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How To Get Sticker Residue Off Clothes: 9 Easy Ways

I’ve managed to wash my favorite shirt with a sticker attached to it. The paper has gone, but I’m left with this circle of stickiness with bits of lint stuck to it. Now I have a dilemma. What can I do to fix it? How do I get sticker residue off clothes?

You can remove sticker residue from clothing with a stain remover and regular laundry detergent. Apply the remover to the affected area and wash the garment as normal. Leave the clothing to air dry. Using a dryer will set the stains into the fabric, making them more difficult to remove.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get sticker residue off clothes without leaving a trace. Banish your wash day sticker blues with these helpful hints and tips.

How To Get Sticker Residue Off Clothes

What Causes Sticker Residue on Clothes

If you’re like me, your life is probably full of stickers. From the ones you get when you’ve been to vote to those that act as your name badge at meetings. Stickers are used for all sorts of things.

Even your kids can get given stickers. Schools use them as rewards for excelling at reading, math, or even sports.

Then there are the collectible stickers for music bands or your favorite TV star. Or decorative stickers you can add to your clothes as a fun way to express your creativity.

With so many different reasons for having stickers, it’s no wonder some of them get forgotten and left on your apparel. All too many of them end up being washed along with the clothing. Especially if you’re washing another family member’s garment and didn’t know the sticker was there.

As the water reaches the sticker, the paper section dissolves, leaving the sticky residue behind. This remnant of your kid’s sporting prowess is now a magnet for all the fabric debris floating in the wash.

Bits of lint from other clothing in the washing machine can stick to the tacky patch creating a fuzzy dark blotch. While you might be able to remove some of the unwanted fluff with a lint brush, the residue stubbornly refuses to move.

The residual gloop’s determination to stay put is the adhesive used to hold the sticker in place. Sticker glue has to be strong. You don’t want the sticker falling off after a few seconds. Nor do you want it peeling off in the rain. That would be annoying.

Because of this, sticker adhesive is resistant to water and capable of sticking to just about anything. Fabric, wood, steel, you name it, sticker glue will stick to it, which is fantastic news for a sticker’s longevity, but not so great for our clothing.

It’s not so hot for your fingernails, either. If you’ve ever tried to pick the gloop off your garments with your fingers, you’ll know the sticky residue gets gummed up under your nails.

Worse, the frantic scratching can bend them backward, causing you pain. It can also damage the fibers in the clothes. Getting sticker residue off clothes can be an activity pent with frustration.

How to Get Sticker Residue off Clothes: 9 Easy Ways

Removing the remnants of stickers from your favorite hoodie doesn’t have to end in tears. You can use several options to rid yourself of the tacky blob. I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to some tried and tested methods.

As always, check your garment’s care label to ensure your preferred solution isn’t going to cause more damage to your clothes. Some techniques in this list are unsuitable for certain fibers. For instance, acetone products and acetate clothing should never come into contact with each other.

1. Laundry Detergent

all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Clear for Sensitive Skin, 2X Concentrated, 110 LoadsYou can use laundry detergent as a pre-wash stain remover. In order for this method to work, you’ll need liquid laundry detergent rather than powder. Rubber gloves are also recommended. As you’ll be using the laundry detergent neat, it can irritate your skin, particularly if you suffer from skin-related allergies like eczema.

You will need:

  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Butter knife
  • Washing machine
  • Rubber gloves

Step 1

Lay your garment flat with the sticker residue facing upwards. If there are any remnants left over from the paper part of the sticker, try to scrape them off with your butter knife. You can use your fingernails for this too. This should leave you with the adhesive.

Step 2

Put on your rubber gloves and pour the liquid laundry detergent onto the adhesive residue. Rub it into the stain with your fingers. Leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes. You can leave it longer if you wish. The aim is to get the laundry detergent to eat away at the glue.

