How to Remove Stickers From Walls

Placing stickers on the wall may seem like good idea to a child, but not so much to the person responsible for removing the stickers later. Quickly tearing the stickers off may damage wallpaper or painted walls, or it may leave behind strips of sticker and residue that look even worse. Removing stickers and the adhesive entirely may require several methods; work with gentle, dry methods first before moving on to liquid-based solutions.

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Pick, Pick, Pick

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Picking at a sticker may remove it -- or at least a good portion of it -- from the wall without requiring any solvents. Start at one corner and pick at the sticker with your fingernail, working your way toward the center. Once the sticker becomes difficult to lift, start at another corner, continually working your way around the sticker. If it is difficult to remove, gently scrape it with the edge of a putty knife or a butter knife. The picking-and-scraping method also removes some of the gooey adhesive residue sometimes left behind after the paper or vinyl has been removed.

Heat Treatment

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Sometimes picking at the sticker isn't enough to remove it entirely: Bits of paper or adhesive remnants stubbornly stay behind no matter how hard you work at removing them. Warm what's left on the wall with a hair dryer set to low or medium heat, held 4 or 5 inches from the sticker. Once the adhesive softens, it makes the sticker bits and residue easier to remove. Roll the gooey remains away with your fingers, rubbing from the outside edges of the sticker toward the center to roll the residue onto itself. For more stubborn areas, use a plastic putty knife to scrape the soft adhesive away.

Wet, Then Wipe

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Vinegar helps dissolve the remnants of paper-based stickers and stubborn adhesive residue. Fold a paper towel and pour a small amount of white vinegar on it, holding it over the sticker area for a minute or so. Lift the towel and pick or scrape the residue; if it is still stubborn, apply the vinegar again. Vinegar is best for non-porous surfaces such as glazed tile and sealed paneling and some washable paints; test it on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't damage your wall covering.

Residue Remover

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If you've done your best to remove the sticker without moisture, but it still won't come off the wall entirely, a citrus-based adhesive remover finishes the job. Apply a small amount of the citrus product to the tip of a cotton swab and rub it over the sticker remains, keeping the liquid limited to the sticker area as much as possible. After a few minutes, wipe away the residue with a dry paper towel or pick at it with your fingers; then wipe it up. Apply a slightly damp paper towel to the area afterwards to remove the citrus product. Test the citrus substance in an inconspicuous area first, as it may leave behind a greasy residue on porous wall finishes.