Removal of sticky residue.
May 25, 2009 5:11 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to remove thoroughly sticky residue from furniture that appears to be vinyl?

I've got some old chairs that appear to be covered in a material like vinyl, and they are covered with a severely sticky residue. Like a thick layer of it. It's like the residue left behind by a sticker, but lots of it. What's the best way to remove it? The manufacturers' note states that it should only be cleaned using water and mild soap. No solvents or abrasives should be used.

I've read this thread and other similar pages on the internet, and there's so many different products recommended. Is there one right answer? Or one answer that's better than the others?

Should I disregard the manufacturers' warning against solvents? Is this just a by-product of the material itself?
posted by kidbritish to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
You could try a test spot of peanut butter on an inconspicuous area (leave for 10-15 minutes before wiping it off), and if it doesn't leave a mark, slather on a thin layer of the peanut butter onto the sticky residue. Let it sit about 30 minutes, then gently wipe it off with a dry paper towel or dry washcloth. It might not get it all off on the first round, but it could help remove the majority of the stuff.
posted by shimmerstory at 5:15 PM on May 25, 2009

I always use goo gone for that kind of stuff, seconding trying it with a test spot first though.
posted by BrnP84 at 5:21 PM on May 25, 2009

Why don't you soak a paper towel in Murphy Oil Soap and let it sit on the spot for a while.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:32 PM on May 25, 2009

You could try rubbing alcohol, after testing it in an inconspicuous spot first.
posted by COD at 5:44 PM on May 25, 2009

Recommending Windex window cleaner and a vinyl eraser for abrasion to remove the layer. The ammonia solution of windex is mild enough not to do damage to the vinyl surface, and the vinyl eraser will scrub without abrading. If you use very caustic materials to clean your vinyl, it will melt, and if you use very abrasive materials you will have a lot of tiny scratches that will fill with dirt and look very bad after a while. Baby wipes also help as a supplement. Just be patient and let the cleaner stand a bit rather than attacking it with brute force. A dull knife like a palette knife scraped gently at a ninety degree angle will help as well.
posted by effluvia at 6:21 PM on May 25, 2009

I would try a test spot of cooking oil, let it sit, and then scrape the gunk off with a hard plastic spatula or a dough scraper or the edge of a credit card (maybe not an actual credit card that you plan on using, but some sort of plastic edge). It works to remove sticky label residue from glassware, plastic containers, metal, etc. You might have to do it a couple of times and graduate from plastic scraper to actually rubbing the gunk off with your hands. You can then use soap and water to clean off the oil.

If the vinyl is just on the seats, it might be easier to recover them with fresh vinyl. In my case, I had basic wooden kitchen chairs with fabric-covered seats. I just unscrewed and removed the seats, used the existing fabric as a template for the new fabric, and staple-gunned the new fabric in place.

(Can't say how safe it is, but I once watched a workman use a can of WD-40 to remove adhesive tile residue from a hard wood floor. It worked like a charm, but scary in a highly flammable sort of way.)

Good luck!
posted by Majorita at 7:22 PM on May 25, 2009

Maybe some sort of orange oil cleaner? We've got some at home "orange power" that is the miracle cleaner for sticky residue. "all natural" too. I don't have the bottle here to see if it's safe on vinyl.
posted by defcom1 at 9:17 PM on May 25, 2009

Goo Gone ftw!
It also works really well for getting oil stains out of fabric... I use it all the time.
posted by nitor at 9:40 PM on May 25, 2009

My general recommendation for removing any kind of sticky residue is xylene (try "white board cleaners" at your local office store), but that can be rather an atom bomb when you need a scalpel -- what can I say, I'm a *nix user who likes power tools. With all of these recommendations, and especially with the organic solvents, try on an inconspicuous spot first.
posted by quarantine at 10:52 PM on May 25, 2009

I use Shellite on cleaning cloths or rags to remove very sticky double-sided tape residue from all kinds of things, pretty much on a daily basis.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:44 PM on May 25, 2009

I tend to prefer acetone (nail polish remover) for removing tape residue. But, definitely test some on a hidden piece of the material, to make sure that it won't dissolve the upholstery, too.
posted by Citrus at 10:23 AM on May 26, 2009

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