Step 3

Wash your garment as you would normally. Once the wash cycle has been completed, check for signs of sticker goo. If any remain, repeat these steps. Don’t dry your clothing until you are happy all the residual adhesive has been removed.

Step 4

If you usually use a dryer, make sure the glue stain has been completely removed before putting your garment in there. Using a dryer while there are still specks of adhesive will help to set the stain permanently.

You can air-dry the article if you are concerned some residue remains. Or, for particularly stubborn adhesive, you can move on to use one of the other methods on this list.

2. Distilled White Vinegar

VinegarI’m not sure where we’d be if it wasn’t for our old friend vinegar. It can do so much more than flavor your fries. It eats grease, grime, and sticker adhesive.

As a kitchen cleaner and general stain remover, it’s completely natural with no nasty chemical odors. It truly is your all-natural household superhero.

You will need:

  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Clean cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Washing Machine
  • Your usual Laundry detergent

Step 1

Open the bottle of vinegar and put the lid to one side. Hold the clean rag as though you will wipe the dust away. Still holding the cloth, place it on the bottle to cover the opening. Tip the bottle upside down until the cloth has been covered with vinegar.

Step 2

Gently dab the vinegar-soaked cloth onto the adhesive sticker stain. The vinegar will transfer to the fabric of the garment. Keep doing this until the stain is covered in vinegar.

Step 3

Work in a circular motion with your toothbrush to rub the vinegar into the stain. This will help loosen the sticker debris. Keep scrubbing gently until all the sticker residue has gone.

Step 4

Add 2 drops of dish soap to the stained area and a drop of warm water. Continue to scrub with the toothbrush until you get suds. Doing this will rinse away the vinegar.

Step 5

Wash your garment as you would normally with your usual laundry detergent. Check all traces of the adhesive stain have gone before drying. Repeat these steps until you are happy with the result. Only use your dryer if you are satisfied; no sticker residue remains.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing AlcoholRubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is an incredibly effective stain remover. That annoying blob of sticker residue stands no chance against the cleaning power of alcohol. This method will work on stickers that have been left on a garment for too long and those that have been through the wash.

Be careful, though. Rubbing alcohol is a liquid, so make sure your garment can take getting wet. This one is best avoided if your garment is made out of suede.

You will need:

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent
  • Cotton wool balls or Q-Tips
  • Fingernails

Step 1

Depending on the size of the sticker residue you are trying to remove, you can either use a cotton wool ball or a Q-tip. Pour some of the rubbing alcohol into the lid of its bottle. Dip the Q-tip or cotton ball into the lid.

Step 2

Gently press the ball or Q-tip into the stained area. Using a circular motion, begin to work the rubbing alcohol into the remains of the sticker.

Step 3

Use your fingernails to lift off any paper remnants. Then, apply more rubbing alcohol to the area to remove the glue.

Step 4

When you have removed as much of the sticker debris as possible, wash your garment using your usual setting. You can use your normal detergent for this.

Step 5

Check for sticker residue as soon as the wash cycle has ended. If any traces remain, repeat these steps. Once you are satisfied that all the residue from the sticker has been removed, dry your garment.

4. Goo Gone

Goo Gone Adhesive Remover - 8 Ounce - Surface Safe Adhesive Remover Safely Removes Stickers Labels Decals Residue Tape Chewing Gum Grease TarGoo Gone is a commercially available adhesive and gloop remover. It works on various items, including crayons, stickers, glue, wax, grease, and masking tape. You can purchase it online or from your local big box store.

This product can be used on clothing, upholstery, glass, metal, and even ceramics. Goo Gone can’t be used on all types of fabrics. Don’t be tempted to use this product on leather, suede, or silk. Always carry out a spot check in an inconspicuous area of your garment before committing to a full treatment.

You will need:

  • Goo Gone
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent
  • Well ventilated area
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean cloth

Step 1

Read the directions for use on the back of the Goo Gone bottle. For clothing, you will need to take the garment off before treating it. The manufacturers also recommend a spot test before using the product.

