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How To Remove Sticker Residue And Other Adhesive Substances

Have you ever taken your hand away from a coffee mug or set down a new vase only to find you’re met with resistance due to some sticky gunk left over from a price tag? Or maybe your children thoughtfully decorated your floor and walls with unicorn stickers. (Thanks, kids!) Then it sounds like you’ve got a sticky situation on your hands…literally.

If you’re like most people, you think that gummy residue is just plain gross. It’s unpleasant to touch, unattractive to look at, and it has a nasty habit of gathering hair, dust, dirt and whatever else floats past. So how do you get rid of it?

Learn how to remove sticker residue and other forms of gluey adhesives.

How to Remove Adhesive from Surfaces

The first step in figuring out how to remove sticker residue is peeling off the sticker itself. Do this carefully so that you don’t damage any surfaces made of wood, plastic, granite and so forth. Once you’ve primed the area by removing any paper backing from the adhesive, you’re ready to de-gunk. You’ll need the following supplies:
  • Rubbing alcohol or acetone-based nail polish remover (Choose one or the other. You don’t want to combine these chemicals.)
  • Paper towels or a microfiber cloth
  • A plastic putty knife
Now that you have the above necessities assembled, you’re ready to learn how to remove sticker residue.
  1. Apply your cleaner (the acetone-based polish remover or rubbing alcohol) directly to your cloth or paper towel. You’ll want to get your cloth a little more than damp as both of these cleaners dry quickly.
  2. Gently rub at the sticky spot with your cloth until the gunk comes up. You may need to reapply your cleaner and repeat this step a few times until the area is clean
  3. If you find you need some sort of tool to help remove a sticker or left-behind adhesive, use a small plastic putty knife. Simply wrap your dampened microfiber cloth around the putty knife for better scrubbing ability. (Tip: Don’t break the bank on putty knives. You can often find them at local dollar stores.)
  4. After you’ve finished, you can wipe the area dry with a fresh paper towel or microfiber cloth. However, the quick-drying nature of these cleaning agents means you probably won’t need to take this step.

Some “Don’ts” You Want to Keep in Mind

Figuring out how to remove sticker residue can be so frustrating that you’re willing to try any possible solution. However, you should definitely not do either of the following things:
  1. Do not pour acetone-based polish remover or rubbing alcohol on your floor or other surfaces and leave it to sit in the hopes that it will eat away the adhesive while you tend to other things. While these solutions may dissolve the adhesive when you let them sit, they’ll also cause some pretty awful damage to your floors or surfaces.
  2. Don’t use your fingernails or anything metal when trying to pry up stickers, paper backing or adhesive gunk. This can damage polyurethane coatings on wooden floors. It can also damage surfaces themselves, regardless of what material they’re made from.
While you can’t prevent price tags and labels from gumming up items in your home, it’s nice to know how to remove sticker residue. But what about the scuff marks on your floor?