore, stop using them altogether! Unfortunately, it looks like stickers are here to stay but that doesn’t mean the residue has to. 

While removing stubborn, sticky substances has always been a troublesome task, there are many ways to remove sticker residue from different surfaces. This gives you the reassurance that if Plan A fails, there’s always Plan B, C, D, and so on! 

So, if you’ve spent a lot of time and energy scrubbing away at adhesive stains and not had any luck in getting them off, take a look at these tried and tested methods to remove sticker residue from various types of surfaces. 

How to Remove Sticker Residue from Plastic

It can be rather tricky to get rid of sticker residue from plastic surfaces because the wrong cleaning products can damage, dull, or discolour the material. In most cases, you can’t use too much pressure either as plastic is easily dented. So, how do you remove tape/sticker residue from plastic? The answer(s) to your question can be found below.

WD-40

You’ve probably used a can of WD-40 on metal to remove rust and built-up grease at some point or the other; however, this multi-purpose spray can also be used indirectly on plastic to break down adhesives. The reason we say indirectly is because WD-40 has a strong odour and therefore, should not be sprayed directly on plastic which will absorb the smell. Instead, dampen a corner of a clean microfibre cloth and scrub the sticker/tape residue away. Once you have removed the sticky residue, wash or wipe the surface with soap and water to get rid of the WD-40 smell.

Peanut Butter

As crazy (and messy) as it sounds, creamy peanut butter works to remove adhesives due to its natural oil content. Best of all, it is non-damaging when used on plastic, as well as other types of materials such as wood and steel. To remove sticker residue using peanut butter, apply a small amount of the sandwich spread over the sticky area and leave it for a few minutes. Use a damp cloth to wipe it up thereafter and the adhesive should come right off with it. Finally, you will need to clean the area with soap and water to prevent sticky stains which will occur if the peanut butter dries up on the surface. 

Vegetable Oil

The use of any cooking oil is a gentle, effective, and highly recommended approach to removing adhesive residue on plastic toys and containers. It works like a charm and will not damage or stain the plastic. To clean off sticky residue from plastic surfaces, pour some cooking oil onto a paper towel and place it over the adhesive. Press down on the paper towel so that the oil soaks the glue; leave it for five minutes. Take a fresh paper towel and wipe the area clean. If any adhesive remains, dampen a clean cloth with vegetable oil and scrub the plastic until the stickiness has been removed. To get rid of the oil on the surface, use grease-fighting dish soap and a sponge.

How to Remove Sticker Residue from Glass, Ceramics, etc

Dishware, drinking glasses, mirrors, new windows, and other types of glass and ceramics often come with a sticker (if not multiple stickers). Of course, the sticky residue they leave is a given but what’s worse is when the sticker itself does not peel off entirely. You then have the added work of scraping the remnants off before tackling the adhesive on the surface. This too is tricky as these fragile materials are prone to scratches and breakages. 

Nevertheless, there are a few safe and effective ways to remove sticker residue from ceramic or glass; take a look below!

Acetone

Just like it removes colour instantly, even the smallest amount of acetone can cut through adhesives. It’s one of the easiest ways to remove sticker residue from glass and ceramics, however, acetone should not be used on porous materials or painted surfaces as it will remove colour along with the residue. For non-porous material like glass, all you need is some cotton dipped in acetone, and you can wipe away the adhesive in an instant! 

Cooking Oil

As we mentioned earlier, cooking oil is gentle and effective in removing adhesives from plastic, but it is not just limited to this material. It can also be used on glass and ceramic, however, some amount of abrasion is generally required as the glue from stickers really clings onto these surfaces. Our advice is to try the same method (as mentioned for plastic) – dampen a paper towel with cooking oil, soak the sticker residue for five minutes, and then wipe it. If some of the glue remains on the surface, dip the paper towel in some baking soda and scrub the area again. Baking soda has many household cleaning uses and in this case, it serves as a mildly abrasive cleaning agent which does not scratch or damage non-porous materials.

Hot Soapy Water

Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is soak the item in hot soapy water to loosen the adhesive which, later on, will scrub right off with minimal effort. If you don’t have a large enough basin or vessel, you can use the kitchen sink (after it has been cleaned) to soak your ceramics and glassware with sticker residue on them. A good 30 minutes in hot soapy water should do the trick. Thereafter, dip a scrubber or kitchen cloth in the same solution and gently scrub the area to get rid of the sticky residue from the surface. 

Citrus Cleaners

Whether you make your own citrus cleaners or buy commercial ones, these grease-fighting solutions are effective in making sticky substances lose their adhesive. Thereafter, they can be scrubbed off with just a little dish soap and elbow grease. To use citrus cleaners to remove tape/sticker residue, spray the solution directly over the area and leave it aside for 10 minutes. After the cleaner has soaked through the glue, scrub it with your regular dish soap and a non-abrasive scrubber.

General Tips to Remove Sticker Residue

While the cleaning methods and agents/ingredients mentioned above are specifically advised for either plastic or glass and ceramic, some of them can also be used to remove sticky substances from other surfaces including wood, granite, porcelain, and laminate. 

With that said, there are many other effective ingredients/agents to remove sticker residue from most surfaces and we have tried and tested the best ones below!

Vodka 

In case you didn’t already know, vodka has multiple cleaning benefits right from being a degreaser to a disinfectant. As far as removing sticker residue is concerned, vodka is safe to use on all surfaces, and is very effective in tackling sticky substances.

Isopropyl Alcohol (70%)

Like vodka, rubbing alcohol is an effective disinfectant that can remove tape and sticker glue from all types of surfaces, fabrics included. If you’ve ever had to deal with medical tape residue on your skin, you will understand just how easy it is to remove it using rubbing alcohol!

White Vinegar

This list would definitely be incomplete without mentioning white distilled vinegar which is a staple household ingredient for both cooking and cleaning. Adhesives will require to be soaked in undiluted white vinegar for a few minutes before the ingredient dissolves the residue.

Non-Serrated Plastic Knife

It really helps to scrape off some of the residue left by tape and stickers before you attempt to remove it with a cleaning agent. All the little bits you’re able to get off will make it easier to clean off the glue left behind. Remember to only use plastic, non-serrated knives for this as they will not scratch the surface as a metal object would.

Oils

Apart from vegetable oil, you can also get rid of adhesives using other oils like coconut oil, essential oil, lemon oil, and baby oil. A few dabs of any household oil and a gentle scrubbing will take that stickiness right off!

Blow Dryer 

Heat has a way of melting and dissolving glue or adhesives from various types of surfaces. Of course, high heat is not recommended for certain materials like plastic and mirrored glass, however, you can turn the blow dryer to a lower heat setting and use it on these surfaces as well. Be sure to hold the blow dryer at least five inches away from the surface, and allow it to heat the sticker residue for about 3 – 5 minutes before scraping it off with a plastic knife. 

As frustrating as it may be to see a sticker on a brand new product you’ve just bought, there is no longer a need to spend hours scrubbing away the residue it leaves behind. You know why? Because the methods shared above are super quick to use and, moreover, if one fails, there’s always another one that comes to the rescue!

Karen Saunders

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