Double-sided foam tape is a great help for simple tasks like hanging pictures or calendars on the wall. It also does a fantastic job of sticking lightweight objects on glass, wood, drywall, or plastic. But that efficiency doesn't extend to trying to remove the tape. You can end up picking at it with your fingernail, but only little pieces may come off and the adhesive remains.
The good news is that removing double-sided tape can be done successfully if you adjust your tactics to the material. Glass, wood, drywall, and plastic have slightly different tape removal methods due to the density of the material and to how they are affected by heat and solvents. In most cases, you'll be able to remove both the foam and all traces of the adhesive from several types of hard materials.
Practice extreme safety precautions if you use highly flammable petroleum-based solvents such as lighter fluid or water-displacing spray (for example, WD-40), or acetone. Dispose of solvents, soaked rags, and solvent-soaked remains in a community-approved manner. Use solvents only in well-ventilated areas. Be careful when using the razor blade. Do not use a loose razor blade. Instead, always fit the blade in a razor scraper tool.
Equipment / Tools
- Razor blade
- Razor blade scraper
- Cotton and microfiber rags
- Hairdryer or clothes iron
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Latex gloves
- Solvent (water-displacing spray, lighter fluid, or acetone)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Aluminum foil
Removing Double-Sided Tape From Glass
Scrape off Tape
With a fresh razor blade in the razor blade scraper, gently scrape the large pieces of foam and adhesive from the glass. Hold the razor blade scraper at a low angle (around 15 to 30 degrees).
Use the razor blade to scrape off the remains of the foam and adhesive while it is still wet. Drop the remains on a piece of aluminum foil. Use a clean cotton rag to remove the final bits of foam and adhesive.
Clean the solvent from the glass with a cotton or microfiber towel and isopropyl alcohol.
Removing Double-Sided Tape From Wood or Walls
Direct a hairdryer at the double-sided tape on high for about one minute. Or, you can press a clothes iron against the tape on high setting (dry, not steam) with a thin towel between the iron and the material.
Avoid prying off any of the tape in advance. For this method, you'll need as much of the tape intact as possible.
Pry Tape off
Remove the heat source. Immediately begin to peel off the tape at one corner. Work slowly and carefully to keep the tape intact. If the tape cools down and it becomes more difficult to pry off, reapply heat to the remaining section.
Clean or Sand Surface
Some adhesive may remain. For coated wood or drywall, clean the surface with a small amount of solvent pre-applied to a rag. For bare wood, do not use solvents. Instead, let the residue dry, then lightly sand it with fine-grit sandpaper.
Removing Double-Sided Tape From Plastic
Apply Heat to Plastic
Leave as much of the double-sided tape intact as possible. Turn on a hairdryer on high setting, but keep it far away from the plastic until you can determine the effect of heat on the plastic. Gradually move the hairdryer closer.
Pry off Tape
While directing the hairdryer at the tape, use your other hand to pry up one corner of the tape. Do not force the tape to come off. Instead, let the tape naturally pull away as the adhesive softens.
If removing the tape with heat does not work, use a solvent.
Test Solvent on Surface
Depending on the type of plastic, it may be damaged by solvents. So, first test a small, inconspicuous section with the solvent. Most types of plastic can be cleaned with water-displacing spray. Lighter fluid and acetone will damage most types of plastic.
Clean Tape With Solvent
Apply solvent to a clean rag. Hold the rag against the plastic surface for about 30 seconds to soften the foam and adhesive. Then, carefully rub off the remainder.
Isopropyl alcohol will whiten and discolor many types of plastic. So, clean the solvent from the plastic with a warm soap and water solution. Rinse off the soap solution with cool, clean water.
NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Acetone. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.