What’s the Best Way to Remove Sticker Residue?

Real Simple answers your questions.

0411-0712white-shirt
Photo by Peter LaMastro
Q. How do I remove gummy sticker residue from clothing?
Whitney Cox
Huntsville, Alabama

A. Use a laundry solvent.

That “Superstar” sticker was cute. Now that it won’t come off your son’s shirt, it’s just a tacky nuisance. “Glue residue is plastic based, and scrubbing with ordinary soap and water won’t remove it,” says Chris Allsbrooks, a textile analyst at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. She recommends using Carbona Stain Devils No. 1 ($20, carbona.com), which is specifically made to remove adhesives from most washable fabrics (including cotton), even if the item has already been laundered. The first step is to scrape off as much of the sticker as you can, using a dull, straight edge, like a butter knife. Next, check the colorfastness of the garment by applying a small amount of the Carbona to an unnoticeable area of the shirt, such as an inside seam or under the arm. If the color doesn’t change, soak the spot for a few minutes in a dish of the solvent. Use the knife again to remove the last of the residue. If a stubborn spot remains, pour a little of the solution onto a cloth, dab the spot, then rinse with warm water. Now give yourself another sticker for a job well-done. ―Elinor Smith


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