Step 2

Take extra precautions when using Goo Gone. It is a chemical cleaner and can irritate your skin. When applying the product to your garment, even if it’s in a spray bottle, protect your hands and lower arms with your rubber gloves. Working in a well-ventilated area will also lessen the risk of breathing in the product.

Step 3

For best results, follow the instructions on the Goo Gone packaging and apply the product to the sticker residue. Then, blot the stain with a clean cloth. After treatment, wash the garment as you would normally using your usual detergent.

Step 4

When the wash cycle has concluded, check for signs of leftover residue. All of the adhesive should be gone. If there are any signs of residual sticky goo, repeat the process. Only dry your garment when you are happy all traces of sticker have been removed.

5. Nail Polish Remover

Nail Polish RemoverThere are two types of nail polish remover. Acetone-based for natural nails and a non-acetone version for false nails. The one we’re interested in here is the acetone-based option.

Be aware there are a couple of things to remember before using nail polish remover on your clothing. Firstly, acetone likes to eat some plastics, particularly acetate and modacrylics. Secondly, nail polish remover was designed to remove color.

With those two facts in mind, you don’t want to use an acetone-based product on acetate clothing. Nor do you want it anywhere near your acrylics. You’ll also want to make sure your garment is colorfast before using nail polish remover.

You will need:

  • Nail polish remover
  • An old clean towel
  • Clean cloth
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Roll your towel into a sausage shape. Turn your garment inside out and put the rolled-up towel inside it. Make sure the sticker residue is sitting on the towel.

Step 2

Put a couple of drops of nail polish remover on the inside of the garment, directly on the reverse of the stain. With your clean cloth, gently rub the area to work the nail polish remover into the sticker residue from behind.

Step 3

Turn the garment the right way out and check for sticker residue. If it has all gone, wash the garment as usual with your normal laundry detergent. For any remaining stubborn stains, repeat the process until all traces have disappeared.

6. Peanut Butter

Jif Creamy Peanut Butter, 16 Ounces (Pack of 3)This has got to be one of the stranger options for removing sticker residue from clothes. The thing is, there’s more to peanut butter than peanuts. This tasty snack also contains oils.

These oils have a hidden talent. Not only do they make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich taste amazing, but they also have the power to cut through adhesives. You can remove sticker residue, glue, chewing gum, and the leftover marks left by masking tape. Which I think is pretty cool!

You will need:

  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent
  • Butter knife or credit card

Step 1

Lay your garment on a flat surface, sticker residue facing up. Use your butter knife to spread the peanut butter all over the stain. Coat it completely until you have a thin layer of peanut butter all over the top of the residual sticker debris. You want smooth peanut butter for this. The crunchy sort will hamper the spreading. Leave it for about five minutes.

Step 2

With your butter knife, gently scrape off the peanut butter. You should find the sticker residue that comes away from the fabric of your clothing as you scrape. If you don’t have a butter knife to hand, you can also use a credit card.

Step 3

When you have removed as much of the sticker and peanut butter mix as you can wash your garment. You can use your usual washing machine setting and laundry detergent.

Step 4

When the wash cycle has finished, remove the garment from the washing machine. Check for signs of remaining residue from the sticker. If you can still see some, repeat the process. Otherwise, let your clothing air dry.

7. Use Your Iron

Usually, it’s best to avoid treating your garment with heat when dealing with stains. The reason is heat can set a stain on the fabric. Sticker residue is slightly different, though. It’s not a stain as such. It’s a patch of trash made from pieces of paper and glue.

Besides, we’re not going to be ironing the residual sticker remains. Or the garment. All we need is the iron’s warmth.

You will need:

  • An Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Butter knife or credit card
  • Clean cloth
  • Dish soap
  • A small bowl of warm water

Step 1

Turn your iron to its highest setting. Lay your garment on your ironing board, sticker residue facing upwards.

