How To Remove Stickers From Any Surface

9 ways to get yourself out of a sticky situation.

The funny thing about stickers is that they just accumulate in junk drawers because of your fear of commitment. Then when you finally pull the trigger and slap that perfect sticker onto your car or laptop, chances are that you’ll regret it a few years later. And laptops and cars are big-ticket items that you’ve got for a while, so you and that sticker have entered into a long-term relationship. Sure, there are lesser-stickered items, like coolers or water bottles. But then that stupid sticker from your ex’s band is just haunting you, regardless of where you stuck it.

Well, we’re here to help you remove that sticker.

Read on for all our various recommended techniques for how to remove stickers (of which there are many), with tips for removing stickers (and their persistent residue!) from all sorts of specific materials, from wood and plastic to glass and metal.

9 tried-and-true tricks to remove stickers

1. White vinegar

  • Soak a rag with white vinegar.
  • Cover the offending sticky area with your vinegar-soaked rag.
  • Let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a razor scraper.

2. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol

  • Most alcohol-based products will dissolve sticker adhesive. (Nail polish remover or clear, unflavored vodka are good substitutes!)
  • Soak a rag or paper towel in rubbing alcohol.
  • Cover the sticker you want to remove with the alcohol-soaked rag.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a razor scraper.

3. Washing soda

  • Washing soda is great for removing labels from bottles, among other things. If you can safely and confidently submerge whatever it is you’re removing the sticker from in water, this is a good method.
  • Fill a sink or bucket with warm water, add around 1/2 cup of washing soda and stir to combine.
  • Soak the stickered item in the solution for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should slough right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a razor scraper.
  • WTF is washing soda, anyway? It’s a chemical compound that removes stubborn stains from laundry and is a necessary component in most homemade laundry detergent (either in powder, liquid or single-pod formulas). It’s also sometimes used in ready-made detergent mixtures that treat hard water.
    • The chemical formula in washing soda is Na2CO3 (aka sodium carbonate).
    • Washing soda is not baking soda.

4. Hair dryer

  • Heat from a hair dryer is one of the cleanest ways to remove stickers (especially old bumper stickers!).
  • Turn on your hair dryer on low heat, and slowly, patiently blast it toward the sticker you wish to remove for about 30 seconds or until the sticker becomes pliable.
  • That baby should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a razor scraper.

5. Peanut butter

  • Peanut butter is actually super effective at dissolving sticker adhesive due to its high fat content.
  • Smear a thick layer of peanut butter (we’d opt for smooth versus chunky) onto the sticker you want to remove.
  • Let the peanut butter sit for about an hour.
  • The sticker should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a razor scraper.

6. Baking soda and coconut oil

  • Combine a few teaspoons baking soda with a few drops coconut oil (or any oil, really) to make a thick paste.
  • Coconut oil saturates and loosens the adhesive, and baking soda helps to scrub it all away.
  • Apply the paste to the unwanted sticker.
  • Let it sit for about an hour.
  • Scrub away the paste with a sponge or damp rag.
  • The sticker should peel off with the paste—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a razor scraper.

7. Pencil eraser

  • For residual sticky bits after you’ve removed your sticker, try a rubber pencil eraser, which ought to drag away any residual adhesive from the object’s surface, allowing you to easily scrape it off.

8. Mayonnaise

  • Mayo also has a super high fat content, like peanut butter.
  • Just act like you’re making a turkey club, and spread a thick layer of (ideally full-fat) mayo onto the sticker.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Wipe the mayo, sticker and adhesive clean off.
  • Mayo works especially well on glass, but be careful if you’re using it on any painted surfaces, as it could damage the paint job.

9. Lemon essential oil

  • Citrus oils are awesome for their degreasing properties, making them perfect for battling sticky residue.
  • Apply a couple drops of lemon essential oil directly to the sticker.
  • Let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Wipe the sticker and adhesive away.
  • Heads up: lemon oil can damage plastic!

How to remove stickers from glass

Just be careful not to scrape the glass! And best to finish with some ready-made or DIY glass cleaner for good measure.

