How To Get Stickers Off Glass

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Stubborn glue residue or sticker remnants marring your glass? Here's how to get unsightly gunk off without leaving scratches or damage.

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to peel off labels, price tags, kids’ stickers, decals, warranty information or operating instructions from your new glass purchase or second-hand find. The glue just won’t let go, leaving behind shredded paper and a tacky patch of adhesive.

You may be tempted to go at it with a razor blade and elbow grease, but you’ll likely scratch or damage the glass surface in the process. Instead, here are a few handy tricks to remove stickers from glass quickly and easily, using common household items or specially formulated products.

A Soapy Soak

The easiest and most straightforward way of separating stickers and glue from a glass surface is simply soaking the area in hot, soapy water for 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t use boiling water, which may crack the glass.

The heat of the water and chemicals in the soap will help break down the glue, and after a few minutes you should be able to pull the label away cleanly with your fingernails or a plastic scraper. Even the edge of an old gift card will work. If the glass surface is too large to submerge, saturate a large sponge or soft cloth in the hot, soapy water and lay it over the sticker.

A Blast of Hot Air

If soaking in hot, soapy water didn’t remove the sticker or glue goo, try blasting the area with hot air from a hair dryer. Be sure to hold the glass object away from the area where you apply the heat so you don’t burn your fingers.

Hold the hair dryer a few inches in front of the sticker or tacky patch and use the highest setting to heat the area quickly. Once the glass is hot, quickly try to scrape away the sticker or adhesive with a plastic scraper before it cools back down.

Steam Heat

The dry hot air of a hair dryer sometimes isn’t enough to break down the adhesive and peel away a tenacious sticker. The combined power of heat and water, however, may do the trick.

If you have a steam cleaner or clothing steamer, blast the sticker or tacky area with steam for a few minutes, taking care to hold the glass object away from where you are applying the heat to avoid burns. Once the glass is hot and the sticker damp, scrape away the paper and glue with a plastic scraper.

Get Greasy

Common cooking oils, peanut butter (the all-natural kind that is just oil, peanuts and salt) or lubricants like petroleum jelly or WD-40 work as a solvent to break down sticky adhesives. Apply it directly to the sticker or tacky glue residue and wait for a few minutes before attempting to rub it off with your fingers or a soft cloth.

If you use WD-40 to dislodge your stickers, wear gloves to protect your skin from the compound’s chemical ingredients.

Raid the Medicine (or Liquor) Cabinet

Rubbing alcohol or even vodka can also dislodge a sticker or get rid of sticky goo. Apply an alcohol-soaked sponge or cloth to the sticker to soak through the paper surface and reach the glue below.

If you’ve already had a go at removing the sticker and just have the tacky residue to tackle, apply the alcohol directly to the gooey area. Wait a few minutes, then use your fingers or a soft cloth to rub off the sticker or glue.

Use a Pantry Staple: Vinegar

Like oils and alcohol, distilled (AKA white) vinegar is a natural solvent that breaks down the sticker’s glue backing, making it easier to pull away. Soak a sponge, soft cloth or paper towel in vinegar and lay it on the sticker, or the glue that’s left. Leave it for a few minutes so the vinegar can soak into the glue, then remove by wiping with a soft cloth or scraping with a plastic scraper.

Windex It

Most commercial window cleaners contain mild solvents that are meant to boost their polishing power but can also be used to break down stubborn glue. Spray an ample amount of window cleaner directly on the sticker, then let it soak through the paper surface to the adhesive below before removing with a plastic scraper or soft cloth.

Get Out the Big Guns

If nothing else works, Goo Gone is specially formulated for removing gummy adhesive stickers, decals, labels and more. This chemical cleaner is a sticker-removing powerhouse that won’t scratch your glass. However, it’s toxic. Thoroughly wash and rinse any drinking glasses or other tableware to remove all traces of the product before using them to serve food or beverages.

Sticker Removal Methods to Avoid

Avoid commonly recommended sticker removal methods like razor blades, scrubbing sponges or scouring pads, baking soda and coconut oil paste or rubber erasers. These are all mildly-to-aggressively abrasive and can easily leave permanent scratches on your glass you won’t be able to remove.

Rebecca Winke
Rebecca Winke moved to Italy from Chicago in 1993 and shortly thereafter took a deep dive into country living by renovating a sprawling medieval stone farmhouse and running it as a B&B for 20 years. Today, she spends her time writing about travel, culture, and food (it's Italy, after all!) for publications like The Telegraph and Italy Magazine, as well as pondering the strange winds that blew an urban vegetarian to a farm in Umbria.