Step 2

When your iron has reached temperature, hold it over the sticker residue. Don’t touch either the garment fabric or the sticker debris with the iron. You don’t want to scorch or burn your clothing. Simply hover over the stain and allow the heat to warm the area.

Step 3

The warmth from the iron will melt the adhesive. Keep the iron above the area you are working on for no more than 3 minutes. Then with your butter knife or credit card, start to scrape the sticky mess off the fabric.

Step 4

Add 2 drops of dish soap to a bowl of warm water and stir it. Then, dip your clean cloth in the mixture until it is wet. Carefully rub the residue stain on your garment with the cloth. This should lift any stubborn debris that has been left behind. Rinse the area under running water. You can use cold or lukewarm water.

8. Masking Tape

Scotch Greener Masking Tape for Performance Painting, 1.41-Inch by 60.1-Yards, 1 RollMasking tape is great for pulling the paper debris from stickers away from the fabric. So is packing tape or duct tape. You can also use sticky tape to remove pet hair from clothing.

Paper, hair, and general debris from the sticker will adhere to the masking tape, enabling you to peel them away from your clothes. However, for particularly sticky adhesive residue, you might need to use this method in partnership with one of the others on this list.

You will need:

  • Masking tape or other one-sided sticky tapes
  • Stain remover
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent

Step 1

Tear off a strip of masking tape from the roll. It needs to be big enough to make a loop around your fingers, sticky side out. Keep your thumb out of the circle of tape.

Step 2

Place your garment on a flat surface with the sticker residue facing upwards. Blot the residue with the masking tape. Press firmly with your fingers and then lift the masking tape. Use a rolling method. Start with your index finger and then roll across the stain to your little finger. Repeat this until as much of the visible debris has been removed. Change the masking tape as soon as it becomes covered.

Step 3

Spray or dab some stain remover on the residual adhesive left on your garment. You can use vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or a commercial product like Goo Gone. Then wash your garment as you would normally using your usual detergent.

Step 4

When you are happy, all the sticker residue has been removed, dry your garment. As long as there are no more traces of adhesive, it’s safe to use your dryer if that’s how you normally dry your clothing. If traces remain, treat the stain with more stain remover and rewash the item.

9. WD40

WD 40A useful product usually found in garages and sheds, WD40 is a degreaser and oil remover. It can remove sticker adhesive and is safe to use on most fabrics. As always, carry out a spot test first to ensure your garment will not be damaged.

Speed is of the essence with this method, though. Leaving WD40 on your clothes for too long can result in stains arising from the WD40 itself.

You will need:

  • WD40
  • Baking soda
  • Cardboard
  • Butter knife
  • Washing machine
  • Your usual laundry detergent
  • Stain remover

Step 1

Put your garment on a flat surface with the sticker residue on the top. Place some cardboard inside the clothing, sitting directly underneath the sticky spot. The cardboard will stop any residue from being pushed through the garment to the back.

Step 2

Spray WD40 onto the sticker residue and leave it to soak for about 3 minutes. Next, pour some baking soda on top of the WD40 to soak up the liquid. Using your finger, press the baking soda into the WD40, so it soaks it all up.

Step 3

Scrape off the baking soda with your butter knife. You can also use an old credit card. Add some stain remover to the area and then wash your garment as you would normally. Increase the amount of laundry detergent to the recommended dose for heavy stains.

Step 4

When the washing cycle has finished, check the garment for signs of remaining sticker residue. They should be all gone so you can dry your item. If some residual marks are still present, add more stain remover and rewash the garment.

Avoid the Dryer

Dryers are incredibly useful appliances. Rain or shine, they can dry your clothes in half the time it would take on an outdoor clothesline. There are some situations where they are best avoided, though. Sticker residue on your clothes is one of them.

The heat from a dryer can help to set stains into the fabric permanently. The clothing is encased within a hot drum, which can act like an oven. With no way to escape, the heat around the clothing builds and the stain becomes deeply entrenched within the fibers of the material.

