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What are Some Tips for Removing Glue?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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If you have glue residue on the surface of something, whether from a previous application or from an accident, removing it is not impossible. There are, in fact, several different ways of removing glue, but the method is dependent on the surface in question. Following are some suggestions for removing glue from various surfaces.

For getting rid of glue left behind by stickers, price tags, and other manufacturer or store applications, try simple rubbing alcohol. Moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and hold it over the area in question. Once the residue is thoroughly moistened, gently scrape the glue residue off and repeat the process until the glue is completely removed. Glass, plastic, and ceramic surfaces should not be damaged by rubbing alcohol, but test a small area if the surface is painted or made of fabric.

Removing glue from pictures, baseball cards, or other paper products may be more difficult. The general idea is to dissolve the adhesive bond without compromising the fibers of the object. Paper can generally be frozen without damage, so try placing the object in question into your freezer. You may be able to stiffen the glue to a point brittle enough that it can be scraped off with an Exacto knife or razor blade. Steam may also be effective at removing glue from paper.

To remove dried glue from fabric or carpet, try holding an ice cube in a plastic baggie over the spot. Your objective, similar to the above technique, is to make the glue brittle enough to be scraped away. The plastic bag will ensure that additional moisture does not re-activate the adhesive properties of the glue.

Taking glue from wooden surfaces can sometimes be accomplished with warm vinegar. Moisten a cloth with warm vinegar, and after some compression, try rubbing away the glue. Be cautious when scraping glue from wood if you are concerned with damaging the surface finish.

The best way of getting the glue from wallpaper backing is to steam it. You can rent a portable steamer, and if you are working in a well-ventilated area, try combining the use of steam and commercial wallpaper adhesive removers. For older homes with older wall coverings, this will be a repetitive and labor-intensive process, but with persistence, it should work. You will also need a flat putty knife with a wide head to scrape the glue as you steam it.

The scientific process behind removing glue is simply the destruction of the adhesive bond through altering its moisture and temperature levels, without destroying the object to which the glue is bound. Commercial adhesive removers should be used with caution on surfaces that can be damaged unless you plan to cover the surface with something else.

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Discussion Comments
By anon981478 — On Dec 12, 2014

I was sticking gem stones to my shirt with gem tack glue. I had cardboard under my shirt. Now my shirt is stuck to the cardboard. How do I remove my shirt from the cardboard?

By anon944351 — On Apr 07, 2014

How do I remove old glue from the deck of a fiberglass boat after taking up old carpet to put down new?

By anon336103 — On May 26, 2013

How can I remove glue from the rear view mirror of my car?

By anon335369 — On May 20, 2013

I just completed a slate walkway with pebbles set into the joints between. After I was complete I sprayed EnviroHold to secure the pebbles. The result is the pebbles are secure but the surfaces of my stone have turned black and a cream color. I have tried everything I can think of but the only way that seems to work is to power wash the slate. The only problem is all the pebbles and base is falling apart. Has anyone had this problem and is there a way to remove the substance in a more effective way?

By anon118668 — On Oct 14, 2010

can anyone tell me how to remove stick on velcro glue from macro suede fabric. --Lainey

By anon75687 — On Apr 07, 2010

I recently purchased confederate money that is worth a lot but the corners are glued to the back of cardboard! How can I remove the glue without ruining the bills?

By anon74715 — On Apr 03, 2010

i have managed to glue my cooker starter button down and now it won't work! Can anyone advise me please?

By anon71169 — On Mar 17, 2010

SOS! Help! I got bottled glue on a super important paper. I don't know how to get it off.

By surreallife — On Nov 24, 2009

Removing tape and stickers from glass and mirrors can be accomplished by dabbing mayonnaise

on the area that needs cleaning.

It takes but a few minutes for the glue residue to soften at which point it becomes easy to wipe it away without too much effort.

By anon46889 — On Sep 29, 2009

We are attempting to remove old glue from the back of an antique Japanese print. What do you recommend?

By anon43815 — On Sep 01, 2009

I have glue that was used to put picture in a mat. How can I reomove without hurting the picture?

By anon37868 — On Jul 22, 2009

I have glue on my wedding dress that needs to be removed....any ideas....

By pathurry — On Nov 22, 2008

My wife works for a company that makes cabinets for modular homes. A machine places glue and a finishing molding onto a wood frame. Some glue seeps onto the finished surface. My wife uses a lacquer thinner to remove excess glue. The fumes are terrible and their is talk that the fumes are toxic.

So the question is can you recommend a safe cleaning product?

By doe — On Sep 13, 2007

Can anyone advise on how to remove dried on wallpaper paste from a good quality wallpaper (right side).

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