Stickers are great, but if you don’t know how to remove sticker residue, they can be a mess. The adhesive left behind picks up dirt and lint—unattractive, to say the least. Plus, unexpectedly touching something sticky can give you the creeps. If you’re sick of encountering tacky gunk on your glass, wood, metal, or plastic surfaces, keep reading to learn how to remove sticker residue.
There are lots of products available that will do a great job of removing glues and sticky residues from a variety of surfaces, but they’re often harsh and can damage or discolor a surface.
How to Get Sticker Residue off Glass Surfaces
If you’re removing sticker residue from glass, including mirrors, the good news is that the job shouldn’t be too difficult. Here’s the easiest way to get sticker residue off glass:
- Fill a sink with hot water and dishwashing soap
- Soak the glass in the hot, soapy water for an hour
- Use a dish sponge to scrub the residue off the surface
The rough side of the sponge is the most effective for scrubbing. If there’s still a bit of adhesive left behind, repeat the steps to remove it.
If the glass surface is too large to fit in a sink you can repeat the same process in a bathtub. You can also soak a towel in the soapy solution and place it on the residue, resoaking and reapplying every 15 minutes or so. Then use the rough side of the sponge to remove the rest of the residue.
How to Remove Sticker Residue from Metal
Metal is the second easiest material to remove adhesive from. However, excessive scrubbing can cause paint discoloration or accidental buffing on bare metal. Here are the easiest ways to remove sticker residue from a metal surface without damaging it:
Removing sticker residue from bare metal:
- Apply a small amount of baby oil to the sticker residue and let it sit for 20 minutes
- Soak a cotton ball or rag with baby oil and use it to gently rub the surface until the residue is gone
- Wipe the surface with a clean cloth or paper towel
If the glue is particularly stubborn, you can also use a bit of WD-40 in place of the baby oil.
Removing sticker residue from painted metal:
- Create a 1:1 mixture of coconut oil and baking soda (note: you may need to warm the oil slightly for it to mix thoroughly with the baking soda)
- Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the solution
- Using your finger, lightly rub the solution soaked cloth over the residue to remove it
- Wipe the surface with a clean microfiber towel
This is a less aggressive method aimed to minimize paint damage. The baking soda acts as an aggregate to break up the residue while the oil prevents scratching the paint. You can repeat the process if necessary. If you’re short on coconut oil, other cooking oils such as vegetable or olive oil will work as well.
How to Get Sticker Residue off Plastic
Plastic is very easily scratched if an aggressive residue removal method is used. If you’d prefer to keep your plastic smooth and crystal clear, here is a technique to try:
- Fill a sink or small tub with hot water
- Add a cup of white vinegar
- Add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
- Stir to combine the mixture
- Place the plastic item in the sink or tub, ensuring the residue stays submerged
- Let it soak for 20 minutes
- With the residue still underwater, rub it with your fingers until it’s removed
This method helps avoid the scratches that a sponge can cause in soft plastic, while still being mild enough to touch with your bare hands. Again, if any residue remains, repeat the process.
How to Get Sticker Residue Off Wood
Because wood is so porous, sticker residue can bury itself in the grain, making it very difficult to remove entirely. Instead of sanding the wood, you can try a less aggressive method:
- Gently heat the residue with a hairdryer or heat gun adjusted to its lowest setting
- Using a bit of hand cleaner with pumice, such as Gojo or Fast Orange, rub the residue with your hand, going back and forth with the grain
- Continue until the surface feels clean
- Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth
If there is any hand cleaner left on the wood, dampen the microfiber or use a wet paper towel to remove the rest of it.
By following these tips, you should be able to remove sticker residue off most surfaces. Because they’re gentle methods, you’re less likely to damage your surfaces, and more assured to end up with a smooth, clean, residue-free finish.