Although sticker residue isn’t a stain as such, the adhesive on the sticker can react badly to heat. Particularly prolonged heat from a dryer. The glue can melt and ooze deeper into the fabric. Thus creating a stain-like mark that will be difficult to remove.

It’s all too easy to miss the remaining traces of sticker after using one of the above treatments. If you are ever unsure that all the sticker adhesive has gone, avoid the dryer and air dry your garment.

How to Remove Sticker Residue From Polyester Clothing

Polyester clothing, and synthetic fabrics in general, need a little bit of forward planning for sticker removal. The first thing you need to do is be positive about what kind of synthetic fabric you are dealing with. Is it 100% polyester or a blend?

Many artificial fabrics like polyester can be damaged by chemical stain removers. Acetate and some acrylic fibers can dissolve if they come into contact with acetone. While acetone won’t harm polyester clothing, any acetate content in your garment will be ruined.

For this reason, it’s normally best to avoid chemicals when treating sticker residue on polyester clothing. The best solution is to freeze your garment, so the sticker residue becomes hard.

You will need:

  • Freezer
  • Plastic bag
  • Butter knife or an old credit card
  • Large bowl
  • Dish soap
  • Lukewarm water

Step 1

Put your garment in a plastic bag with the sticker residue facing outwards. Leave it in the freezer until the residue has frozen. Two to three hours should do the trick.

Step 2

Then using an old credit card, gently scrape away the frozen glue. When you have removed as much sticker debris as possible, soak your polyester garment in a mixture of dish soap and lukewarm water. A washing-up bowl or bucket can be used for this.

Step 3

Leave your garment to soak for about 30 minutes. Then wash it as you would normally. Check all signs of sticker residue have been removed before air drying your clothing. If you still see visible traces of adhesive, repeat the washing process.

How to Get Sticky Residue Off Clothes After Washing and Drying

While it is harder to remove sticky residue once clothes have been washed and dried, it isn’t impossible. You will need a bit of patience, though, as you may need to treat the stain more than once. Especially if the item was dried in a dryer.

The first thing you can try is distilled white vinegar. Only this time, heat the vinegar in your microwave.

You will need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Microwave
  • Small microwave-proof bowl
  • Sponge
  • Butter knife

Step 1

Put a bowl of distilled white vinegar in your microwave for about 45 seconds. Using a sponge, dab the heated vinegar onto the sticker residue. Keep adding the vinegar to the spot until it is soaked and the vinegar has seeped into the fabric.

Step 2

Repeat step 1 until the sticker adhesive rolls up and lift off the fabric. Then scrape it away with your butter knife.

You may find this method won’t work on particularly stubborn dried-on sticky residue. In which case, you’ll need to resort to commercial stain removers like Goo Gone. WD40 is also worth a try.

How to Get Washed Sticker off Shirt

To get a washed sticker off your shirt is relatively simple. The first thing to do is keep the shirt wet! Don’t be tempted to dry it!

Next, grab a butter knife or an old credit card. You need to scrape off as much of the soggy sticker as possible. All that paper debris needs to be well out of the way before you can treat your shirt.

Once you are left with your wet shirt and a patch of sticky adhesive, apply rubbing alcohol, distilled white vinegar, or Goo Gone. The product you use will depend on the fabric used in your shirt. Avoid chemical products if you’re not sure of the actual fiber content.

Finally, wash your garment as you would normally. Make sure all the stain from the sticker has been removed before drying it.

Conclusion

Although it can be annoying, removing sticker residue from clothing is straightforward. Using stain remover and your usual laundry detergent should do the trick.

For stubborn marks, enlist the help of some household products. Try distilled white vinegar, baking soda, or even WD40. Goo Gone is also effective at removing sticky stains.

Have you ever washed a garment with a sticker on it? What remedy did you use to remove the gloop? Let me know in the comments.