Plastic scraper

  • The risk of scratching or damaging the glass is considerably less with a plastic scraper, versus a metal one. You can even use the side of a credit card or a disposable plastic knife for this.
  • For stubborn stickers, combine the plastic scraper method with one of the options below, whether it’s hot water, rubbing alcohol or peanut butter.

Hot water + dish soap

  • Add a couple drops of dish soap such as Dawn to hot water, either in your sink or a bucket.
  • Submerge the glass item (if possible) in the soapy water.
  • Soak until the sticker softens.
  • Scrape away the remaining sticker and adhesive with a plastic scraper.

Hair dryer

  • Heat from a hair dryer is one of the cleanest ways to remove stickers from glass.
  • Turn your hair dryer on low heat, and slowly blast it toward the sticker you wish to remove for about 30 seconds or until the sticker becomes pliable.
  • The sticker should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper.

Rubbing alcohol

  • Most alcohol-based products will dissolve sticker adhesive from glass. (Nail polish remover or vodka are good substitutes!)
  • Soak a rag or paper towel in rubbing alcohol.
  • Cover the sticker you want to remove with the alcohol-soaked rag.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper.

Peanut butter

  • Peanut butter is super effective at dissolving sticker adhesive from glass due to its high fat content.
  • Smear a thick layer of peanut butter (we’d opt for smooth versus chunky) onto the sticker you want to remove.
  • Let the peanut butter sit for about an hour.
  • The sticker should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper.

Oil

  • Apply any sort of cooking oil directly onto the sticker.
  • Let it sit for about 10–15 minutes, or until the sticker begins to soften.
  • Scrape away any residual sticker with a plastic scraper.
  • Finish by rubbing the spot with a clean rag to remove any excess oil.

Vinegar

  • Soak a rag with white vinegar.
  • Cover the offending sticky area with your vinegar-soaked rag.
  • Let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper.

Rubber eraser

  • For residual sticky bits after you’ve removed your sticker from the glass, try hitting it with a rubber pencil eraser. The eraser will buff away any residual adhesive from the object’s surface, allowing you to easily scrape it off.

Ready-made cleaners

  • Several ready-made cleaning products remove stickers from glass well.
  • Always read and follow the directions on ready-made cleaners. Generally you’ll apply the product to the sticker or sticky residue, let it sit and then scrape or wipe with a rag.

How to remove stickers from plastic

Oils

  • Apply any sort of cooking oil directly onto the sticker. Cooking oil spray works fine, as well.
  • Let it sit for about 10–15 minutes, or until the sticker begins to soften.
  • Scrape away any residual sticker with a plastic scraper.
  • Finish by rubbing the spot with a clean rag to remove any excess oil.

Peanut butter

  • Peanut butter is super effective at dissolving sticker adhesive from plastic due to its high fat content.
  • Smear a thick layer of peanut butter (we’d opt for smooth versus chunky) onto the sticker you want to remove.
  • Let the peanut butter sit for about an hour.
  • The sticker should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper.

Mayonnaise

  • Mayo also has a super high fat content, like peanut butter.
  • Just act like you’re making a turkey club, and spread a thick layer of (ideally full-fat) mayo onto the sticker.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Wipe the mayo, sticker and adhesive clean off.
  • Mayo could damage the paint job on certain surfaces, so best to test this technique on a less noticeable section of the item.

How to remove stickers from wood

To avoid warping or discoloration of treated wood, be sure to test out a small, inconspicuous piece of the material before diving into any of these techniques. Also, we wouldn’t mess with lacquered, oak or mahogany wood because they’re soft and sensitive and you risk doing major damage to them by exposing them to corrosive materials or heat.

Untreated wood versus painted wood

Untreated Wood

Raw material can tolerate more abrasive types of acetone solvents and alcohol-containing substances. To remove stickers from untreated wood, you can sometimes use alcohol, vinegar, acetone and other solvents. But try testing a small bit on an inconspicuous piece of the untreated wood, just to be sure it’s not damaging or discoloring it.

  • Using a spray bottle, apply the solvent onto the sticker’s surface.
  • Let it absorb for about a minute.
  • Gently scrape the sticker off with a knife or spatula.
  • Wipe the surface clean with a damp rag.

Painted Wood

White vinegar can remove stickers from treated or painted wood.

