How to Clean The Stuff Left By A Peeled Off Label

You’ve got the label off, but what to do about that thin, white residue left behind? You can always try scraping at it with your fingernail. When you get tired of that, try this.

You Will Need:

  • Removal product
    • Goo Gone
    • Vegetable oil
    • Peanut butter
    • WD-40
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Soap and water
  • Soft brush
  • Soft towels
  • Stain treatment

Steps to Remove the Rest of the Label:

  1. The type of product used to remove the label as well as the method will depend largely on the product you are removing the label from. Hard surfaces are easier to remove labels from than clothing and furniture. When selecting your product, take into consideration any side effects. (Do not spread peanut butter on your furniture because you’ll never get the grease out. But it’s great for clothing because you can work it into the glue and them machine wash any remaining residue.)
  2. Choose an oil-based product to remove the glue residue by helping it release from the surface with lubrication. Or an alcohol-based product to dry out the glue for easier removal.
  3. In some cases, it may take some trial and error to find the right product for your particular label situation.
  4. Apply the chosen product to the adhesive and work it in with a soft cloth or soft brush.
  5. Use a clean towel or cloth to remove any loosened label residue as it comes off.
  6. Once the label glue is removed, you will need to remove any residue from the cleaning product.
  7. If an oil-based product was used on cloth or clothing, treat the area with a grease-fighting stain remover. This will remove the oil and prevent spotting after the piece has dried. Machine or hand wash and air dry to ensure the stains are removed.
  8. For hard surfaces, clean the surface as normal to remove any residue.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If you are worried that the cleaning product may damage the surface, test a small, hidden area first.
  •  Many have found lighter fluid helpful in removing adhesive residue. However, using lighter fluid on any surface poses a safety hazard and should be avoided.
  • Always read the labels for any precautions before using flammable products to remove adhesive residue. Dispose of cloths and used towels appropriately.


  1. Instead of potentially harmless chemicals, I use vegetable/canola oil to clean the residue left when you peel the label off a jar or bottle, or when trying to soak a label off. Just put a little bit of oil (doesn’t have to be soaking wet) on a cotton ball, and rub the excess glue off the plastic bottle/jar, or container. Then wash with a little bit of soap to get rid of the oil. Don’t use on anything that the oil might stain, or that you couldn’t wash with water.

  2. Sometimes oil needs to soak for long periods to break down adhesives, and you need a scrubbing agent. Some surfaces (especially plastics) can be scratched by cleansers, brushes or scrubbing pads.

    Isopropyl alcohol will quickly soften or remove many label adhesives, but can damage some surfaces.

    PEANUT BUTTER to the rescue. It contains oil that breaks down most adhesives and is a gentle abrasive that rarely scratches anything when rubbed against it but provides the extra bite into label adhesives. Chunky bites even harder. Wash out with soap.

  3. Tried and tested.

  4. Coca Cola and fine steel wool, or very very fine wet sandpaper, the kind they use to buff cars to get the oxidation off.
    Works for me.

  5. Zippo fluid. It’s just as effective as Goo Gone for removing adhesives. Put a little on a cotton ball or paper towel, and rub. The Zippo fluid evaporates off after the adhesive’s gone. No need to clean it afterward. Plus, lighter fluid is also pretty good for cleaning CDs. If a CD skips, but doesn’t have any really deep gouges, pour a little Zippo fluid directly onto the play surface of the disc. Tilt it around so the lighter fluid covers the entire surface, and wait for it to evaporate. I’ve also used Goo Gone (NOT the gel kind!) to do the same thing, even with discs that looked so scratched they were practically unplayable.

  6. Heather says:

    Although this method doesn’t work for everything, for some stickers on glass, ceramic, and even wood, I found that just letting it soak for about five minutes in very cold water, or cold water with a little mild dish detergent will loosen the glue (hot water seems to bind the glue and make it more sticky). I then take a textured cloth or a dish washing brush and gently scrub it off. No residue left over, and no chemicals!

  7. An eraser works great. Simply use an eraser to ‘erase’ the residue adhesives. The eraser shavings will absorb all of the adhesives, and all you have to do is rinse it with water.

  8. Catherine says:

    I don’t agree with using harsh chemicals either, but in a pinch, acetone will work too.

  9. If this is residue from a price tag or self-adhesive label, simply putting a piece of tape over the spot and pulling it back off works really well. Duct tape is the best, but scotch tape works, too.

  10. Not to promote harsh chemicals or anything, but Goo Gone is the best thing I’ve ever seen for getting off stuck on labels. I think it’s made with citrus oil or something.

  11. I find that WD-40 does the trick. Apply it on a kitchen paper, then wash off with a soapy cloth.

  12. We make wine and re-use bottles from other places, so we don’t want their labels. I soak the bottles in soapy water for half an hour. Some of the labels just fall off on their own. The ones that really stick come off pretty easily with a plastic scraper. It seems to be strong enough to take off the residue, but it bends easily to take off a large portion of the label too.

