Can I remove the residue?
November 2, 2005 10:22 PM   Subscribe

How do you get that sticky glue residue off of the the back/front of things (e.g. a book) that a sticker used to be on?

This is actually something I've been curious about for a while, but was only reminded of recently when I bought a used book with a sticker on the back. I removed the sticker in strips and pieces, but there's still that sort of mixture of paper and glue left on it in the general outline of the original sticker. So how about it - is there an easy way to get this stuff off without damaging the book (or dvd, or whatever may be my next target for sticker removal)?
posted by Stauf to Media & Arts (25 answers total)
WD-40 works well on CD cases, but I'm not sure how it work on a paper-basedd product.
posted by stopgap at 10:29 PM on November 2, 2005

Best answer: Goo Gone

posted by undertone at 10:34 PM on November 2, 2005

My brother has removed stickers and residue from cars by using a blowdryer to liquify the glue. YMMV.
posted by acoutu at 10:36 PM on November 2, 2005

Baby oil gets that stuff off metal like nobody's business.

How to Remove Stickers
posted by BackwardsCity at 10:39 PM on November 2, 2005

I've used rubbing alcohol before, worked for me.
posted by HSWilson at 10:54 PM on November 2, 2005

Eucalyptus oil works well in most cases, and it's cheaper than branded "goo off" products. Might not be so crash hot for books, but it worked wonders getting sticker residue off our fridge.
posted by arha at 11:14 PM on November 2, 2005

Yeah, definitely Goo Gone. Or go to your health food store and get some orange oil (it's an essential oil and super concentrated). Works like a charm.
posted by crapulent at 11:15 PM on November 2, 2005

Lighter fluid. Cheap and easy to get. it can sometimes stain the item bu that's very, very rare. Test in a small area first.
posted by Manhasset at 12:35 AM on November 3, 2005

WD-40 works like a charm. We use it all the time at the bookstore. If the sticker itself won't come off, use acoutu's suggestion; 30 seconds or so with a hair dryer should soften the glue enough to gently pull the sticker off. WD-40 will do the rest.
posted by mediareport at 12:43 AM on November 3, 2005

I've used ordinary nailpolish remover (acetone free) to remove the gummy residue left on CD cases after removing the sticker.

Eucalyptus oil simply smeared the residue around, I found.

I've never used either of those products on books. I've found that, with some persistence, simply rubbing the pad of your thumb over the sticky area will eventually get rid of the gum on a paperback cover. Probably a combination of friction and the oils in your fingertips break it down, I don't know.
posted by Ritchie at 1:10 AM on November 3, 2005

I used to work in a used bookstore and we would use paint thinner on a swab of cotton. Works great and does not distort or destroy the paper.
posted by RoseovSharon at 2:51 AM on November 3, 2005

For plastic and glass I use Goo Gone. Then I use dishwashing liquid with warm water to take off the remaining sticky residue.

For books and collectibles I use a very small amount of regular peanut butter (non-chunky kind). You gently rub the peanut butter on the paper decal until it becomes transparent and then it should peel off. Then using a soft cloth you buff off the peanut butter.
posted by plokent at 4:47 AM on November 3, 2005

Naptha. Ronoco Lighter Fluid is the gold standard. Note this is the liquid at room temp stuff. The lighter fluid in a pressurized can is butane, and won't work.
posted by eriko at 5:00 AM on November 3, 2005

I agree about WD40 on non-porous surfaces and materials. On paper, fabric, or other porous/wickable materials, I've found that applying a little baby powder, or other talc based product, and rubbing with a thumb, or a gum eraser, works well.
posted by paulsc at 5:07 AM on November 3, 2005

Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), you can get it cheaply at electronics stores. I have a 500mL bottle with a spray thing on it for the express purpose of cleaning stuff.

Failing that, methylated spirits (mostly ethanol with a bit of methanol and bad taste mixed in to stop people drinking it) will probably work.
posted by polyglot at 5:27 AM on November 3, 2005

I've found that uising a soft eraser/rubber can work very well, especially on books, although with some covers (mainly comics) you can run the risk of removing the ink from the cover.

It can be a bit messy by generating a pile of rubber shavings, but it's what we used when I worked in a bookshop and eorked a treat in almost all cases. It is easier if you manage to remove the last few bits of paper from the label though.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 5:28 AM on November 3, 2005

I've used Goo Gone on paperback books (that was my first encounter with the stuff, in fact) and it works fine. Be careful, however, to daub the Goo Gone on the "shiny" finish on the book cover only, and not to go over the edge; otherwise you might get an oily residue seeping in from the reverse side of the cover.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:40 AM on November 3, 2005

posted by hooray at 6:50 AM on November 3, 2005

Best answer: I over see a team of people at my library who use GooGone to remove a variety of stickers, labels, and tapes. I heartily recommend its informed use. Just be careful about using it on any pourous surfaces (non-glossy paper, for example), as it will seep into the paper and leave a blotch. In those cases, the sticker is often stuck there for good anyways as the adhesive has seeped into the fibers.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:35 AM on November 3, 2005

If the residue is still tacky, the cheap-and-fast solution is to dab the sticky side of the original sticker quickly and repeatedly over the patch. For some reason that physics is unable to explain, the residue comes away onto the sticker, and the sticky left on the sticker doesn't come away onto the cover.

In a pinch sello/scotch/stick-tape will do the trick.
posted by Hogshead at 9:38 AM on November 3, 2005

Note that Goof-Off will melt many plastics. I've since switched to Goo-Gone, which doesn't melt plastic, and haven't found it to be any worse at removing sticky stuff. It smells better, too.
posted by zsazsa at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2005

Goo Gone is the first line for this. It does what it's designed to do, which is remove sticky goo. If it doesn't work, consider trying some of the other options mentioned above.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:22 AM on November 3, 2005

Not familiar with Goo Gone, but for years an essential element of my toolkit has been Bestine Rubber Cement solvent. You can get it at art supply stores, and it works for almost any adhesive, not just rubber cement. Where alcohol and lighter fluid just smear the residue around, Bestine cuts it immediately. I also use it for tough grease problems in the kitchen. The year I discovered Bestine (in an auto magazine, as the solution to removing bumper stickers without damaging the finish) I gave it to everybody as my Chirstmas gift, to spread the word.
posted by Rash at 11:35 AM on November 3, 2005

I've been using Goo Gone for at least 10 years to get the stickers off of CDs and parking permit sticker residue off the inside of my car windows.
posted by hogweed at 12:16 PM on November 3, 2005

I hate the smell of Goo Gone. I use Un-Du instead, which has next to no odor and dissolves almost any adhesive.

Un-Du loosens the adhesive but doesn't remove it. You have to wipe the adhesive off after you remove the label, or it will be like fresh glue and stick to anything.
posted by KRS at 12:25 PM on November 3, 2005

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