How to Remove Command Strips and Hooks

Command strips being removed from wall

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Hanging pictures, mirrors, or holiday decorations help us personalize our homes, but the problems begin when you want to move things around. Unsightly holes from nails or missing paint from sticky tape, such as double-sided foam tape, marred countless walls for years until 3M developed Command adhesives. This system of hooks and strips allows us to decorate and organize without harming surfaces. And it takes only a couple of household items to get the adhesive off the wall without leaving a trace.

In fact, you can remove Command strips in a few easy steps.

  • First, remove the picture.
  • Then, hold the hook in place gently; don't press it against the wall.
  • Grasp the exposed tab of the adhesive and slowly stretch it in the same direction as the strip. Always pull down in the same direction as the strip; don't pull it towards you.
  • Slowly stretch the strip straight down; keep your hand against the wall as you go.

Read on for more information, tips, and tricks.

Before Getting Started

While most of us are just happy they work, others want to understand the science behind the adhesives of the handy little hooks and strips. What makes the Command systems work without damaging the wall surface is the level of both adhesive and cohesive strength. The sticky part of the strip has adhesive strength that holds the strip to the surface. That sticky part also has cohesive strength. The cohesive strength has to be greater than the adhesive strength so that when you stretch the adhesive it will come off cleanly.

What Are Command Adhesives?

Command adhesives are a system of hooks and strips that allows users to decorate and organize without harming surfaces.

The picture-hanging strips have a two-piece hook and loop system center core. One side adheres to the item you want to hang and the corresponding half is stuck to the wall. The hook and loop system joins the two strips together. Hooks have the adhesive strip on the back of the hook and attach directly to the wall surface.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Handheld hair dryer


  • Dental floss


Materials and tools to remove command strips

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Remove Command Strips and Hooks

  1. Remove the Hanging Picture or Item

    When you're ready to change things around and remove the Command adhesive, take down the picture or decorative item so that the adhesive part of the strip or hook is exposed. For pictures hung with strips, grasp the bottom corners of the frame and with an upward movement, peel the picture frame away from the wall. This will release the hook and loop component of the Command strip.

    Hanging picture removed from command strip

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Stretch the Tab

    Grasp the exposed tab of the adhesive and slowly stretch it in the same direction as the strip. It may stretch up to 15 inches before it releases from the wall. Always pull flatly in the same direction as the strip. Never pull at a ninety-degree angle.


    Except for Command Adjustable hooks, the adhesive strips and hooks cannot be reused without a new adhesive strip after they have been removed from the wall.

    Command strip tab being stretched to release from wall

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Remove a Command Strip With a Broken Pull Tab

Sometimes the exposed pull tab gets broken off and you can't get a good grip to remove the adhesive without damaging the wall. Here's what to do.

  1. Cut a Piece of Floss

    Measure out a piece of uncolored dental floss about 12 inches long. The piece of floss needs to be long enough so you can wrap each end around your index fingers several times to make a "dental-floss saw."


    If you don't have dental floss, thin fishing line works well, too.

    Dental floss measured out

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Warm Up the Strip

    Turn on a handheld hair dryer to the medium or medium-high setting. Holding the dryer about 3 or 4 inches away from the strip, move it back and forth over the strip for about 20 seconds. Touch the Command strip; it should feel warm. If not, move a bit closer and use the dryer until the strip is warm to the touch.

    Hair dryer blowing hot air on broken command strip

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Slide and Saw

    Once the strip is warm, wrap each end of the dental floss around your two index fingers so that you have a taut piece between them. Slide the floss under the top of the Command Strip and gently and slowly saw back and forth as you move down the strip. The strip should slip off the wall when you reach the bottom of the strip.

    Dental floss sliding behind command strip

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Remove the Remaining Adhesive

    If any adhesive remains on the wall, use your fingertips or a clean microfiber cloth to rub the surface gently. The adhesive should peel away.

    Remaining adhesive removed with microfiber cloth

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Tips for Better Results From Command Strips

  • Take time to read the directions before installing or removing the strips.
  • Choose the proper hook or strip for the job. There are weight and humidity limits specified for each product.
  • Be sure the wall is free from grease, dust, and grime. Clean the area with a bit of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on a lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • Do not attempt to use the strips or hooks on freshly painted walls (wait at least seven days after painting), wallpaper, fabric, or textured surfaces like brick.