  13. Annette says:

    You are right, Anne, that WD-40 is the right thing to use. I used a cotton ball and it came right off with no effort. Thanks!

  14. I want to thank you; I left the glasses for the last two months because I didn’t know how to get the glue off. The WD-40 worked great. Thank you ever so much!!

  15. Thanks Warkock! The WD-40 worked great!

  16. Fingernail polish remover also works. It leaves plastic a little cloudy though.

  17. Unmoglich (Moglich was already taken) says:

    I read previous posts, and recalled my own experience, including label pulling. The stuff sticks to itself better than anything else, and label pieces you pull off works better than most tape. I complimented my kitchen chem muses. They suggested peanut butter and cold, but whatever, do it with savor fare. I put the plastic vial in the freezer, took out some ice cubes and put two in a cup with some canola oil, water, and two kinds of liquid soap, because I thought the oil would then rinse off easier. I put 1/2 tsp. of the mixture on the vial, and not much happened until I scraped with a finger nail, then the back of the table knife I kept from the yard sale. Lo! I had tiny white chips floating in a liquid that left no residue of its own, but I had to rinse it off and spoon on more cold liquid to keep the process going. I would have tried cold peanut butter, but I ate it all up. Moral: There are no self-stick labels worth mentioning for freezer food, and self-adhesive labels truly stick to themselves better than anything else.

  18. I thought I had WD-40, but didn’t. However, I did have silicone spray. I tried that and it took it right off clean as a whistle. Thanks for all your comments.

  19. I decided to try peanut butter to get adhesive residue off of a plastic lid and it worked! Thanks for all the great suggestions.

  20. Bunnies and Sunshine says:

    I had removed a “My name is ____” sticker from my husband’s black Naugahyde portfolio using my fingernail and there was still that white adhesive residue. I used Felix’s advice about using a pencil eraser to “erase” the adhesive and just brushed the bits off with a paper napkin; it worked perfectly. It looks as good as new now. Just thought I’d add to the list. Good luck!

  21. M Garg says:

    I tried everything, but in the end it was W-D 40 which worked like magic to remove the label adhesive.

  22. Eucalyptus and tea tree oil also work.

  23. Peanut butter works great for getting sticky glue off any hard surface. Just cover the glue area with peanut butter, let is sit for 5-10 minutes and wipe it off – smooth as silk. I have used it many times and I have told hundreds of people about it. It works great on plastic containers when you buy a new one, peel off the label and some glue is still on the container. Peanut butter will take it right off!

  24. A drop of veggie oil worked perfectly! Thanks!

  25. Melissa says:

    Peanut butter sounds messy. So I put a drop of WD-40 on a cotton ball, rubbed it over the sticker residue on the back of my cell phone and it came right off. A dab of soapy water on a paper towel cleaned the WD-40 right off. Thank you everyone.

  26. I have a new cooktop with a black ceramic glass top; I removed the large label and all the glue was left. What can I safely use to clean the top?

  27. Vegetable oil worked great! Took a lot of scrubbing, but it got the job done. My girlfriend will be very happy when she wakes up. The mixing bowl was a present from my mother.

  28. Sometimes just using Scotch tape works! Take a strip of tape and place on the residue. Rub fingernail on tape to attach well to residue. Lift tape and repeat process. I’ve done this on plastic and glass containers, cookie cutters, etc. I usually try this technique before other chemical or messy options.

  29. Use paint thinner. It took off all the glue instantly.

  30. Maureen says:

    Thank you so much Anne. The WD-40 worked fantastic! You saved an hour for me going crazy using other tactics.

  31. WD-40 works great. Just a couple of drops on a cotton ball and applied to container; in just seconds, the glue comes off. Thanks for the tip everyone.

  32. I used Pam and it worked great!

  33. GooGone and a toothbrush (circular motions) for smooth plastic surfaces like printers.

    I buy used printers and the store puts these big rectangle stickers on them and they are a real pain to get the residue off unless you use the tip above, then it is simple as pie and the surface does not get scratched up. Awesome.

  34. Vegetable oil! I’ve been trying to get the residue off for two days. I tried vegetable oil; it was gone in 10 seconds.

  35. Lorraine says:

    I removed sticker residue from my washer with peanut butter. Tried goo gone…vegetable oil…nothing worked.
    The residue was 15 years old…gone in 20 minutes!
    Awesome result.

  36. These ideas work great for glass/metal, but I have two rugs I pulled labels from & now the bottoms are sticky! I tried washing them in hot water in the washing machine & this didn’t help! Any ideas on getting this off of cloth/rugs?

  37. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Tape Residue from Carpet.

  38. Start the corners of the label with a fingernail, then fill the bottle with hot, not boiling, water. Continue to peel and it comes right off.

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