Removing stickers from wood

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Removing stickers from wood
Removing stickers from wood

Product labels stuck to wood should be relatively easy to remove. If your child has had a blast with dinosaur stickers, you may have to put in some effort. Don't get frustrated if your first attempts fail. The best approach differs per sticker, and it is not easy to estimate in advance which method will work.


Method 1 of 3: Using heat

Get Stickers off Wood Step 1

Step 1. Heat the sticker

Use a hair dryer or a heat gun on the lowest setting. Heat the entire sticker for a few seconds, then point the hair dryer or heat gun at a corner. Continue to heat the decal as you move on to the next step.

Keep the hair dryer 5 centimeters away from the wood and the heat gun at least 7 to 8 centimeters away. Do not heat the decal for more than 10 to 15 seconds. Too much heat can damage the finish of the wood or leave a stain on the decal

Step 2. Push the sticker up with a smooth and flat object

A plastic bank card or scraper is safest for the wood. If the wood isn't valuable and antique, you'll probably be fine using a putty knife, palette knife, or thin, non-serrated butter knife. Scrape the edge of the sticker to gently push it up at the corner you are heating. If that doesn't work, try something else but keep the tool handy.

  • Use your fingernail if it is a valuable or antique wooden object.
  • Cut a square piece of plastic from the center of a plastic lid if your blades are too thick to get under the sticker.

Step 3. Peel off the sticker with tweezers while heating it

When you have loosened an edge, grab it with tweezers or thin-tipped pliers. Bend the edge 180 degrees and gradually pull the sticker off the wood. In the case of wood that is easily damaged, peel off the sticker transversely against the wood grain so that no fibers come loose. Hold the blow dryer at an angle as you do this to soften the glue as it peels. Do not try to tear the sticker off in one go, as this may cause the paper backing to stick to the wood. The back is a lot harder to remove.

Continue with one of the methods below to remove the adhesive residue

Method 2 of 3: Using solvents

Step 1. Remove stickers with white vinegar

Soak a paper towel or cloth with white vinegar. Place the paper or cloth on the sticker and let it sit for five minutes. Gently pull the sticker off the wood with your fingernail or tweezers.

Step 2. Use a damp cloth for product labels

You can usually dissolve product labels on furniture and toys with a damp cloth. However, you may not wet stickers that you remove from a sheet and push it somewhere. In fact, these pressure-sensitive stickers can adhere more firmly to the surface when exposed to water.

Do not soak the wood, or the wood grain may swell and cause damage

Step 3. Use a store-bought adhesive or sticker remover

If a cloth does not work, try a product such as 3M Sticker remover, HG sticker remover or De Parel sticker remover, or a cleaner that contains citrus oil. Use just enough to wet the sticker. If it is a plastic or foil sticker, leave it on for a few minutes, or try pulling the edge up and also apply a drop of the product under the sticker. When the sticker is wet and soft, try pulling or scraping it off as described above.

Read the package directions first to make sure the product is safe to use on wood

Step 4. Try petroleum jelly or an inhalation vapor ointment

It can take up to eight hours for these agents to soak into the decal and soften the adhesive, so this method is only worth doing if you don't have to go to the store to do it. When the sticker is soft, scrape the sticker and the glue off the wood. Put a few drops of pure, concentrated dishwashing liquid on the remaining sticker residue. Rub the detergent into the residue to make a paste and wipe it all off with a paper towel.

Step 5. Wet the sticker with oil

You can also use vegetable oil (such as eucalyptus oil) or a mild mineral oil such as WD-40 or baby oil. Put a few drops on the sticker, let it soak in for a few hours and then try to scrape the sticker off the wood. The effect is not always the same with vegetable and mineral oils, so it may be a good idea to try both types.

This method allows unfinished wood to turn a darker color. This is not harmful to most woods and can even extend the life of the wood, but it may be a good idea to apply oil to the rest of the wood as well so that the wood is the same color throughout. Use a product that is specifically intended for it and not the oil you just used

Step 6. Be careful when applying strong solvents

Think of these chemicals as a last resort, as they can damage some types of paint, varnish and paint. Only use them in a well-ventilated area or outdoors, as the fumes are toxic and often quite flammable. Test the product of your choice on a corner of the wood first to make sure it is safe to use.

  • Lighter fluid is usually safe to use on paint and evaporates quickly from the wood. It can damage some types of paint and varnish.
  • Paint thinner is probably the best choice after that, but will damage many types of paint and varnish. Make sure to test the product on a corner first.
  • Acetone and acetone-based thinner will damage most types of paint and plastic-based finishes.
  • Rubbing alcohol is definitely a last resort as it can dissolve most types of lacquer and damage the wood underneath.

Method 3 of 3: Remove sticker residue

Step 1. Use an oil-based product such as lemon oil

It does not scratch the wood but does remove stubborn residues. It is best to use a product that is normally also used on wood, so that you do not have to remove the product with dishwashing liquid.

Step 2. Remove residue with Magic Tape

With the transparent adhesive tape of the brand Scotch, also called Magic Tape, you can remove sticker residues without leaving any residue. Place the tape on the adhesive and peel it off in one go. If this does not yield a clear result, continue to the next step.

You can use other types of tape and masking tape if the wood is not valuable. Do not use duct tape, as the tape itself can leave residue on the wood

Step 3. Wipe off the residue with the solvent you used

If you used a solvent to dissolve the adhesive, this should also work to remove the sticker residue. Dampen a cloth with some more of the same agent. Rub the residue with gentle circular motions for up to 10 minutes.

Do not do this if the solvent makes the wood feel rougher or discolored

Step 4. Scrub the wood with soapy water

You may be able to remove small amounts of residue with a mixture of mild dish soap and water. Put one or two drops of dish soap in a small cup of water. Wet a cloth or sponge with the mixture and scrub the wood with it.

Step 5. Sand the wood if nothing else works

If you are unable to remove the sticker or sticker residue, sand everything off. Go over it with 80 grit sandpaper until the decal and residue are gone. Grab a new piece of sandpaper when the old one gets dirty. Smooth the surface again with 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper.

When you have sanded the wood, apply lacquer or paint to it again. If you don't know what lacquer is on the wood, you may need to sand the entire surface and apply a new coat of lacquer to the entire piece of wood


  • If the wood has changed color from the heat or has dried out, rub wood oil into the wood to restore it.
  • A glossy, hard layer of wood lacquer is usually stronger than a matt lacquer layer. Matte lacquer on a valuable wooden object is a warning sign; solvents will almost certainly damage the paint.
  • Some types of sticker glue dry and can be easily removed if you freeze them. You can try this on small wooden items, but be aware that there is a chance that the wood will get damaged. Wet wood, in particular, can crack and weaken when you freeze it.

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