How to remove really old scotch tape?
March 7, 2014 12:17 PM   Subscribe

How to remove really old scotch tape?

At work, I have a mostly metal desk. The person who previously used this desk (who has retired) apparently had a bunch of little pieces of scotch tape stuck all over it, for who knows what reason. My boss asked me if I could try to get rid of it, just to make the desk look a little nicer, which I agree with.

The problem is, this tape is so old (probably several years) that I cannot peel it off. At most, I get little scrapings coming off on my fingernail, but I can't lift and peel it. I tried using some "Goo Gone" - letting it sit on there for several minutes, then wiping it, then trying to scrape again, but I got the same result. Are there any other ways I could get rid of this stuff to make my desk look a little tidier?
posted by LaurenIpsum to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could you try using a razor blade to scrape it off?
posted by anthropophagous at 12:21 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Use a razor blade to take off the tape, and then use Citra Solv to take off any lingering adhesive.

Citra Solv is sold at Whole Foods and is made from orange oil or something natural, but it eats up gunk like it's concentrated hydrochloric acid (which it's not).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2014

Try a razor blade at a low angle (almost parallel to the desk). That should get the tape itself off without scratching the desk, then the Goo Gone will work on the remaining adhesive. The Goo Gone won't penetrate through the existing tape until you get that off mechanically, though.
posted by jeffjon at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there any sort of softish plastic scraper you could use that might be able to get under the edges a bit but not scratch up the metal? Maybe the local hardware store would have something like that.
posted by limeonaire at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

White vinegar and a plastic scraper.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:23 PM on March 7, 2014

Try rubbing alcohol.
posted by rhizome at 12:23 PM on March 7, 2014

This also seems like potentially useful advice, involving an iron to help soften the old adhesive and a plastic scraper. I don't know how well the heat would work on Scotch tape vs. duct tape, though.
posted by limeonaire at 12:24 PM on March 7, 2014

I have used a blow dryer and a razor blade to great effect to accomplish this task in the past. Follow with rubbing alcohol to remove residue. YMMV.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:30 PM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

My best results with Goo Gone were an hour a rather liberal coating of the stuff.
posted by adipocere at 12:44 PM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've always used peanut butter and a razor blade. Smear some peanut butter on the old tape, let it sit a few minutes and scrape, scrape, scrape. Then more peanut butter, wait, scrape, scrape. Etc. Works for me.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:49 PM on March 7, 2014

You may discover that using an old credit card instead of a razor blade will mitigate the chances of scratching the surface. I sometimes cut up yogurt containers to make little scrapers.

it may be that you need to get the outer layer of of the tape (the plastic part) off before your solvent of choice can attack the adhesive.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 1:22 PM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

I use lighter fluid to remove the residue from labels...maybe it would work with tape?
posted by Shadow Boxer at 1:31 PM on March 7, 2014

As if you don't have enough options already, my favorite method is finger nail polish remover.
posted by sacrifix at 1:35 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can't find goo gone or similar, try olive oil. It gets off sticky residue really well, after you have scraped the tape off.
posted by photoexplorer at 2:33 PM on March 7, 2014

A blow dryer usually helps to soften adhesive, combined with other efforts.
posted by radioamy at 4:45 PM on March 7, 2014

I would try oil and salt, and separately, a hair dryer. I think I'd start with oil/salt paste left overnight though. Over all that time I'm not sure it's exactly adhesive that's the problem. Maybe it's some weird post-adhesive fossilized plastic deposit residue or something.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:28 PM on March 7, 2014

This junkantiques dealer also says lighter fluid.
posted by kmennie at 5:41 PM on March 7, 2014

Try a standard pink pencil eraser, the dryer and crumblier the better. I've had a surprising amount of luck getting tape residue off glass, and I suspect it will work just as well on metal.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:21 PM on March 7, 2014

A label scraper
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:22 PM on March 7, 2014

Goo gone essentially is lighter fluid with an added citrus soap.

Glue residues can be tricky. If a long soak (at least 5 minutes) with Goo Gone isn't doing the trick,you might try acetone/nail polish remover. Vinegar is highly unlikely to work on glues though.

Heat can definitely help too, but don't use a heat source like a hair dryer or an iron on any solvent, ever. Both petroleum spirits (goo gone, lighter fluid) and acetone are highly flammable. Heat the glue to soften, then apply the solvent, then scrape off.
posted by bonehead at 10:24 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Acetone. That is all.
posted by three blind mice at 10:44 AM on March 8, 2014

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