How to Clean Sticky Residue from Vinyl


Peter asked: How do I clean a vinyl bench? This bench was stored in an enclosed porch with a cloth cover over it. When I took off the cover, there was a sticky substance all over the vinyl that won’t come off with soap and water. What will take it off? Thank you.

Vinyl is a popular material for many different types of products, but over time can tend to “ooze” an oily, sticky substance on the surface. Sometimes this sticky residue can be cleaned away with a simple cleaner and other times requires drying out the sticky substance first.

You Will Need:

  • Select a cleaner:
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Water
  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Paper towels or soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Stickiness:

  1. Some cleaners contain harsh chemicals. Protect your hands by wearing rubber or latex gloves.
  2. Begin by applying the cleaner either to the cloth or directly to the vinyl bench.
  3. Wipe the area thoroughly to remove the sticky residue.
  4. Scrub gently, if required, so that the finish does not become damaged.
  5. Clean away any remaining product with soap and water.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  7. Dry with a clean, soft towel and allow to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Vinyl can tolerate many cleaners, but if you are worried that the surface may become discolored (especially if the cleaning product contains bleach), test a small, hidden area first.
  • In some cases, it is helpful to make the oily residue “fresh” again by rubbing it with some WD-40.
  • Always ensure all cleaning products are thoroughly removed as the residue can create another sticky situation.


  1. Jon says:

    I have a varsity letter jacket that I sent to the cleaners in order to remove a stickiness from the sleeves. After $38 nothing was better. It is an old jacket but I want to keep it. How can I make the sleeves not sticky anymore?

  2. Craig says:

    I also have a an old letter jacket with vinyl sleeves that has a strange sticky, greasy residue. It seemed to have started when I cleaned the sleeves with a vinyl cleaner used for car seats. A few month later the tacky residue started. I cleaned it with 409 spray cleaner and it worked, but about two weeks later, the residue returned. I don’t have a clue what causes it.

  3. Lisa says:

    My letter jacket from 1984 had the same issue. I had it cleaned at the dry cleaners and thought it was good as new again. However, less than a year later, the sticky residue is back. I’m contemplating just removing the patches and ordering a jacket with leather sleeves as a replacement.

    My daughter is in high school now and I definitely will suggest that she get a jacket with leather sleeves if given the option.

  4. Poppy says:

    To remove tacky/sticky coating that forms on vinyl after time, use “Marine Spray Nine” available at boating supply stores, i.e. West Marine.
    Spray it on and wipe firmly with a rough cotton towel. Rinse with plain water. Repeat to get the places you missed. The STICKY is GONE!!!! This works; the other suggestions don’t…I know, I tried them ALL!

  5. Tia C says:

    My dad was ordering my younger brothers letterman recently, and feeling nostalgic, decided to get his old one out. He had the same problem. We found that alternating cleaning it with hot water/dish soap and white vinegar worked the best after about three cycles (six washes total), but still left a minor sticky residue that could be taken care of by rubbing a small amount of baby oil in with a sponge. Best part was that there no discoloration, which we were worried about since the sleeves were white and we didn’t want to accidentaly stain them.

  6. Bugler says:

    The answer to this problem is simple and probably sitting in your pantry shelf. Baking Soda. It will remove the sticky film immediately with little to no scrubbing efforts. Dilute the baking soda with water, apply with a paper towel and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Voila! I had a vinyl-coated massage table that was stored and incredibly yucky and sticky. Stickiness and residue is gone, and you are left with a nice smooth clean surface. The why and how of it’s magic I do not know. I will say that after initially cleaning with a mild grease-dissolving dish liquid that left no difference in the surface, I was dismayed and tried vinegar, to no avail. I then tried simple baking soda and could not believe the difference. It works!

  7. Dragonfly says:

    Baking soda! I tried everything to remove the sticky residue from the little console in my car, and from the handle on a wine bottle opener. Nothing worked… even Goo Gone failed. But baking soda with water worked like a charm. Hope it helps you!

  8. Amelia says:

    Yes, baking soda did work! Good ol’ baking soda; been around forever and does so many good things!

  9. Halsey says:

    We made a paste with baking soda and water and it worked great to remove the stickiness and whiten the vinyl.

  10. Weslea says:

    Can any of y’all tell me the dilution or solution for the baking soda/water mixture?

  11. Lindsey says:

    Baking soda/water did the job. Tried many other solutions that didn’t work. Now my console is not sticky anymore.

  12. H says:

    How much baking soda to how much water… I have four vinyl chairs that are unbelievably sticky!!

  13. Patty says:

    Can u please tell me how much baking soda to water do u mix for it to work on sticky vinyl? Thank you; much appreciated for the answer. Pat

  14. Beth says:

    I too want to salvage my grown daughter’s “leather” vinyl high school jacket; I think it’s from 20 years ago. It’s so terribly greasy. How much baking soda to water do I use please?

  15. Ephraim says:

    Baking soda worked for me as well. Just mix in a little bit of water – just enough to make a paste. I found I had to leave it on the vinyl for a while before it worked well. I applied the paste and scrubbed it with a scrub brush and then left it to dry on the vinyl for a full day. After that, I rinsed it off with water. The vinyl was clean and there is no more sticky residue. It looks and feels new again.

  16. Domonique says:

    My 20th-year class reunion is 5 days away! You all have saved me a ton of time and money. I really wanted to wear my jacket… now I can! Yay!

  17. Mark says:

    We tried all sorts of stuff – I have a winner. Go to the auto parts store and buy CRC Brakleen – sprayed it onto a paper towel and lightly scrubbed. Gone!

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