How to Easily Remove Tape Residue

Tape being pulled of green metal container leaving residue

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

With so many kinds of tape on the market, you're sure to find one that works to hold up party decorations or temporarily repair a leak or sagging hemline. Eventually, you remove the tape only to discover there is sticky tape residue left behind.

How you remove the tape residue depends on the type of surface. While the main goal is to remove the residue, it is equally important to do no damage to the surface. With a bit of patience and a few products, you can remove sticky tape residue from any surface.

How Often to Clean Away Tape Residue

When you find sticky tape residue left on a surface, clean it away immediately. The longer it remains on the surface, the more dust and dirt it will attract and can become more difficult to remove.


Remove temporary tape fixes as quickly as possible. There will be less residue to remove and quick removal helps avoid possible damage to surfaces.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sponge
  • Dull knife, plastic scraper, old credit card
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Microfiber towels
  • Sink or plastic bucket
  • Handheld hairdryer
  • Art gum eraser


  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Vegetable oil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Glass cleaner
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Paper towels
  • WD-40
  • Commercial glue remover (Goo-Gone or De-solve-It)


Materials and tools to remove tape residue from surfaces

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Remove Tape Residue From Fabric

  1. Remove Residue From Washable Fabrics

    Heat a small amount of undiluted distilled white vinegar in the microwave until it is warm but not boiling. Dip a sponge in the warm vinegar and squeeze it over the sticky area until the fabric is saturated. The adhesive should begin to loosen and roll up so you can lift it away with a dull knife or the edge of a spatula.

    If you have it accessible, De-solv-it and Goo-Gone work even faster that white vinegar. After using either method, treat the area with a dab of heavy-duty laundry detergent, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then wash as usual.

    Check the sticky area before tossing the fabric in a hot dryer. Repeat the steps if necessary. Do not fabrics in the dryer until all of the tape residue is gone.

    Tape residue scrubbed off yellow tank top with sponge and warm vinegar

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Remove Residue From Dry-Clean-Only Fabrics

    When it comes to removing residue from dry-clean only fabrics, it is best to leave this to a professional rather than risk damaging your fancy clothes. Taking garments with tape residue to a dry cleaner is the best course of action.

    Tank top with tape residue placed in white mesh bag

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Remove Tape Residue From Glass

  1. Remove Residue With Oil

    If the sticker or the residue won't budge, saturate the area with vegetable oil (even butter or peanut butter will work!). Cover the residue with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Use a dull knife or plastic scraper to remove the sticker and residue. Clean the glass with glass cleaner.

    Same story here—if you have it accessible, De-solv-it and Goo-Gone work quickly and efficiently to remove the residue.

    Small glass jar with tape residue marks

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Use Isopropyl Alcohol

    Place a few drops of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on a cotton ball or paper towel to saturate the sticker. After saturating the sticker, wait at least 10 minutes and use a plastic scraper to remove the adhesive. Once the residue is gone, use the alcohol and a microfiber cloth to leave a streak-free shine.

    Rubbing alcohol added to glass jar with cotton pad to remove tape residue

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Remove Tape Residue From Metal

  1. Saturate the Residue With Oil

    Saturate the adhesive residue with vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it soak for 30 minutes. Use a plastic scraper and an old cloth to wipe away the residue. Wash the area with warm soapy water to remove the oil and buff dry with a soft cloth.


    Do not use abrasive cleaning powder, steel wool, or sandpaper to remove the residue. They will leave scratches on the surface of the metal.

    Metal box with tape residue covered in plastic wrap and vegetable oil

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Apply Heat

    Use a handheld hair dryer set to medium to heat the residue. The adhesive will soften and can often be wiped away.

    Blow dryer applying heat to metal container with tape residue

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Spray with WD-40

    Spray the sticky residue with a bit of WD-40. Let it work for a few minutes then wipe away the lubricant and the residue.

    WD-40 sprayed on metal container to remove tape residue

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Remove Tape Residue From Painted Surfaces

Before using any solvent or cleaning product, test it in an inconspicuous space to make sure it does not damage or change the color of the paint.

  1. Use Heat

    Set a handheld hairdryer to medium heat and apply the hot air to the tape residue for about 15 seconds. Use a thin plastic scraper or the edge of the credit card to lift the adhesive from the painted surface.

    Blow dryer adding heat to tape residue on painted surface and scraped with credit card

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Try Warm Sudsy Water or Warm Vinegar

    Heat some water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Dip a soft cloth in the mixture and wring until just damp. Place the warm cloth over the sticky area for about 30 seconds. Gently rub away the adhesive.

    You can also heat a small amount of distilled white vinegar and follow the same steps.

    Finish by "rinsing" the area with a clean wet cloth and dry with a soft towel.

    White cloth rubbing tape residue on painted surface with sudsy water

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Use an Art Gum Eraser

    Rub the sticky area with an art gum eraser applying gentle pressure. The eraser will loosen the adhesive for wiping away with a damp microfiber cloth.

    Art gum eraser rubbing tape residue on painted surface

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Try a Commercial Solvent

    Follow the label directions carefully. Goo Gone and Un-du are two brands that work well to remove sticky residue.

    Commercial solvent sprayed on tape residue with white cloth

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Tips for Removing Tape Residue From Surfaces

  • Read product labels carefully.
  • Work slowly. Do not scrub or scrape harshly which can damage surfaces.
  • Do not oversaturate painted surfaces to prevent drywall or wood from being damaged.
  • Work in small sections.
  • Do not allow any moisture to enter electrical outlets or appliance ports.