  • Heat a bowl of white vinegar in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • Dip your clean rag or sponge in the warm vinegar, and wring out.
  • Soak the unwanted sticker in warm vinegar using your sponge or rag.
  • Let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  • The sticker should peel and soften so you can remove it with your fingers.

More techniques for removing stickers from wood

Rubber eraser

  • The eraser technique for removing stickers from wood is a bit different than the previously mentioned ones, so read carefully.
  • First, wet the sticker with a clean, damp rag.
  • Then wipe rub the sticker gently with a coarse cloth.
  • Hit the sticker with the rubber eraser while it’s still a bit damp.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Rubbing alcohol

  • Most alcohol-based products will dissolve sticker adhesive from glass. (Nail polish remover or vodka are good substitutes!)
  • Soak a rag or paper towel in your rubbing alcohol.
  • Cover the sticker you want to remove with the alcohol-soaked rag.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward. Careful if you’re using plastic scrapers on wood to not damage it. If the sticker still doesn’t peel off, repeat the soaking steps.

Oils

  • Apply any sort of cooking oil directly onto the sticker. Cooking oil spray works fine, as well.
  • Let it sit for about 10–15 minutes, or until the sticker begins to soften.
  • Scrape away any residual sticker with a plastic scraper.
  • Finish by rubbing the spot with a clean rag to remove any excess oil.

Vinegar

  • Soak a rag with white vinegar.
  • Cover the offending sticky area with your vinegar-soaked rag.
  • Let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward. Careful if you’re using plastic scrapers on wood to not damage it. If the sticker still doesn’t peel off, repeat the soaking steps.

Acetone

  • Manually remove as much of the sticker as possible.
  • Make sure the area is well ventilated (open windows, turn on fans).
  • Soak a rag in acetone.
  • Rub the sticker with the acetone-soaked rag until the adhesive dissolves.
  • If the wood is varnished, rinse with water to finish.
  • Dry with a clean rag.

Hair dryer

  • Heat from a hair dryer is one of the cleanest ways to remove stickers (especially old bumper stickers!).
  • Turn on your hair dryer on low heat, and slowly, patiently blast it toward the sticker you wish to remove for about 30 seconds or until the sticker becomes pliable.
  • The sticker should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper. Careful if you’re using plastic scrapers on wood to not damage it.
  • Finish the wood surface by polishing it with a clean microfiber rag.

Hot water + dish soap

  • Add a couple drops of dish soap such as Dawn to hot water, either in your sink or a bucket.
  • Submerge a clean rag in the soapy water. Wring out the rag. You don’t want to soak the wood too much, or it may warp. (Think about what happens to a wood cutting board in the dishwasher.)
  • Cover the sticker with the rag, and let it soak until the sticker softens.
  • Scrape away the remaining sticker and adhesive with a plastic scraper.
  • If the sticker left residue, add 1 drop of baby oil to a clean, dry rag, and rub it until the sticker comes off.

How to remove stickers from your car

Hey, while you’re at it, why not clean your car windows, too?

How to remove bumper stickers

Hair Dryer

  • Heat from a hair dryer is one of the cleanest ways to remove stickers, especially old bumper stickers!
  • Turn on your hair dryer on low heat, and slowly, patiently blast it toward the sticker you wish to remove for about 30 seconds or until the sticker becomes pliable.
  • The sticker should peel right off—but if it doesn’t, gently scrape away any remaining residue with a plastic scraper. Careful if you’re using plastic scrapers on your car to not damage the paint job.
  • Follow up by buffing fresh wax into the bumper with a car-safe buffer pad.

Vinegar

  • Soak a rag with white vinegar.
  • Cover the offending sticky area with your vinegar-soaked rag.
  • Let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  • The sticker should wipe clean afterward. Careful if you’re using plastic scrapers on your car to not damage the paint job.
  • If the sticker still doesn’t peel off, repeat the soaking steps.
  • Follow up by buffing fresh wax into the bumper with a car-safe buffer pad.

How to remove stickers from a laptop

It was funny when you put that borderline offensive sticker on your laptop while you were freelancing, but turns out it’s NSFW now that you’re back in an office.

If it’s still fresh, try to scrape.

