The longer tape holds your kids' artwork up on the refrigerator, the harder it will be to remove the tape residue once you're ready to swap old art out for something new.
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Nearly every type of household adhesive, including painter's tape, leaves behind a residue if left in place long enough. When removing tape from stainless steel appliances, a gunk-busting product such as Goo Gone or rubbing alcohol often does the trick.
When Tape is Intact
In some cases, pulling stickers or tape off of the appliance quickly helps cut down on the amount of residue left on the stainless steel. Pick at one corner of the tape until you can get a good grip on it, then yank it off as fast as possible. This is also a handy way to remove stickers from the fridge after a toddler decides to decorate the kitchen while you're in another room.
If some bits of tape and gooey residue remain, rub the area with a dry dishcloth or shop cloth. This should help remove some of the remaining mess without scratching the stainless steel. Then, pick at the tape and residue with your fingernail to remove as much as you can afterwards. Rubbing the area with soapy water on a clean cloth also helps remove the tacky tape residue.
The Rubbing Alcohol Method
Blot the tape residue or sticky areas with rubbing alcohol, which should be applied with a cotton pad or folded paper towel. Apply enough alcohol to wet the problem area as much as possible, which will help the liquid remove the remaining adhesive. Rub the spot with a damp rag or dishcloth after a minute or so to remove the gunk. This process may take several tries to remove every bit of adhesive.
Cooking oil or a water-displacing liquid, such as WD-40, also helps make adhesive residue less tacky and easier to remove, all without harming the appliance. Spray or squirt the product on any remaining residue, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a dry paper towel. Clean the area with a little soapy water afterwards.
Goof Off on Stainless Steel
Products specifically designed to remove gooey, sticky messes from solid surfaces do a great job of removing tape residue from stainless steel. Any gunk-removing product from the Goof Off and Goo Gone product lines will remove tape or sticker residue. To use Goo Gone or Goof Off on stainless steel, spray or squirt the product onto the affected portion of the appliance.
Wipe up any drips that travel towards plastic or rubber gaskets or parts of the appliance, as the cleaning product may damage or discolor these surfaces. Wait several minutes, as directed on the product label, then wipe the mess away with a clean cloth or paper towel. Touch the treated area afterwards to determine if it is still tacky. If so, apply the product again, then wipe it away. Wipe the area again with a damp cloth.
Goo Gone is safe for true stainless steel, but may discolor faux stainless steel finishes. If unsure whether the appliance is really stainless steel or if it has a plastic coating designed to look like steel, test the cleanup product in an inconspicuous area and let it sit for several minutes, wiping it away afterwards. Goo-removing products are not meant for porous or absorbent materials at may eat away at some types of sealants and coatings.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.