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How to Remove Adhesive from Cars

By Kathleen Burgess


Updated on

People usually put stickers on their cars to express their personality, advocacy or political views. Sometimes, stickers are even essential so you can enter exclusive properties. However, like everything else, the thoughts or ideas you literally put on your car through stickers may change. Unfortunately, removing stickers is time-consuming if you do not want to leave any residue. Even worse, if you are not too careful, adhesive residues are much more difficult to completely remove. In case you would get unlucky while removing stickers from your vehicle, start learning how to remove adhesive from cars!

How to Remove Adhesive Using Dish Soap

Isn’t it awesome that in learning how to remove adhesive from cars, you suddenly find out that simple household products can be used? To be more specific, almost every household owns a dish soap to thoroughly clean dirty dishes. Amazingly, the effectiveness of dish soap does not stop there. This type of soap can also be used for removing adhesive. Here are the steps on how to remove adhesive from cars by using dish soap:

  • Scrape off the residue.

    Since dish soap is one of the mildest substances in removing adhesive, the process might get tricky for you. To have a higher chance of totally removing adhesive from a glass surface such as the car window, scrape off the residue first with a sharp razor blade. Do not use a dull blade for it is more likely to scratch the surface. At least with a sharp blade, the removal process becomes faster.

  • Mix dish soap and hot water.

    You should not use pure dish soap because it is usually in the form of a really thick liquid. Since the adhesive is sticky, it absorbs heat and moisture better. The thick liquid will just slide over the residue.

    What you need to do is thoroughly mix a bucket of hot water and a few drops of dish soap. That ratio is best for big stickers on car windows. For smaller residues, use a bowl and an even smaller amount of dish soap – one drop will do.

  • Rub the residue with a rag.

    Even the material needed for removing adhesive can be too simple. A rag is enough to rub the adhesive off with the dish soap mixture.

    First, soak the rag into the soapy water. Then, directly rub it all over the sticky area. Once you are convinced that the surface is already 100% free from adhesive, soak another rag into plain water to wipe off remaining residues. Afterwards, wipe the area dry with a clean cloth.

How to Remove Adhesive Using Fabric Softener

Removing adhesive from your car can be a pleasing experience especially if you use liquid fabric softener. Fabric softeners usually have that hypnotizing fragrance you cannot stop smelling. However, like dish soap, this type of liquid is too mild for just one attempt. Only use it as a secondary option if your first attempt fails to completely remove the adhesive. Take a look at these simple steps on how to remove adhesive from cars by using fabric softener:

  • Create a mixture.

    Make sure to mix a 50:50 ratio of hot water and fabric softener. Combine these two liquids together in a thorough manner.

  • Wipe off the adhesive.

    Dip the rag into the mixture and simply wipe it on the sticky area. Wait until the surface is clear from adhesive.

How to Remove Adhesive Using Gasoline

Aside from its main purpose which is to provide fuel to vehicles, gasoline can also be used for removing adhesive. Check out the following tips on how to remove adhesive from cars by using gasoline:

  • Find the right kind of rag.

    For an easier time searching for that ideal rag, just use an old cotton T-shirt. However, it has to be clean and soft for excellent absorption. It also needs to be big enough to prevent staining your hand with gasoline.

  • Pour gasoline onto the rag.

    To ensure that your hand will stay clean, fold the rag into multiple layers. Also, you have to pour the liquid slowly. Do not use too much gasoline because you might damage your vehicle’s surface.

  • Rub gasoline all over the adhesive.

    Make circular motions as you rub the adhesive. Do it as if you are washing your car. This step should only last for a few minutes.

  • Wash off gasoline residue.

    Do not let gasoline evaporate on your car’s surface. It may damage the paint job or finishing through corrosion. The best way to wash off gasoline is by using warm soapy water. Use two clean rags in this step: one for washing and the other for drying.

  • Wash your hands.

    Afterwards, thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water to avoid burning your skin due to gasoline. Or, you may also use gloves during the entire process. However, do not use latex gloves since they react badly with gasoline.

How to Remove Adhesive Using Heat

Removing adhesive through heat is the safest method for it does not require any chemicals. The best tool to directly provide heat without any moisture is the hairdryer. The following are ways on how to remove adhesive from cars by using heat:

  • Wash the sticky area.

    Using intense air from the hairdryer can cause abrasion if the affected area has grime and dirt. The air may forcefully remove small particles, leading to scratches. So, you need to wash the area with soapy water before anything else.

  • Blow hot air onto the sticky area.

    Heat easily loosens adhesive for easier removal. With a hairdryer, hot air is easily centered above the area. It will only take a few minutes for this particular process to end.

  • Scrape off excess adhesive.

    If there are still residues, scrape them off with a plastic card. This should be easy now since the adhesive is too loose already, thanks to the hairdryer’s hot air.

  • Apply tree sap remover as the last resort.

    Adhesive and tree sap are very similar with one another. Both are sticky and tricky to remove from cars. The tree sap remover is already our last resort if the adhesive fails to completely loosen up from the heat. It is super-safe to use so you do not have to worry about damages on your car’s surface. Just make sure to follow the product’s instructions.

How to Remove Adhesive from Cars

In summary, our tips on how to remove adhesive from cars revolve around simple household products. Dish soaps, fabric softeners, gasoline, and heat are enough to completely eliminate sticky residues after clumsily removing stickers.

For other cleaning tips, learn how to keep a black car clean!

About Kathleen Burgess

Kathleen started her career in journalism writing about cars during her Journalism degree at CUNY and even though she didn't like it at first, she quickly became an ace, writing news, reviews and comparisons like one of the best car writers out there. Today she writes content focusing on the latest trends in the car industry, looking at sales, policies and green alternatives. Learn more about GCB's Editorial Process.

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