How to Take Off Stickers on Metal Surfaces

Stickers – printed paper, plastic or foil adhered to surfaces with glue – are used as labels or decoration on a wide array of items containing metal, including appliances, electronics and school lockers. Sticker glue is designed to create a semi-permanent-to-permanent bond to a surface. As a result, it often leaves behind greasy smudges or marks during removal or, with older stickers, a hard, solid material. Whether you're dealing with a newer or older sticker, to take it off a metal surface you must remove as much of the label portion as possible and then soften and dissolve the remainder so the glue loses its hold on the metal.

Step 1

Blot a paper sticker or sticker glue with a cloth soaked in vegetable oil or undiluted vinegar until the area is saturated. If you're dealing with a plastic or foil sticker, or a new paper sticker, run your fingernail, or the edge of a plastic or glass scraper held at a 45-degree angle, under one of its edges and carefully lift the sticker from the surface before applying the oil or vinegar. Wait approximately 30 minutes.

Step 2

Rub from the edge of the area with your oil- or vinegar-soaked cloth toward the center to lift away any remaining label and glue. If the rubbing doesn't remove the glue, try rolling the glue into balls with your fingertips.

Step 3

Wipe the oil or vinegar away from the surface with a fresh cloth if any part of the sticker label or glue remains. Soak a cloth with acetone-based nail polish remover, 70-percent solution rubbing alcohol or WD-40 and blot the area again. Wait five minutes and rub the area with the cloth.

Step 4

Remove remaining residues with a scraper – scraping with a plastic or glass scraper from the outer edge toward the center; scrubbing the area with a soapy, nonabrasive nylon scrubbing pad; and/or applying a commercial label/sticker or glue remover to the surface. If you use a label/sticker or glue remover, wait as directed on the product packaging and then rub, scrape or scrub the surface as needed.

Step 5

Wash the surface thoroughly with a warm soapy cloth when finished. Rinse with a damp cloth and then buff the area dry with another cloth.

Irene A. Blake

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.