From children’s stickers to adhesive decor, these can leave behind a gooey mess. No matter how hard you try, removing that unsightly sticker residue from your clothes can feel impossible.
If you’ve ever washed a shirt with a sticker on top, you already know the sticky flecks of glue it leaves. And if you don’t remove the residue, it’ll only attract dirt and lint all over it.
The good news is, with a little fabric care knowledge, you can remove the most stubborn sticker residue off your clothes without ruining them. Read on to learn how!
What Is the Sticky Stuff on Stickers?
Stickers use a sticky substance called an adhesive – a kind of paste or glue that makes them stick onto surfaces. They can be made from various materials, including natural rubber, acrylics, and synthetic polymers.
Adhesives work by creating a bond between the surface and the sticker. This bond is formed when the adhesive molecules interact with the molecules on the surface. The type of adhesive used will depend on the surface it is being applied to. For example, a sticker on a shirt will need a different adhesive than a sticker applied to a smooth surface like glass.
Unfortunately, the same substance used to keep our stickers affixed to clothes will harden over time. When fabric goes through a wash cycle with a sticker on, the paper part usually washes away, leaving only the adhesive residue behind. The glue spots attract lint and dirt, appearing as a stain on the garment. If it goes in the dryer, the sticky stuff solidifies, making it harder to remove.
What Gets Rid of Sticker Residue?
If you’re in a “sticky” situation, follow our guide to help you quickly eliminate the unwanted residue.
1. Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Acetone nail polishes contain potent solvents that dissolve adhesives. It breaks down the chemical bonds, making them easier to remove from the surface.
First, check that the glue is dry and lay your garment flat on a table. Next, dampen a cotton ball or clean cloth with a small amount of acetone nail polish remover.
Rub the stain with the acetone-soaked cloth, but don’t rub too hard to avoid damaging the fabric. You’ll start noticing the residue dissolving and transferring onto the material. Continue rubbing until the sticky stuff is entirely removed.
Acetone nail polish is generally safe for synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, and nylon. However, avoid using them on natural textiles like cotton or wool and delicate fabrics like silk or satin.
2. Soap and Water
Sometimes all you need is soap and water to eliminate that unwanted goo. Soapy water can create a lubricating effect by loosening it from the surface.
Pump several drops of soap or detergent into a container full of hot water. Then immerse the garment in the water to soak for about 20 to 30 minutes so the goo softens.
Scrap away the gunk using your fingers or a plastic scraper. Don’t use cold water, as it won’t remove sticker residue effectively.
Generally, soap and water are suitable for most fabric types, such as synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and spandex. It’ll also work with blended materials such as polyester cotton blends and even harder fabrics like denim. However, always check the care label and follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer.
3. Stain-Removing Solvent
Stain-removing solvents are products specifically made to remove adhesives. They’re formulated to dissolve a wide range of substances, including adhesive residues. Some products come with sprays or applicator tips, allowing you to remove the goo from the exact spot.
Start by scraping off as much of the gunk as possible using a dull edge, like a butter knife. All you’ll need to do is apply the solvent to the spot and let it sit for a few minutes. Many stain-removers have fast-acting ingredients that help to dissolve the chemical bond quickly. Then, use the knife or scraper to remove the remaining residue.
These products generally work on most fabric types, including cotton, nylon, and polyester. However, it may not be suitable for more delicate or natural fabrics such as wool or leather. That said, you can test the solvent on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric or a similar fabric to ensure it won’t cause damage.
Irons use heat to soften the hardened goo and slowly separate it from the fabric. Once it becomes pliable, it’s easier to get rid of.
Start by preheating the iron to the highest recommended temperature for your fabric type. Place a clean cloth over the area and gently press the iron onto the cloth. Move the iron in circular motions and periodically check to see if the residue is transferring. Once the residue is lifted, clean your cloth with warm soapy water.
An iron works on most common fabrics like cotton, linen, polyester, and wool. But double-check the care label, especially for more heat-sensitive fabric types.
5. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol has many applications, including removing pesky stickers! Simply dampen a cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol. Then gently rub the sticky area with the alcohol-soaked cloth until it dissolves.
Once it’s gone, rinse the garment to remove any remaining residue or alcohol. Like the other methods, rubbing alcohol works just about most synthetic and blended fabric types.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Sticker Glue Made Of?
Sticker glue is made up of a variety of materials, such as adhesives, solvents, additives, and plasticizers. Adhesive properties like acrylics and rubber are used for sticking the sticker to surfaces. Many stickers for clothes are tailored for fabrics using pressure-sensitive, acrylic-based, or hot-melt adhesives.
How Do You Remove Sticker Residue From Clothing With an Iron?
Iron uses a combination of heat and pressure to eliminate adhesive residue. The warmth helps to reactivate the stickiness, allowing the adhesive to be transactive to another surface, such as a paper towel or cloth. Place a clean cloth over the residue and gently press the heated iron for 30 seconds.
How Do You Get Sticker Residue Off Polyester Clothes?
You can get rid of sticker residue from polyester clothes through many adhesive removal methods. Start by peeling as much of the sticker as possible. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and dab it over the sticky substance. This will help loosen it and make it easier to remove.
Can Clorox Wipes Remove Sticker Residue?
No, Clorox wipes aren’t designed for removing sticker residue. Instead, they’re made for disinfecting surfaces. Instead, you’ll want to use more proven methods such as stain-removing solvent, rubbing alcohol, acetone nail polish, diluted vinegar, or warm soapy water with gentle scrubbing.
Will Sticker Residue Go Away on Its Own?
No, generally, sticker residue won’t go away on its own. They’re often stubborn to get rid of since they’re chemically bonded firmly to the surface and require proactive removal methods. When the bond is formed, adhesives will dry, which hardens the material, making it harder to get rid of.
We’ve all been there – a size sticker left on your new pants or a name sticker from a meeting.
Accidentally leaving it through the washer and dryer leaves a mess of sticky goo on your favorite clothing.
If you’ve struggled to remove sticker residue, you can follow these simple fabric-friendly methods to remove the gunk in no time.
And if you want new stickers so you can express your personal style, try The/Studio. We offer customer stickers made to order, allowing you to bring your artwork, logo, or vision to life.
Whether you want to personalize your items or sell custom stickers to the public, we’re here to help!