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Cleaning Pro: The Step Most People Forget When Trying to Remove Stickers From Glass

Plus, easy ways to get every layer of sticker off any kind of glass

Whether it’s the result of a mischievous child, a stubborn seasonal decoration, a lingering manufacturer label — or even a dreaded parking violation on your car — stuck-on stickers all have one thing in common: they can be extremely tough to remove. “The trick with stickers is you need to tackle both layers of the sticker — the front-facing part, which can be made of several different materials, as well as the glue residue on the back,” explains James King, operations manager for Deluxe Maids. “Luckily, with just a few easy steps and common household items, you can banish the sticker as well as its residue and get your glass shining again.” Read on to learn how to get sticker residue off of glass.

The first step most people forget: Slice up the sticker front

If you’re like most of us, you know to soak a sticker that you want to remove in hot water (more about that below), but you may not know to do this first: For any sticker surface that’s water-resistant, carefully use a box cutter, razor or sharp knife to lightly carve lines into the surface of the sticker. No need to dig all the way down to the surface — just press hard enough to carve into the top layer of the sticker. Criss-cross the lines across the entire surface; the more lines, the merrier, as this will allow water (from our second step below) to seep into the paper side of the sticker behind the glossy finish.   

Plastic stickers, also sometimes called “decals,” are designed to be “easily removable,” if they remain in the same place for too long or are placed on a window that was heated up by the sun, they can fuse to the glass just like a regular sticker. If this is the case, just follow the scoring steps above.

Step 2: Soak it in soap and water

How to Get Sticker Residue off of Glass, with soap and water!
Mint Images/ Getty Images

Good old-fashioned soap and water are powerful enough to lift even the oldest, most stuck-on stickers. Just follow the below steps to let the magic of water lift sticker gunk.

If the sticker is stuck on a small item

Place the mirror or glass item in your sink or bath, add a squeeze of dish soap, then fill the sink or bath with just enough warm water to cover the area in question, says King,

“Leave it for an hour or so, and most of the time, the entire front part of the sticker will literally dissolve.”

If this sticker is stuck on a large surface

You can still “soak” the sticker by wetting a paper towel, adding a squirt of dish soap, and then placing the soapy towel over the sticker. The weight of the moisture will help hold the towel in place, explains King. After about 30 minutes to an hour, remove the towel and check the front of the sticker. If it peels away with no problem, move on to the next step. But if still stuck on, re-dampen the towel and let it sit for 30 more minutes.

Alternatively, you can make up a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar, soak a rag in it and then lay it on the sticker as described in this video:

Step 3: Scrape excess paper off

Now that the bonds of the sticky residue are weakened, just grab a credit card, spatula, paint scraper, or razor blade and scrape off any remnants of the front part of the sticker until all the bits of the paper are completely gone. Glue residue may remain on the glass – but it’s easy to remove this final barrier with our last step below.

Step 4: Lift the glue

If the sticky stuff is almost gone

Use rubbing alcohol, vinegar or vodka: all of these are considered “solvents,” meaning they will penetrate and break up the sticker’s lingering glue molecules. “To do, just pour your solvent of choice on a clean rag, then hold it over the residue for about a minute,” recommends Angela Rubin, manager at Hellamaid. “After it’s soaked in a bit, gently rub the spot with the damp rag until the residue is completely wiped away.”

If the glue proves harder to remove

peanut butter in a jar to remove sticker glue on glass

Fats, like cooking oil and peanut butter, work wonders on stubbornly sticky surfaces by greasing up the bond between the glue and the glass. “Gently rub the oil on the spot using a rag and buff it into the glue until it wipes away,” says Rocky Vuong, owner of Calibre Cleaning. “It should take only about a minute or two of rubbing with the oil to dislodge the residue. If it remains stuck on, just add a little baking soda — the gentle grit will work the oil into the residue without scratching the glass.”

If the glue is from a decal

Simply run your hairdryer over the glue! The heat will melt the residue and make it more pliable — this can be especially useful to soften decal residue that got melted onto the window. “Set your hairdryer on low and move it back and forth across the sticker, holding it about an inch or two away,” says Muffetta Krueger, founder of Muffetta’s Domestic Assistants. “When you notice the residue start to glisten or turn less opaque, turn off the hairdryer and rub the spot with a warm, damp rag until it’s gone.”  (Click here to see Martha Stewart’s trick to using a hair dryer to remove a sticker from a pan.)

Finally, once the glue residue is history, get your glass gleaming by spraying it with a cheap yet effective DIY glass cleaner: A simple 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water works beautifully to get glass surfaces looking new again!

Related: How To Get Wax Out of a Candle Jar: Pros Explain When To Use Cold vs Heat

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