Duct foil tape is often used to seal HVAC gaps. While it works well, it can be difficult to remove and may leave some sticky residue behind. There are several ways to remove duct foil tape with household items.
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Peel the Tape
First, see how much of the tape will come off easily on its own. It may come off clean, or it may leave some sticky or dried glue residue behind depending on how long ago it was applied. The longer the foil tape has been in place, the more stubborn the residue may be. If there is glue left behind, try a cleaning method to remove it.
Try Soapy Water
Start with warm water. The heat of the water can soften and loosen the glue and make it come off more easily. Cover the affected area with a rag or sponge soaked with warm water. Let it sit for approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Once the glue is wet, use a microfiber cloth or a sponge to gently scrub it off.
If water alone does not work, you can add one or two drops of liquid dish soap or liquid hand soap. This can help loosen the glue even more. Then, wipe it clean with a paper towel or dry rag.
Spray Some WD-40
WD-40 has many surprising uses other than fixing squeaks, including tape removal. Apply some WD-40 to the glue. Since WD-40 is a lubricant, it can help the adhesive slide off the surface. Put on gloves before applying it and allow it to soak in for a minute or so. With gloved hands, wipe off the glue. You can also use a sponge or rag if needed. Wash off the WD-40 with soap and water. Vegetable oil can be used as an alternative, including olive oil, corn oil or canola oil.
Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol can dissolve the glue and can be an effective solution for tape removal. It will make the glue less sticky. Similarly, you can use nail polish remover. Both products should first be spot tested on the surface since they can cause damage.
Place a paper towel or cloth rag soaked with rubbing alcohol on the glue. Wipe away the residue. Clean the surface with soap and water to remove any remaining alcohol.
Try a Commercial Product
Goo Gone is a goo and adhesive remover. It is designed to remove glue, stickers, window decals and gum. Goof Off is another option. It is a household heavy-duty stain spray designed to remove tough stains, such as lipstick, from fabrics and plastic surfaces. Give these products a shot at tough glue stains.
Scrape It Off
Another cleaning method is scraping off the residual adhesive. A putty knife works best, but a metal or plastic butter knife can suffice. You can also use a razor blade to scrape but use caution not to damage the surface. The razor blade should be almost parallel to the tape residue. The glue should flake off a little at a time.
Try one or a combination of cleaning strategies to remove tape and glue residue from your HVAC unit. Some household products and a little muscle can go a long way.
Meg Scanlon earned a Masters from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing can be found on Hunker, Cuteness, Funny or Die, BarkPost, Taste of Home, LoveTV and ALittleBitFunny.com.