Remove Labels from Anything

How to remove labels from various surfaces

Most manufacturers and product distributors these days seem astute about using label products and adhesives that make it easier for consumers to remove labels from their products. But every now and then you get one that just doesn’t want to come off cleanly. If you’re like me, you probably reach for the nearest chemical to remove that gooey adhesive buildup left behind. Window Cleaners, Rubbing Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide, dish soap, nail polish remover, Skin So Soft (ha! you know you’re old when…) THEN, after the goo is smeared all over you go for the TOUGH stuff like WD-40, or M.E.K (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) only to find out that it has smeared not only the adhesive goo but may have melted or damaged your new product as well.

Does it ALWAYS have to be a STICKY situation?

Do any of these methods really work? Well; experience says Yes…and NO. M.E.K. is one of the best catchall adhesive removers for many surfaces like metal or glass, but watch out. While readily available at any hardware store, M.E.K. is one of the nastiest chemicals out there. Flammable, Irritant, and absorbable into the blood through the skin. Really best left as the choice of last resort. And follow the safety instructions if you decide to go this route. By the way, it will also dissolve certain types of plastics. WD-40 works on some surfaces as well, but you must be careful about the oily stain that can be left behind.

Rubbing alcohol and alcohol-based products like Window Cleaners, Nail polish removers, etc. all appear to help but only wet the adhesive and make it appear to go away. Once dry, the sticky adhesive residue usually reappears. For regular label use in printers etc., this gives the appearance of adhesive issues throughout the roll of labels, when in fact it is usually just normal build-up that is not being completely cleaned away.

Removing labels; tricks of the trade:

We have found the best product for the purpose of removing adhesive is a citrus cleaning solution you can get from the local hardware store (like Orange Glow). Smaller, less concentrated products are also available, like “Goo Gone”!

  • For hard surfaces you may be able to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, a mixture of warm water and vinegar and a clean cloth can also do the trick.
  • Baby oil, cooking oil, and lotions are sometimes good remedies for removing adhesive left on your skin from bandages.
  • It’s NEVER good to apply an adhesive label (or sticker) to silk, wool, leather, suede, or any other delicate fabric; however, if you peel a label off any other fabric but the adhesive doesn’t come up Try this: simply apply a paper towel to the fabric and iron over the adhesive which transfers the adhesive from the fabric to the paper towel.
  • Some labels are made with “water soluble adhesive”. Try soaking the product in hot water (if the product is submersible). If this is the case, the label will peel right off.
  • If you get adhesive build-up in a printer, running regular bond copy paper through will help clean this out. If using a laser printer, make sure it’s a laser-compatible label product. And if you regularly use label products in printers, automatic applicators, etc. you can expect some adhesive build-up over time – it’s part of the nature of the product.

Standard Disclaimer: When using something you’re unfamiliar with, always try it out in a less conspicuous area to make sure it is suitable and won’t damage the product you are trying to remove the adhesive from. A scratched or melted sunglasses lens is no more useful than one with a label stuck to it!

We hope you’ve found this information useful. If you have other remedies or solutions that work, let us know and we’ll pass them along.