  • If the sticker is relatively fresh, hit it with a plastic scraper to try to get the majority of it off. You can finish off the residual adhesive with peanut butter, mayo or a rubber eraser.
  • If your sticker has been there for a while, you may want to use something more abrasive, like rubbing alcohol, or vinegar to remove it. But you’ll want to be super careful if applying these corrosive materials to your laptop. Only use them to spot treat, and use as little of them as possible. Make sure none of them drip into your keyboard or electrical hookup ports. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Give ’er a peel.

  • Wedge your nail beneath one of the sticker’s corners, and start peeling. If your nails are too short, use a tool such as a plastic putty knife or a credit card. Don’t use a metal razor, or you’ll risk scratching the laptop.

Pull gently.

  • Pull the sticker up slowly, as best as you can. As you pull the lifted bit, work at the point where the sticker meets the laptop with a fingernail to prevent the sticker from tearing.
  • Peel until you’ve (ideally!) lifted the sticker off the laptop.

Dissolve remaining adhesive.

  • Soak a microfiber rag in hot water, and wring it out.
  • Rub any residual adhesive with the damp microfiber rag.
  • Careful not to get moisture into the important bits of your laptop.
  • Gunk still there? Try the rubber eraser method.

Finish with good ol’ soap + water.

  • Add a couple drops of dish soap to hot water, either in your sink or a bucket.
  • Submerge a clean rag in the soapy water. Wring out the rag thoroughly.
  • Rub the sticky area with the rag, making tiny circles. Wipe soapy residue with a clean, damp rag, and dry with a towel.

How to remove sticker residue

Rubbing alcohol

Dip a corner of a microfiber rag in rubbing alcohol. Scrub sticker residue with tight, circular motions to remove.

White vinegar + warm water

Combine a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and warm water, and apply with a microfiber rag.

Tape

Grab some duct tape, and blot the sticker residue with its sticky side. This might seem counterintuitive, but it ought to do the trick. If the duct tape leaves a sticky spot, hit it with rubbing alcohol.

Scrub pad

Use a nylon or melamine foam scrub pad, such as a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Soak it with water first, wring it out then get to scrubbing. If water doesn’t remove the sticky residue completely, try adding a drop of dish soap or rubbing alcohol. Be sure to wipe off any soapy residue with clean water.

Cooking oil

Apply a few drops of cooking oil—olive, canola, coconut or even baby oil—onto a clean rag or paper towel. Wipe the sticker residue with the oil until it peels off.

We know that was an obscene amount of information, but hey. Stickers are persistent little buggers by nature, and we want to help you execute a clean breakup. Whether you’ve outgrown one another or you just don’t want your vehicle to be branded with “Coexist” or “Don’t Tread On Me” anymore, we’ve got your back.

Related Articles

Easy Step-By-Step Guide on How To Clean A Grill

An easy-to-follow guide to cleaning your charcoal, gas, stainless steel, or cast-iron grill. Learn how to keep your grill in tip-top shape for summer barbecues.

How To Clean Countertops (Marble, Quartz, Butcher Block, Laminate)

An easy-to-follow guide to cleaning your marble, quartz, concrete, butcher block, laminate, or stainless steel countertops—learn how to keep your countertops clean.

How To Clean Your Home In 5 Easy Steps

An easy-to-follow guide to cleaning your home and creating a cleaning routine that you can stick to. Plus see the best products that will keep your home clean.

How To Clean Every Part of Your Microwave

An easy-to-follow guide to cleaning your microwave from inside out, with helpful tips and recommended products.

How To Clean Walls With Paint Or Wallpaper In 5 Easy Steps

An easy-to-follow guide to cleaning your walls in five steps–plus a video tutorial, product recommendations, and tips for keeping your walls clean.

Clean Your Car Seats In 6 Simple Steps

Plus 5 extra diy car cleaner hacks.

The Right Way to Clean Your Refrigerator

Cleaning expert and Youtuber BitsofBri shares the right way to clean your refrigerator from top to bottom — with bonus product recommendations and organizational tips.

Summer Cleaning Checklist With 10 Time-Saving Tips

Wondering what to clean this summer? We’ve rounded up those summer chores you might have forgotten about in one easy checklist, plus tips to make the work easier.