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How to Get Duct Tape Residue off Clothes

In a pinch, duct tape can be used to hold the fabric together or repair damaged clothing as a temporary fix until you can properly repair it. However, the problem with duct tape is that it can leave behind a residue on clothing. The sticky residue can be difficult to remove. But don’t worry, it can be done. Here’s my guide to how to get duct tape residue off of clothes.

Duct tape residue usually doesn’t come off with just water, which is why the residue is still there after you wash the clothing. The reason is that duct tape leaves behind an oil-based stain, not a water-based one. That means you will need an oil-based solvent to remove it.

But what are some examples of oil-based solvents that you can use? And how do you use those solvents to remove the duct tape residue? In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know for removing duct tape residue from your clothes.

How to Get Duct Tape Residue off Clothes

Can You Remove Duct Tape Residue From Clothes?

If you’ve ever tried to remove any kind of tape residue from clothes, then you know how tough it can be. And with the strength and adhesiveness of duct tape, it may seem almost impossible. This is especially true since you can quickly lose your patience with trying to scrape the residue off.

But if you haven’t had any luck removing duct tape residue from clothes before, it’s probably because you’ve been using the wrong methods. As long as you use the right methods and do so as soon as possible, then you should have no problem getting duct tape residue off of your clothes.

And the good news is that it doesn’t matter if the clothes are made of natural or synthetic fabrics. Since duct tape leaves behind an oil-based stain, both types of fabrics absorb it in pretty much the same way.

There may be a difference in how much residue remains on the clothes between natural or synthetic fabrics. But the bottom line is that these methods will be effective regardless of whether the fabric is natural or synthetic.

Will Duct Tape Residue Come Off in the Wash?

If you’ve ever tried to wash clothing with duct tape residue on it, you probably didn’t get the results you wanted. It is very unlikely for the adhesive to come off completely in the wash. But it makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

Water is ineffective at removing sticky tape residue because duct tape leaves behind an oil-based stain. As you know, water and oil don’t mix. That means that you will need an oil-based chemical to remove it.

But if you want to remove duct tape residue, it is best to do so before you wash the clothing. If you wash it first with the hopes that the stain will come out, the stain could become set in, making it harder to remove.

It’s important that you take the proper steps to remove it as soon as you remove duct tape from clothes and notice a residue. The sooner you act then, the easier it will be to remove. And now, without further ado, I’ll share the most effective methods for how to remove that stubborn duct tape residue.

How to Get Duct Tape Residue off Clothes

When it comes to finding the proper solvent to remove duct tape residue, you can try several different things. Most of these are things that you already have at home and they have proven to be effective at removing oil-based stains and sticky residue.

Although the do-it-yourself methods are very effective, there are also products you can buy at the store specifically formulated for removing sticky residue. So if there is a lot of residue and none of the household products work, you can always try a store-bought one and have good results.

Here is a list of the different products you can try and why they work. All of these methods can be used on many different surfaces and are safe to use on fabric.

1. Rubbing Alcohol

Dealmed Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 70% USP, First Aid Antiseptic, 16 fl. oz, (2 Pack)Rubbing alcohol is a cheap but effective way to remove sticky residue. And if you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can use a product such as a hand sanitizer or even vodka with alcohol as its main ingredient.

The reason that rubbing alcohol is effective is that although it does contain water, it is made up of 70% ethanol mixed with methanol. Ethanol and methanol are both oil-based and can dissolve the glue used in adhesive stickers and tape. So if it is used properly, it should be capable of completely dissolving the sticky residue.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar is another cheap and effective method for removing sticky residue and other stains from clothing. Like rubbing alcohol, vinegar also contains ethanol in the form of acetic acid. This acid is powerful enough to remove tough stains like duct tape residue.

3. Hairspray

Hairspray is one of the most commonly used products for removing oil-based food stains. But it can also remove sticky residue as well. This is because hairspray contains alcohol as well as other oil-based chemicals like propane. You may have to let the hairspray sit for a little longer than the other methods, but it is still very effective.

4. Adhesive Removers

Goo Gone Adhesive Remover - 8 Ounce - Surface Safe Adhesive Remover Safely Removes Stickers Labels Decals Residue Tape Chewing Gum Grease TarIf you aren’t confident about the effectiveness of any of the household products above, or you already have this on hand, then an adhesive remover is one of the best methods for removing sticky residue. Products like Goo Gone adhesive remover are safe to use on fabrics and can remove sticky residue no matter the source of it.

Goo Gone and other adhesive removers contain powerful chemicals like petroleum-based kerosene that are very effective at breaking down the glue used in adhesives. The downside to using these adhesive removers is that although they have been proven to be safe, they contain many chemicals. If you prefer more natural cleaning methods, then you may opt for one of the other methods listed.

Steps for Removing Sticky Residue

Now that you are aware of all the options available, it’s time to learn how to use your chosen product. It doesn’t matter which product you’ve chosen because the steps are the same regardless of what you chose. Here are the things you’ll need:

  • Your chosen product
  • Towel
  • Clean, white cloth
  • Dull knife
  • Old toothbrush
  • Stain remover
  • Detergent

It’s also important to note that before using any chemical product on fabric (even vinegar), you should test it in an inconspicuous location to make sure that it doesn’t remove the color.

  1. Place a clean towel on a flat surface such as a countertop or the top of your washing machine or dryer. Lay the clothing flat on top of the towel.
  2. If the product is a spray product like hairspray or some form of adhesive remover, then you can just spray it directly onto the stain.
  3. If your chosen product is liquid such as alcohol or vinegar, pour a little into a bowl and dip a corner of the white cloth into it.
  4. Regardless of if the product is a spray or a liquid, use the rag to work it into the stained area of the fabric.
  5. Let the product sit for 5 to 10 minutes to give it time to work. With hairspray, it’s best to let it sit for about 20 minutes.
  6. Use a dull knife to try to scrape the sticky residue off of the clothing. Or, you can use an old toothbrush to scrub it off gently.
  7. Depending on the size of the stained area, you may need to repeat the steps above to get all of the residue off.
  8. If you think you’ve removed all of the stickiness, apply a pre-wash stain remover just in case the product you use leaves behind a stain.
  9. Wash the clothing using your regular laundry detergent, but check to make sure any stain is completely gone before putting it in the dryer.
  10. If the stain remains, repeat the steps above using either the same product or a different product. Once the stain is completely gone, you can put the clothing in the dryer.

Can You Remove Duct Tape Residue From Clothes After Washing/Drying?

If you’ve already washed your clothing with duct tape on them, there’s a chance you might still be able to remove it. However, it will probably be a little more difficult if the stain has set in. If the stain has set in, it is most likely due to the clothing being dried in the dryer rather than washed in the washing machine.

If you’ve washed the clothing, even if you haven’t tried one of the products above, you should still be able to remove it as long as you don’t put it in the dryer first. Treat the stain alcohol, vinegar, hairspray, or adhesive remover by following the steps above.

But if you did dry the clothing in the dryer before removing the stain, then using an adhesive remover like Goo Gone is probably your best option. Adhesive removers will likely work better for removing set-in duct tape residue because they are made with a special formula of stronger chemicals.


I hope this guide helped you to be successful in getting that stubborn duct tape residue off of your clothes. Remember that oil-based solvents work best and there are many household products that are very effective as long as you don’t wash and dry the clothing first. Adhesive removers will also work very well. Share this article and leave a comment if you found this helpful. Thanks for reading!