Stuck on you
February 9, 2008 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Best way to remove year old masking tape from plastic and glass?

I bought a house and the old owners put masking tape (the standard off-white type) on the glass panels of several cabinet doors (one side flat and the other etched) and 4 replacement window frames (plastic). Apparently they began a painting project and then either gave up or ran out of money. I considered putting the tape removal as a condition to close on the house but they screwed up so many other things I need to fix I figured they would half-ass it and ruin the windows (and they were being foreclosed on in 30 days so time was a factor). Anyway, the tape is really on there and I'm afraid of damaging the surfaces if I use any type of razor blade or scrapper. Some sections of the tape will come off if pulled very slowly but even then a lot of hard residue is left. The guy at my local hardware store suggested applying a product like Oops and then using a scraper. I can't imagine that would work on the etched glass. Any other suggestions?
posted by bda1972 to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Growing up when ever we needed to get sticky tape or residue off of plastic we used to use nail polish remover. I don't know if it will effect the quality or finishes of any wood near it though. I have also had some good luck using goo gone.
posted by lilkeith07 at 9:02 PM on February 9, 2008

A pencil eraser (the hard, crumbly pink kind that comes with cheap pencils) can work wonders. I've used it to remove scotch tape from glass, as well as glue. I'm not sure how well it would translate to the masking tape you're dealing with, but it might be worth a shot, especially to get rid of the residue.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:02 PM on February 9, 2008

If the tape is old and dried, and the substrate is smooth and hard, like tile or glass, a razor blade in a holder is the best remover. Scrape carefully at a low angle and it gives a clean surface with a clean edge.

I'd avoid any Oops or similar solvent, which I'd expect to make a sticky mess (but maybe that's wrong.)
posted by anadem at 9:15 PM on February 9, 2008

Professional Goo-be-gone or a like product. First scrape off all hardened residue with a knife or chisel. Than apply the goo-be-gone and use paper towel and rub, rub, rub, rub to remove but it will come off -- I've been doing it for some time at a number of apartments. Be sure to get the professional product (has a turpentine or petroleum smell to it) -- it works much better.
posted by orlin at 9:18 PM on February 9, 2008

Can you take the cupboard doors off? And what is the rest of each door made of? Just applying water and letting it soak for a couple of hours does wonders for old masking tape. And once you can get the tape itself off, you can remove the leftover stickiness with windex and elbow grease.

If the rest of the doors are lightly finished wood, though, the whole soaking thing may not be smart.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:41 PM on February 9, 2008

I keep a box of alcohol wipes (like you'd use before getting a needle) around for just this sort of thing. A bottle of rubbing alcohol and a paper towel would have the same effect.
posted by davey_darling at 9:57 PM on February 9, 2008

WD40. Should be a staple household item.
posted by Neiltupper at 10:13 PM on February 9, 2008

Masking tape adhesive, even when dried and hardened, is like the adhesive in almost all other adhesives in tapes, labels, stickers etc. They all have oil soluable adhesives. Goo-Gone, Goof Off, WD-40, alcohol and nail polish all work to help remove tape or labels because they are oil solvents. Salad oil or even mayonnaise will work to remove labels or to soften the hardened masking tape adhesive; but they are slow acting. Nail polish remover is risky because it is primarily acetone which can rapidly damage many types of wood finishes and plastics. Goo-Gone, Goof Off and similar products are typically kerosene based and are rarely damaging to modern wood finishes, but it's a good idea to test an inconspicuous area first. Apply enough of the solvent to wet the tape with out running off. Wait 10 or 15 minutes for it to begin to work and then begin pulling the tape off. If the tape doesn't slip off apply additional solvent and wait another 10 minutes. The tape should come off leaving some mushy, sticky adhesive behind which can be rubbed off with paper towels or terry cloth rags. Use a standard household spray and wipe type cleanser to clean-up any left over solvent and then you can do a final cleaning of the glass with window cleaner.
posted by X4ster at 11:02 PM on February 9, 2008

I used to work in a used book store. One thing we had to do a lot was remove ugly and huge stickers of other stores of the books we recieved. Goo Gone (as mentioned above) worked wonderfully. I still keep a tube of the stuff handy. But sometimes we got really tough, old stickers. That's where B'laster (warning: flash. Try the Citrus All -Purpose Cleaner) came in. There was not a sticker that B'laster couldn't, well, blast. I think it's primarily used for removing decal stickers on cars and the such, so it should be able to take care of old masking tape.
posted by Kronoss at 11:05 PM on February 9, 2008

Thirding WD-40. Used it regularly for this purpose.
posted by fire&wings at 2:44 AM on February 10, 2008

Whatever solvent you decide to try, test it on a small hidden area of the wood first, to make sure it won't do something to the finish you'll regret.
posted by amtho at 3:47 AM on February 10, 2008

When I worked as a screenprinter, we would use mineral spirits to remove "tape snot" and other adhesive residue from unfinished wood.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:55 AM on February 10, 2008

ronsonol works wonders, as does WD-40 as previously mentioned.

razor blade scraper is the best to use on glass, but will scratch plastic. use it dry first, then wipe with some solvent.

if the stuff on plastic is really stuck, get a plastic putty knife (in paint or drywall section of home improvement store) and wet the goo with solvent and scrape gently.
posted by KenManiac at 11:49 AM on February 10, 2008

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