How to Remove Sticker Residue From Glass

Childs hand with bee and flower sticker on window pane

Elena Botta/ Moment Open/ Getty Images

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

If you want to see a happy kid, give them a sheet of stickers. If you want to see an unhappy parent, watch them trying to remove the stickers from every surface in their home—even clothes and furniture. If you're lucky the stickers ended up on a windowpane, mirror, or car window.

While they can cause some havoc on these surfaces, it's easier to remove stickers and their residue from glass than other materials. With just a few common supplies and a bit of patience, the stickers and labels can be but a memory.

Before You Begin

It is usually the adhesive used on the sticker or label that is the most difficult to remove from glass. However, the front surface of the sticker may also prove to be problematic. If the sticker or label is unfinished paper, the surface will lift away easily, usually with just water.

If the paper is coated with a glossy or metallic finish that is water-repellent, you may need to score the surface to make removal easier. Use a safety box cutter to gently score the surface of the sticker in a grid. Do not use excessive pressure or you could scratch the glass.

Static window clingers may be made from a gel-like plastic. They are supposed to easily peel away but extreme temperatures may "melt" them to the glass. You'll need to score these stickers as well to break the seal.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Plastic scraper
  • Safety box cutter
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Sink or bucket
  • Hand-held hairdryer
  • Hand-held clothes steamer

Materials

  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Olive oil
  • Butter or peanut butter
  • Plastic wrap
  • Masking tape
  • Glass cleaner
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Paper towel

Instructions

  1. Determine the Type of Label

    Make your life easier by taking time to determine if the label needs to be scored before you attempt to remove the sticker and adhesive residue from the glass surface.

  2. Soak in Warm Water

    If the label or sticker is on a piece of glass that can be submerged in a sink or bucket, soaking in warm water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid is a good first step. Many paper labels will practically float away after an hour or so.

    If you can't submerge the glass item, dampen a paper towel with plain water and place it over the label. Allow it to remain for at least 30 minutes and check if the label has loosened.

    Use a plastic scraper, the edge of a credit card, or a dull knife to lift away the sticker. If no adhesive remains, use a bit of glass cleaner and a lint-free microfiber cloth to clean the glass and leave it streak-free. If there is still adhesive on the glass, treat it with isopropyl alcohol.

  3. Soak the Sticker With Isopropyl Alcohol

    Use a few drops of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol on a cotton ball or paper towel to saturate the sticker. The alcohol is a solvent that will cut through almost any adhesive and it leaves a streak-free finish to the glass.

    After saturating the sticker and waiting at least 10 minutes, use a plastic scraper to remove the label and the adhesive. Don't scrub too hard or you can scratch the glass. Simply reapply the alcohol to any remaining residue and let it work again. Once the sticker is removed, you can use the alcohol and a microfiber cloth to remove any adhesive and leave a streak-free shine.

    Tip

    If you don't have any rubbing alcohol, use a bit of vodka or gin. They work great!

  4. Apply Oil, Butter, or Peanut Butter

    Any type of vegetable oil (corn, coconut, olive), butter, margarine, or nut butter can be applied to a sticker to help loosen the adhesive. Apply a few drops to a paper towel and saturate the sticker or rub on the more solids fats. To help it absorb well and prevent drips, cover the area with a piece of plastic wrap and secure it with some masking tape.

    Allow the oil to sit for at least 30 minutes (a couple of hours won't hurt) and then use a dull edge to scrape away the sticker. Wash in warm soapy water if possible, or use a glass cleaner to finish the task.

  5. Use Heat

    Some adhesives will release easily when heat is applied. Use a hand-held hairdryer, heat gun, or a hand-held clothes steamer on its highest setting directed on the sticker for one to two minutes. As soon as the heat melts the adhesive, promptly begin to peel the sticker away with a plastic scraper. If the sticker cools, the adhesive may reharden.

    Warning

    Use extreme caution when removing the sticker. Hot glass looks just like cold glass but leaves a lasting impression on your skin.