How to Remove Car Bumper Stickers and Decals

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By |2020-01-30T18:53:07-05:00January 30, 2020 - 02:00PM|Maintenance|
bumper sticker

Photo Credit: CZmarlin / Wikimedia

Quick Steps for Safely Removing Car Bumper Stickers

  1. Use heat: a hair dryer or heat gun
  2. Use Goo Gone or another adhesive remover
  3. Use white vinegar: an environmentally friendly option
  4. Use boiling water: another environmentally friendly option
  5. Use a plastic putty knife or an old credit card for stickers on paint
  6. Use a razor blade or nail polish remover on windows, not on paint
  7. Avoid the problem in the first place: Use a bumper magnet, apply sticker to a window (not a painted surface), or apply wax to the paint before putting the sticker on

Read more details below.

Need to Remove a Bumper Sticker? Here’s How

Perhaps your honor student has gone on to college. Maybe your favorite political candidate is now out of office. Perhaps you just don’t think that one band is so cool anymore. Or maybe you need to sell your car.

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Whatever the case, you’ve decided it’s time to remove a bumper sticker from your car.

Stickers are made to hold up over the long haul, through all kinds of weather, so taking them off isn’t meant to be a simple task. But it doesn’t have to be an all-day project, either.

Here are a few ways to get your bumper looking like it did on the day you bought your car.

1. Use heat: a hair dryer or heat gun

hair dryer isolated on white

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Perhaps the most common way to get rid of stubborn bumper stickers is to first warm up the area. Grab a hairdryer. (If you have a heat gun, that’s even better, but be careful not to damage your paint job.) The extra heat will make the sticker more pliable, and easier to remove.

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First, run a damp cloth over the area to remove any surface dirt and grime. Get the hair dryer, find its hottest setting, turn it on and hover it a few inches over the bumper sticker.

Start warming at the center of the sticker, and work your way to the edges. Doing the edges last will ensure the glue is still warm in the center when you begin peeling it.

2. Use Goo Gone or another adhesive remover

Spray from a spray bottle

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Adhesive removers such as Goo Gone are ideal for the tedious task of removing a bumper sticker and its adhesive, especially old or particularly stubborn ones. Goo Gone makes an automotive spray gel specifically formulated for the task, and it also can remove gum, bird droppings, tree sap, spray paint, brake dust and asphalt.

Liberally apply Goo Gone to the bumper sticker and the area immediately surrounding it. Wait a few minutes. The longer you let it sit, the easier it should be to remove the sticker. Once the sticker is gone, clean the area with soap and water.

Don’t have Goo Gone? Chances are you have some WD-40 somewhere in your garage. It’s not just for fixing squeaky doors. Peel back an edge of the bumper sticker with your fingernail. Once you can grab the corner, spray the WD-40 at the sticker while continuing to lift its edges. Once the sticker is off, wipe down the area with soap and water.

3. Use white vinegar: an environmentally friendly option

White Vinegar

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Reach into your pantry for some white vinegar, use a paintbrush or paper towel to douse the entire bumper sticker, and then wait a few minutes. The sticker should be easier to remove with the knife or plastic card.

You can purchase a bottle of vinegar for less than a dollar. That’s much cheaper than buying a solvent such as Goo Gone or WD-40, and more environmentally favorable as well.

4. Use boiling water: another environmentally friendly option

Kettle boiling on a gas stove. Boiling green kettle boiling with steam emitted from spout. Shallow depth of field. Solar glare from the kitchen window

Photo Credit: Dmytro Diedov / Getty

Boiling water is another cheap and environmentally friendly option. Boil water, pour it over the sticker and use the credit card or plastic scraper to lift it away from your car’s surface. You may have to repeat the process several times, but that still should be easier – and cheaper – than buying Goo Gone or WD-40, or finding an extension cord so you can take your hair dryer outside.

5. Use a plastic putty knife or an old credit card for stickers on paint

Ice scraper plastic putty knife

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To peel a sticker off of a painted surface like your bumper, take an old credit card or plastic scraper and place it under the edge to start peeling the sticker and adhesive away. (Make sure it’s not a current credit card, as the process could damage the card so much you can no longer use it.) This should get the job done without damaging your car’s paint. Continue until the entire sticker is removed. It’s common for the sticker to rip during this process, but that’s OK – you’re trying to get rid of it. Just keep working.

After the sticker is off, dampen an old rag with Goo Gone or another adhesive remover and give the area a final cleaning to remove any remaining adhesive.

6. Use a razor blade or nail polish remover on windows, not on paint

Classic Back Window

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A razor blade can come in quite handy for removing unwanted decals from windows, never use one to remove a sticker on your car’s paint. Doing so can gouge and chip your vehicle’s finish. That’s a lot more expensive to fix.

Ditto nail polish remover. It can be effective for removing stickers on glass, but various chemicals found in most formulas, such as acetone, can harm or remove your car’s paint.

7. Avoid the problem in the first place

Hand applying Polish on a Car, Car Valet

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The next time you want to bling your bumper, there are a few steps you can take beforehand to make the removal process even easier:

  • Avoid the bumper altogether and put the sticker on a window instead. Getting a sticker off glass is a much easier process, and you won’t have to worry about damaging your vehicle’s paint.
  • Peel the backing off your bumper sticker and affix it to a bumper magnet. Place the magnet on a metallic part of the rear of your car, such as the back of the trunk lid. When you no longer want the sticker, just take off the magnet.
  • Apply a layer of car wax to the surface where you plan to put your sticker. That often makes removal a simpler chore.

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