How to Remove Stickers and Decals From Your Car
Updated on February 24 2024
Stickers are a cheap and cheerful way of adding a custom touch to any ride. We all had our fascinations with stickers and decals growing up, and you can find stickers on almost every car on the road. Sure, you don’t need a college degree to affix a sticker, but it takes a unique method to remove old decals from paint or glass without physically damaging or inducing scratches on the finish.
The thing is, you don’t need to pay a detailing shop or car wash to remove stickers from your car. You can do it from home like an expert, and you don’t need to use expensive cleaning products, either. Listed below are the steps on how to remove stickers and decals from auto paint and glass.
How to Remove Stickers From Your Car
- Hairdryer or hot air gun
- Microfiber towel
- Spray bottle filled with dish soap and water
- Isopropyl alcohol (optional)
- WD-40 (optional)
Step 1: Clean the vehicle.
It’s easier to remove a sticker if the surrounding panels are clean. Give your vehicle a quick car wash and wipe dry before proceeding. Remember to wash and dry your vehicle from the top down to help maintain a smooth, glossy, and scratch-free paint finish.
Step 2: Apply Heat
After washing and cleaning your car, it’s time to apply heat on the sticker or decal you want to remove. Grab a hairdryer or heat gun to heat the sticker.
- Point the heat gun at least six inches away from the surface to prevent “burning” the finish.
- Start by heating the middle portion of the sticker.
- Remember to move the heat gun up and down and left to right while heating. The trick is to keep moving and not dwell on a particular surface for too long.
- After heating the middle part of the sticker, move on to the sides to heat the adhesive underneath, reminding yourself to move the heat gun constantly.
Step 3: Peel carefully.
At this point, the sticker will be easier to peel. Use your fingernail to lift the edge of the sticker and pull it away quickly while the decal is still hot. If you don’t want to use your fingers, grab a plastic card or an old credit card and use it to scrape the sticker off the surface.
- If the sticker cools down or begins to stiffen, you can apply more heat to soften it up.
- Applying heat should make any sticker painless to remove without leaving traces of hard-to-remove, dried-out adhesives on the paint. But if you still see traces of left-over adhesives after removing the sticker, leave it alone. We’ll deal with that later.
- When peeling away an old sticker, pull it upwards and away from the surface instead of rolling the sticker.
Step 4: Clean the surface.
You can remove traces of left-over adhesive using WD-40, isopropyl alcohol, or a homemade cleaning solution of dish soap mixed with water.
- Grab a cloth, saturate it with one or two sprays of WD-40, and gently wipe using a back-and-forth motion to remove traces of left-over adhesive.
- Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol. Grab a cloth, saturate with rubbing alcohol, and rub gently.
- If you don’t have WD-40 or alcohol, grab a small spray bottle and fill it halfway with warm water and two to three drops of dish soap. Spray the cleaning solution liberally over the affected area and use a damp cloth to lift away all traces of adhesive.
Step 5: Apply polish or wax.
This last step is optional but highly recommended. In some cases, you might notice signs of “ghosting” on the paint after removing the sticker. And if not careful during the peeling process, you might find light scratches, too. Luckily, you can remove all of the above by polishing and waxing the paint.
But if you don’t have time to polish the entire vehicle, the least you can do is apply a light coat of wax on the affected area to replenish the gloss and sheen of the paint. If working on glass surfaces like the windows and windshield, give it a final wipe using a clean microfiber towel and an ammonia-free glass cleaner.
Older and baked-on stickers (like old conduction stickers) will be trickier to remove, but nothing is impossible with some heat and mild cleaning. Avoid using sharp objects like blades, cutters, or metal scrapers to remove old stickers off the paint. On the contrary, it is safe to use a plastic scraper to remove stickers from glass.