How to remove adhesive from plastic

by Jodie Franklin 12/17/2023

hand in pink rubber glove holding yellow spray bottle pointed right image text How to remove adhesive from plastic 5 DIY methods

Sticky labels are a fact of modern life, so it’s important to know how to remove adhesive from plastic. While label removal can be tricky on any material, plastic surfaces are often the most stubborn when it comes to the leftover adhesive residue.

Luckily, there are some DIY adhesive removers you might already have at home. Here are five ways to get rid of sticky glue residue:

Warm water & dish soap

The combination of warm water and dish soap works wonders for a wide variety of household messes, glue residue included. Fill a large bowl with warm or hot tap water and add liquid dishwashing soap. Submerging the object works best, but you can also apply the soapy solution with a sponge to break down the adhesive bonds.

Cooking oil

Cooking oil is another DIY adhesive remover you already have in your kitchen. Canola oil, olive oil, avocado oil or any other oil you cook with are gentle solutions for removing sticky residue. Simply apply a dab of oil to a paper towel or cotton ball and apply it to the affected area. In about ten minutes, you should be able to remove glue residue quickly and easily.


Vinegar is a superstar substance for home cleaning remedies, and it also works well to remove sticker residue. While vinegar will dissolve the sticky stuff, it’s harmless to most plastics. However, avoid using vinegar to remove adhesive from rubber surfaces, as the acidity can cause damage.

Nail polish remover

The active ingredient in nail polish remover is acetone, a powerful chemical that can break down even the toughest acrylic paints and lacquers. While nail polish remover can be too harsh for some plastics, tougher grades like polypropylene are strong enough to withstand the acetone. Check for a number 5 recycling symbol to make sure your plastic is acetone safe.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a standard disinfectant found in most household first aid kits. However, its cleaning properties also dissolve sticker residue within minutes. Soak a piece of paper towel or cotton ball in isopropyl alcohol and place it on the sticky patch. In about five minutes, you should be able to wipe away the remains of any glue residue.

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If none of these methods work on your sticky residue situation, you can always try a store bought adhesive removal solution. Check your local hardware or craft store to find the best option for your cleaning project.

About the Author

Jodie Franklin

I love helping people find their dream home or sell their house in order to achieve their next goals. I have been working hard for my clients for over 18 years throughout southeast Michigan. I have experienced every kind of transaction there is. 

Helping my community and being involved is extremely important to me. I am Past President of the Michigan Ability Partners board, which helps Veterans and people with disabilities reach independent, self-supported, and satisfying lives. I have also been a member of the City of Milan Tax Review Board and Zoning Board, and involved in Milan Main Street. I have been a major sponsor of events for Michigan Ability Partners, Aid in Milan, Milan Main Street, and many more organizations that work to make our communities better. 

I was 2018 President of the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, Realtor of the year in 2016 for AAABOR and nominee for Michigan Realtor of the Year. I serve on many committees with the local board, state board and was a member of the Housing Opportunity Committee for the National Association of Realtors (2018-19). I am currently serving my second term as a Michigan Realtors Board of Directors. 

I have liked in Milan for over 20 years and enjoy living here with my husband Cliff, son Evan, and dog Rosie.