Stickers are a great way to show off your personality, opinions, or hobbies. Whether you’ve got a satirical “bumper sticker” slogan on your tail, your favorite sports team’s logo somewhere, or a whole collection of stickers you’ve been given along your travels, they’re pretty common to spot.
But stickers have a dark side — When you’re finally in the mood to remove them, perhaps because you’re selling your car or just want to clean up its exterior, they’re likely going to put up a fight.
Most people are probably familiar with the experience. You struggle to get a fingernail under the sticker, and when you finally do, you only pull up about half of it, leaving the other half along with some of the white underside and unpleasant residue.
It’s irritating, to say the least, but it doesn’t have to be like this. While we would recommend using magnets or vinyl stickers that don’t use a glue-like adhesive in the future, it’s the conventional stickers that we’ll be tackling today.
And with these few simple steps, they’ll be coming off your car without all of the headaches:
Windows vs. Paint
A big thing to keep in mind is where the sticker is. If it’s on one of your windows, it’s going to be a bit easier to remove. When using these techniques on windows, you don’t have to be worried about damaging the paint job. Of course, you still need to be careful when handling a razor blade, but we’ll get into that later.
If the sticker is on your paint, you’ll want to opt for some of the more natural options. Do not use nail polish remover on your paint, and be gentle using a heat gun as well. The whole point of successfully removing a sticker is to expose the paint job underneath, and damaging it might inspire you to just put another sticker on to cover up what you’ve done.
How To Remove Stickers
Whether you’re trying to remove one sticker or a handful, here are a few different ways to successfully remove the whole thing without leaving behind any residue or damages to your car. Some include materials that you probably have at home already, and some you might have to go to the store to pick up.
Depending on how long the sticker has been on your car, you might have to try a few of these. The longer the adhesive has been sitting on the exterior will alter how it will come off. Another thing to keep in mind is the environment you live in: If it’s cold, hot, humid, or dry, it will all change how the sticker comes on and off.
1. The Classic: Hot, Soapy Water
This one is the first you’ll want to try since you’ll have everything you need already, and it won’t be too harsh on your car. You want to work with hot water, so start by boiling a pot. Make sure to use gloves so that you don’t hurt your hands.
Mix in some dish soap and apply the hot water using a dishrag. Using a cup to pour the water directly on is also a good idea so that you really saturate the sticker in the mixture. If you’re working on top of the paint, use something like a library card to start pushing the sticker off. A razor blade will work on windows, but be careful not to scratch the glass.
Hot, soapy water is a great starting place because it’s cheap, easy, and environmentally friendly. If the sticker is still putting up a fight, then you can start to bring out the big guns.
2. Use a Heat Gun
Heat is going to make the sticker more pliable and easy to remove, which is why we started with hot water. But if that isn’t cutting it, using a heat gun, or blow dryer if that’s all you have, is a great follow-up.
Turn the heat gun to a medium setting or a blow dryer to its hottest mode, and begin to heat up the sticker starting at its center, moving out to the edges. This will heat up the glue and reduce its strength, allowing you to remove it easily.
Always keep the heat moving, don’t linger too long in one spot. Put the blow dryer a few inches away from the sticker and make sweeping motions over the sticker, checking it every 30 seconds or so to see if it’s coming off.
3. Degreaser to the Rescue
If you don’t want to spend time with hot water or running an extension cord out to your car, your favorite degreaser might do the trick. It isn’t just for rusty door hinges- The spray is great for getting things moving, which is exactly what we want the sticker to do.
Using a fingernail or razor blade, depending on where the sticker is, begin to pull up one of the edges to expose the adhesive. Spray some degreaser on to the underside and work it underneath the sticker. Once you can lift more of the edge, repeat this step through the entire sticker. The degreaser will reduce its stickiness and allow for fairly easy removal.
4. Nail Polish Remover — Only For Window Use
This technique is for windows only and should be reserved for difficult sticker situations. Nail polish remover typically has a harsh chemical called acetone which is great for eating away and removing things like nail polish, stickers, and, yes, your paint job.
But it won’t hurt your windows, which is why it can be a great tool for clearing off hard-to-remove stickers from your back windshield. Use a rag and dab the nail polish remover onto the sticker carefully, not letting any drip down.
Follow a similar procedure as the degreaser technique by lifting up a small edge and getting some nail polish remover underneath. Then, begin to work your way across the sticker.
If you’re working on a windshield or glass in general, this is an appropriate time to use a razor blade if you want to. They offer a much finer edge that can get under the sticker faster, but of course, run the risk of damaging the surface you’re working on.
They can pretty easily rip up the paint on your car, but you won’t damage the glass as easily. If you do happen to scratch your paint a bit, it isn’t the end of the world. Using a Scratch Repair product, you can easily make that little nick disappear.
5. Get the Professional Stuff
While all of the above options require materials you likely already have if you’re still struggling with your stickers, you can always resort to products made specifically to take them off. There are a few different brands, and they typically come in spray form.
Designed with the intention of removing stickers, sprays like this can also remove other stubborn spots like tree sap and bird droppings.
No matter what you need for your car, reaching out to professionals like Shine Armor can always make life a little easier.
Tips For Getting Stickers Off Cleanly
If you’ve ever found yourself pouring boiling hot water onto the rear bumper of your car, wondering what you could’ve done differently to avoid doing what you’re doing, don’t worry because you certainly aren’t alone. Stickers are a lot of fun, but the consequences can be very frustrating.
While the above techniques are great for getting them off, here are a few pointers for when you’re putting them on that will help save you some time.
Stick To the Windows
As we’ve mentioned, getting a sticker off the glass of a window is much easier than getting it off the paint of your car. You have more options when it comes to chemical products and tools, and you’re less likely to damage the surface underneath.
Keeping stickers on windows is a good plan for when you will eventually remove them, but it’s also important not to overcrowd any. Don’t block your view out of the rear windshield, especially as that can be dangerous while driving and, in fact, illegal in certain states, so make sure to do your research.
Stuck on You: A Better Decoration
We know stickers are fun, easy, and come in a wide variety of options for you to show off your feelings and interests. They’re also cheap, especially compared to decals, magnets, or vinyl decorations. But in the end, you’ll be very grateful for these options as they offer much more flexibility and ease of removal.
Don’t worry; you can still get magnets and decals in a wide variety as well, and you have the extra bonus of being able to regularly customize their organization as well. They certainly won’t fall off while driving, if that’s a concern, as long as they’re properly placed and cared for. While they are a little more expensive, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Your car is your pride and joy, and you want it to represent your style and personality. Just keep in mind any changes may be permanent or affect the resale value of your ride. That’s a truly sticky situation.