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How to Remove Stickers from Doors, Walls, and Other Surfaces

Young child applying stickers to a tablet cover while playing in a bedroom.
Kiryakova Anna/Shutterstock

Stickers can end up everywhere—walls, fridges, books, cars, your fancy leather briefcase, the list goes on and on. And the longer they sit, the more difficult they are to remove.

We’re here to take you through some cleaning options, including crazy solutions such as peanut butter and mayonnaise. Don’t worry, whatever the sticky mess, you’ll be able to wipe it all away.

Just remember always to do a test patch before applying your chosen solution or product to the entire surface and avoid using any method or tool that will damage the underlying material. For example, a razor scraper is a perfectly useful tool to remove a stubborn sticker from your car window but not such a great tool to remove a sticker your kid slapped on the arm of your leather couch.

When it comes to sticker removal, many times, you’ll have to use a multi-prong approach. Below we’ve rounded up several tried and true methods that cover multiple ways to get the stickers (and the remaining goo) off.

Mechanical Removal: Scraping and Rubbing

Having an effective scraper will make a difference when it comes to battling sticky residue. The type of scraper you’ll want to use will depend on the object’s material, as well as the stubbornness of the sticker.

Plastic Scrapers

Using a plastic scraper is less likely to scratch and damage surfaces. However, it might not be strong enough for the more resistant stickers. We still think it’s a good place to start. Options include pan scrapers, a specific sticker scraper, or an old credit card.

Metal or Blade Scrapers

These are a bit sturdier than plastic models and will help tackle more problematic sticker goo. Having a larger size and handle will make removing larger areas a breeze. You can get a paint scraper or one-sided razor blades. The razor blades are flexible, offering more agility if needing to clean contoured surfaces, such as a jar. Just remember to handle them with care and to store out of reach from children.

Rubber Erasers

Who knew that erasers were multifunctional? Sometimes sticker residue just needs a good rub.

You can tackle it with an eraser right from the start, or try one of the other methods first, bringing out the eraser for those more stubborn spots. For more delicate material, you can always use your finger in a rubber glove (or just your finger by itself). Rubbing away the last of the sticker good with your thumb is a time old trick.

Loosen Things Up with Heat

In many cases, applying heat to a sticker will loosen the adhesive right up. There are two simple ways to approach it: hot water and hot air.

Hot Water and Dish Detergent

Sometimes all you need is some hot water and a squirt of dish detergent.

Remove what you can of the sticker. Then cover the area with hot water and detergent. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing the soap to sink in. Then scrape clean.

Hair Dry It

Point a hair dryer set to hot directly at the center of the sticker, holding it close. Make sure the sticker’s center is super hot before moving to the edges of the sticker. Use a razor blade or credit card to slide under one side of the sticker. Slowly pull it back while continuing to push the card under its entire surface. The heat will work its magic and slowly release the sticker.

If there’s still residue, you can use another method to scrape it clean.

Use Kitchen Staples to Break Down the Adhesive

If you’re looking to use ingredients you already have on hand, then vegetable oil, peanut butter, or mayonnaise is the way to go. The fat content in these products will help dissolve the sticker adhesive.

First, remove as much of the sticker as possible. Then cover the area with your oil of choice, letting it sit for one hour. Finish by scraping it clean, using water to wipe away any remaining oil.

For thinner oils, such as canola, soak a rag and let it sit over the affected area. This can be difficult if the sticker is on your fridge or the wall. We recommend peanut butter for vertical surfaces, plus it’s great for wood, glass, or plastic. Just dispose of it afterward so that your dog (or child!) doesn’t snack on it.

And there are more solutions you likely have around the kitchen or close at hand?

  • Baking Soda and Coconut Oil: Start with equal parts of each, adding in more to create a thick paste. Smear this paste across the affected area, allowing it to sit for one hour. Scrub, scrape, or wipe clean.
  • Lemon Essential Oil: The citrus in this product will help break down sticky residue. It only takes a drop or two to work its magic. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping it clean. We don’t recommend this option for plastic, though.
  • Vinegar: White vinegar is there to help you with all your sticky problems! It works on glass, metal, wood, or plastic. Try to remove as much of the sticker as possible. Soak a rag or paper towel in white vinegar, lay it over the residual area for a few minutes, and then wipe clean. Alternatively, fill a spray bottle up with vinegar, spray the area thoroughly, scraping or wiping clean.

With a little patience and a few items from around the kitchen, you should have those stickers off in no time.

Specialty Products Offer Quick Results

If you don’t want to use a home remedy, consider a commercial product for removing unwanted stickers and residue. These products are good to keep on hand, especially if you have kids and know that continuous stickers are going to be a part of regular life.

Some options include Goo Gone, Goof Off, and WD-40. Compared to plain old hot water or peanut butter, these products really put the hurt on the adhesive in stickers.

Always follow the product’s instructions, keeping it away from children. Don’t forget to do a test patch first since some of these stronger products can leave oil stains on surfaces such as paper or books.

As much fun as stickers are, there’s no reason they have to stick around forever. They may seem like an annoying nuisance, but with our tricks, you won’t sweat seeing your child smack them on your mirror, fridge, or your brand-new car. Find which solution is easiest for you, and you’ll be prepared for the next sticker apocalypse.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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