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How to Get Sticker Residue Off of Almost Anything

A little girl with stickers on her face.

It’s tough enough to get stickers off of surfaces, but once you do, there’s usually an unsightly (and still sticky) residue left behind. There’s no need to stress, though—these easy tips and tricks will help you get sticky residue off of just about any household surface.

The sticky gunk left behind by labels, stickers, and tags can be surprisingly difficult to completely remove. Sure, you could just reach for the Goo Gone, but if you’d rather avoid harsh chemicals, you can remove almost any annoying sticker residue with just one tool and a few ingredients. And you probably already have everything you need right in your cabinet.

How to Remove Sticker Residue from Glass

Someone removing a sticker from a car windshield with a scraper tool.

One of the most common places you’ll find sticker residue is on glass bottles and jars. Fortunately, these smooth surfaces can usually be cleaned relatively easily, without the use of harsh chemical products.

There are a few different methods that will remove sticky residue from glass. If the item is small enough to be submerged, try the following method first:

  1. Fill a sink or large bowl with warm, soapy water.
  2. Submerge the item and let soak for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Gently scrape or wipe the residue until it peels off.
  4. Rinse with clear water and repeat if necessary.

Dawn Platinum Dish Soap

All you need to remove sticky residue from glasses and jars.

If the item is too large to submerge, follow these steps instead:

  1. Dip a sponge in warm water and dish soap, and then dab at the residue.
  2. If there’s still some left, use a plastic scraper to gently peel it off.
  3. Wipe the area thoroughly with clean water and repeat if necessary.

FOSHIO Plastic Razor Blade Scraper

Gently remove sticky residue from any surface without scratching it.

If soap and water doesn’t do the trick, you can move on to olive or vegetable oil. They can loosen the sticky residue, making it much easier to wipe away, without a strong scent that will linger.

Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lift away sticky residue naturally.

The process is fairly similar to those above; just follow these steps:

  1. Apply a small amount of your chosen oil to the residue, either with a sponge or by dripping it directly on the surface.
  2. Rub the oil into the surface, and then let it sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Use a plastic scraper tool to gently peel off the residue.
  4. Wipe down the item with a clean, damp towel, and then repeat the process if necessary.

Happy Belly Canola Oil, 48 Fl. Oz.

Helps loosen glue from hard surfaces without strong chemical solvents.

How to Remove Sticker Residue from Plastic

Much like glass, sticker residue on plastic has the advantage of being on a relatively smooth surface. In many cases, the simple soap-and-water approach works, just like it does for glass. Simply follow the steps we covered in the previous section.

However, if a sticker’s been there for a while (like labels on the bottom of a plastic organizer, tub, hamper, and so on), your cleaning solution might need a little boost.

In those cases, a white vinegar solution might work—follow these steps:

  1. Mix one part vinegar with two parts warm water
  2. Add some dish soap to the mixture (enough to form a moderate amount of suds).
  3. Submerge and soak the item if it’s small enough, or apply the solution to this sticky residue with a sponge.
  4. Use a plastic scraper tool to gently scrape away the residue until it all peels off.
  5. Rinse with clean water, and then repeat if necessary.

Lucy's Family Owned Natural Distilled White Vinegar

Breaks down sticky residue with ease.

How to Remove Sticker Residue from Metal

The back of a car covered in bumper stickers.

From bumper stickers to house numbers on mailboxes, stickers on metal can be a bit tougher to remove. Many adhesives can bond to metal with remarkable strength. Plus, once you get the sticker off, there’ll likely still be some residue.

On some items, the water and dish soap method we covered in the glass section might work just fine, so it’s worth trying first. For more stubborn residue, though, you can try using a spray lubricant like WD-40.

WD-40 Multi-Use Product

Breaks down sticky residue without damaging the surface underneath.

Follow these steps to get rid of any lingering sticky residue on metal:

  1. Use a plastic scraper tool to remove as much of the sticker and residue as possible.
  2. Spray a small amount of WD-40 on a clean rag.
  3. Wipe the residue gently, and then repeat as necessary.
  4. When all the residue is gone, use a clean cloth to wipe and dry the surface.

If the metal item is something sensitive, like a laptop, you’ll want to be a bit more cautious and avoid any methods that require saturated sponges or cloths.

Instead, try this gentler method like this one with :

  1. Use a plastic scraper tool to gently remove as much of the sticker and residue as possible.
  2. Add a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a clean rag or paper towel, gently wipe away any lingering residue, and then repeat if necessary.
  3. When the surface is clean, wipe it immediately with a dry cloth.

Dealmed Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 70%

Perfect for dealing with stubborn residue on more fragile items, like laptops.

How to Remove Sticker Residue from Fabric

A man wearing a name tag sticker on his shirt that says, 'Hello, my name is Mr. Know It All.'
Rob Byron/Shutterstock.com

Sticker residue on clothing usually comes from store size and price stickers. While most of these tend to peel off pretty easily, some might not. Other stickers, like name tags, can leave a residue on your favorite blouse.

Luckily, getting sticker residue off of fabric or clothing doesn’t require any fancy laundry products. You’ll just need one household ingredient, and then follow these easy steps:

  1. Gently pull off as much of the sticker as you can, including any pieces that are sticking up. Just be careful not to yank or break the fibers of the material.
  2. Soak the item in a mixture of equal parts cool tap water and white vinegar.
  3. Launder it on a regular cycle, using the coolest water setting and your usual detergent.

ide Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent

Gentle, unscented and won't deposit more residue.

Removing sticker residue from anything can be really annoying and time-consuming. Forget the harsh chemicals and cleaners though—you probably have everything you need under (or on) your sink. These DIY cleaning solutions will strip that gunk right off without harming the surface underneath.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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