How to Remove Stickers From Wood 3 Ways

Stickers on wood

Matt Walsh / Unsplash

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Stickers can be challenging to remove, especially when they've latched themselves onto wood. Pesky price tags on a decorative picture frame. Misplaced logos on the face of your guitar. Those sily vending machine stickers your child found at the arcade and plastered onto their dresser drawers. Each has a way of cementing itself to your belongings and hanging on for dear life. Even if you're able to remove the majority of a sticker, sometimes residue lingers. In other instances, the sticker permanently damages your product on its way off.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to safely remove stickers without damaging your wood products. Here are three methods you can use to remove stickers from wood, using tools and solutions that are likely sitting in your cabinets already.

Before You Begin

The challenge with removing stickers from wood is that you don't want to damage the wood in the process.

There are many different methods you can use to remove stickers from wood, but you'll want to consider the type of wood you're working with before you make any moves. For instance, lacquer can be removed from wood using heat, so you should avoid the hair dryer method if your wooden belonging has a lacquer finish. Similarly, unfinished wood is more absorbent, so you shouldn't start with the vegetable oil method, as oil can permanently darken the wood.

All this said, here are a few tips to consider before you move forward with any of the following three methods.

  • Before you attempt any of the following methods for removing a sticker from wood, try rubbing the sticker with a warm, soapy washcloth.
  • If you're working with an antique or an expensive wooden item, make sure you spend ample time researching the correct method for your specific wood (pay attention to the finish of your wood and make sure it can weather whatever method you select).
  • Avoid using any coarse materials, such as sandpaper or steel wool, to remove stickers stuck on wood, as these can scratch and dent the wood.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Hair Dryer Method

  • 1 hair dryer
  • 1 paint scraper or credit card
  • 1 soft cloth

Rubbing Alcohol Method

  • 1 soft cloth

Vegetable Oil Method

  • 1 paint scraper or credit card

Materials

Hair Dryer Method

  • 1 cloth or paper towel
  • 1 dish soap (optional)

Rubbing Alcohol Method

  • 1 rubbing alcohol
  • 1 paper towel

Vegetable Oil Method

  • 1 vegetable oil

Instructions

How to Remove Stickers From Wood With a Hair Dryer

  1. Warm Sticker With Hair Dryer

    Start by setting your hair dryer to "low," then blow on the sticker, holding the dryer about two inches away from it. After 30 seconds, pick at the corner of the sticker with your fingernail to see if the heat has loosened it. Continue to heat the sticker for as long as five minutes, checking every so often to make sure you're not damaging the wood.

  2. Gently Lift Sticker With Tool

    Once the sticker is warmed up, its sticky underside should be softer and more pliable. At this point, you can use a plastic paint scraper or credit card to lift up the corners of your sticker and slowly peel it away. If you feel any resistance or notice any residue sticking to the wood, simply move on to the next step.

  3. Warm Underside of Sticker With Hair Dryer

    If the sticker is persistent, grab your hair dryer again and gently heat the underside of the sticker as you pull it away from the wood. If there is any remaining residue once you've removed the sticker, you can use a soft cloth with warm water (and soap, if necessary) or try one of the other methods recommended in this article.

Remove Stickers From Wood With Rubbing Alcohol

If you don't have rubbing alcohol on hand, another solvent you could consider is white vinegar. Vinegar can be especially effective on painted woods. However, make sure to test whichever liquid you select in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the sticker, especially if your wood is stained or treated.

  1. Cover Sticker in Alcohol-Soaked Cloth

    Start by soaking a paper towel or cloth in alcohol. If the sticker is particularly defiant, lay the cloth over the sticker and leave it for 30 minutes to work its magic. If you're in a hurry, move on to the next step first (you can always soak the sticker later).

  2. Gently Rub Sticker With Cloth

    Take your alcohol-soaked cloth and rub around the sticker in a circular motion. You should notice the paper and residue slowly begin to dissolve and lift away from the wood. If you experience any resistance, move back to the first step and leave the cloth and sticker together again.

  3. Wash Remaining Sticker Residue Away

    For this method, the alcohol alone should be strong enough to pry the sticker away from the wood. But, if you encounter any sticky remains, submerge a cloth in warm water (and soap, if needed), then wipe away the leftovers.

Remove Stickers From Wood With Vegetable Oil

While it's perfectly safe to use oil on wooden materials, vegetable oil may darken the color of your wood (especially if your wood is unfinished). Before you attempt this method, test the oil on the wood surface in an inconspicuous location. If you don't have vegetable oil on hand, olive oil is effective as well.

  1. Add Drops of Vegetable Oil to Sticker

    Start by coating the sticker in a thin layer of oil. You want the sticker completely covered, so the oil can penetrate the paper and loosen its grip on the wood. Leave the oil alone for at least a few minutes and as much as an hour.

  2. Gently Lift Sticker with Tool

    After the oil has soaked the sticker, use a plastic scraper or credit card (or your fingernails) to pick at the corners of the sticker. Slowly pull it up, watching for any leftover residue.

  3. Wash Away Remaining Sticker Residue

    If the vegetable oil works on the first try and removes the sticker and any sticky residue, simply wipe away any leftover oil with a damp cloth. However, if you notice some remaining residue, use some warm, soapy water to gently tackle what's left.