5 Tips for Removing Spray Adhesives

spray can

Spray adhesives are durable and useful, particularly in crafting and sewing. However, because this kind of glue is an aerosolized spray, it has a nasty tendency to spread out and get on more than just your intended surface.

Fortunately, there are some easy tips for removing spray adhesive from various surfaces without damaging your hard work.

1. Alcohol

On laminate, plastic, some metal, and many other finishes, isopropyl alcohol is a fix all. Pour a little bit on a clean rag and rub it over the affected area. The adhesive will start to peel off immediately, and the evidence of the mess will be gone in no time.

However, this quick fix does not work for all surfaces. Isopropyl alcohol may damage the finish on wood or painted surfaces, so check the bottle first to be sure you don’t do more harm than good.

2. Clay

On smooth surfaces, particularly metal, a clay bar, such as the ones used in car detailing, can pick off the adhesive residue safely and without damaging your finish. Just run the clay bar over the area as your would if you were polishing the surface, and the adhesive will be picked up without any abrasion.

3. Nail Polish Remover

On extra stubborn glue stains, try a little nail polish remover. It’s made from the same chemicals as paint thinner, but it isn’t as strong or damaging. Plus, it’s likely you already have it in your home.

Apply it to a clean rag and wipe down the area. Let it sit and soften for a moment, and then wipe it off. The adhesive will come too.

Like isopropyl alcohol, you have to be aware of what sort of surface you are using it on. It will take the paint off walls and damage the finish on your car, so be sure to only use it on raw or unfinished surfaces.

4. Scraping

When all else fails, claw the heck out of stuck on glue spots. If the surface that's been marred with spray glue is sturdy enough to avoid scratching, use a razor to scrape the adhesive away. If you are concerned about the finish beneath the spray adhesive, use a less damaging plastic scraper. If you’re lucky, this time-tested method will do the trick for you.

5. Meet Your Maker

Most manufacturers of adhesives also make specific products designed to neutralize their adhesives. Check the fine print on the back of your spray can or go to the manufacturer’s website. It is likely that there is a removal product custom made for your problem.

Determining what sort of surface you need to remove the spray adhesive from is the most important step in figuring out how to remove the adhesive.

TIP: To avoid messy adhesive problems in the future, use painter's tape around the area you will be spraying. It will prevent messes and make clean up a breeze.

Tips for Removing Spray Adhesives FAQ

How do you remove spray adhesive without damaging paint?

When spray adhesive leaves a residue behind on a painted surface, you don't want to be too aggressive about removing the adhesive. You cannot sand it off without damaging the paint, which will turn into a much bigger DIY project.

Try rubbing vegetable oil directly on the residue using circular motions and let it sit for an hour. Take a clean, damp cloth and slowly remove the oil and residue with small, circular motions.

Is vinegar an adhesive remover?

Plain white vinegar can be used as a cleaning agent of all kinds and can be used to remove sticky glue residue as well. Soak a clean cloth in white vinegar and place it directly on the adhesive, letting it soak for about five minutes.

Remove the cloth and use a rubber scraper to gently scrape away the residue. Clean the area with more vinegar on a clean cloth, wiping with circular motions.

What's the best adhesive remover?

Household products, like oil and vinegar, can be used to remove sticky glue residue. However, there are a number of different products on the market that are specially formulated to work as glue removers.

Some companies that make various types of glue and adhesive products, including 3M and Elmer's, make their own glue removal formulas. Goo Gone is another well-known name in the adhesive-removing business.

How do you remove strong adhesive from surfaces?

Some adhesives dry very hard, which makes them difficult to remove. If you have a strong adhesive stuck to a surface, soak a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide and hold it directly onto one area of the glue for several moments, then wipe the glue away in a circular motion.

Repeat this as many times as needed to remove the strong adhesive.

What removes adhesive from material?

Adhesive residue can be removed from fabric using white vinegar. Warm it up a little in the microwave first and then dip a sponge into the liquid.

Pat the sponge all over the adhesive for several moments, allowing the vinegar to penetrate the glue. Take a spatula or rubber scraper and gently scrape the adhesive off the cloth.

Rinse the spot with cool water and wash the garment as normal.