You can remove sticker residue on clothes and upholstery pretty easily with common household cleaners and simple tools. In many cases, white vinegar works to break up the adhesive and allow you to gently scrape it off. However, sometimes special care must be taken for upholstery, as well as delicate and dry clean-only fabrics. Use the following steps to remove adhesive residue from fabric.
|Detergent Type||Stain remover and regular detergent|
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Equipment / Tools
- A dull knife, spatula, or credit card
- Soft-bristle brush (optional)
- Old white terry cloth towel
- Undiluted distilled white vinegar
- Prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent
- Nail polish remover (optional)
- Dry cleaning solvent (for dry clean-only clothes)
Before You Begin
Always check the care label of your garment before treating it, so you can select the appropriate detergent and wash cycle. Garments made of wool, silk, lace, or any other delicate fabric might require a mild detergent and extra care, while cotton clothes usually do fine with regular detergent and normal wash cycles.
How to Remove Sticker Residue From Clothes
Soak the Stain in Warm White Vinegar
Begin by heating undiluted distilled white vinegar in the microwave until it is warm. Dip a sponge in the warm vinegar, and squeeze it over the sticky and soiled area until it is saturated and the vinegar is absorbed. The adhesive should begin to loosen and roll up, or you can lift it with a dull knife or the edge of a spatula.
Treat With Prewash Stain Remover
Rinse the area with cool water. Then, treat the stain with a prewash stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide or Persil are some of the best brands). Work the stain remover into the area with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow it to work on the stain for at least 15 minutes, and then launder as recommended on the care label.
You can also use acetone (nail polish remover) on the residue.
Do not use acetone on acetate fabrics because it will melt the fibers. You also need to be sure the fabric is colorfast by testing the acetone first on an inside seam or hem. Dip a cotton swab in the acetone, and rub on the seam. If any color transfers to the swab, do not use acetone to remove the adhesive.
If the garment is colorfast, put the sticky side face down on an old white towel. Pour the acetone onto the back of the stain. And as the adhesive loosens, rub the adhesive onto the old towel. It may take several attempts to get all the residue to come off.
After using the acetone, rinse the area well, and wash the entire garment immediately as recommended.
Check the Fabric
Check the area after washing. If any residue remains, repeat the treatment. Do not put the garment in the dryer until all of the adhesive is gone. If the garment has already been through the dryer, it might take several attempts to remove all of the residue.
Dry Clean-Only Clothes
If the garment is labeled as dry clean-only and the stickers have left adhesive on the fibers, you can spot treat the area with dry cleaning solvent. If the garment is valuable or delicate, it is best to take it to a dry cleaner. Point out and identify the stain to the professional.
For tips on removing sticker residue from suede or other napped fabrics, follow these instructions.
Apply the Solvent
Using a small sponge or cotton swab, apply the dry cleaning solvent by blotting—not rubbing.
Scrape Away the Residue
Use a dull knife or the edge of a credit card to lift away the loosened adhesive. Do not rub because that can smear the adhesive deeper into the fibers. Allow the fabric to air-dry.
How to Remove Sticker Residue From Upholstery
If the sticker landed on smooth upholstery fabric, try the heated vinegar method. All you need is vinegar and a white terry cloth towel.
Apply the Vinegar
Sponge the hot vinegar directly onto the stain. Take extra care not to oversaturate the fabric because excess moisture in the cushions can be a problem.
Blot the Stain
Use an old terry cloth white towel to blot the treated adhesive, moving to a clean area of the towel as the glue is transferred. Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent it from getting larger.
You can also use the dry cleaning solvent on fabric upholstery, and follow the same blotting and removal techniques as the vinegar. If the fabric is vintage or silk, consult a professional upholstery cleaning service; for leather upholstery, use a leather cleaner and follow product directions.