How to remove sticky labels

1965 Perfume Set

Image by Takkk

It’s happened to all of us: you find a diamond in the rough at your local thrift shop (like the stunning perfume set from 1965 pictured here), you bring it home excited to clean and display your new addition, but there’s one major obstacle standing in the way – the dreaded sticky label! Given the sensitive nature of some of these vintage wares, it can be a daunting task as modern cleaners are often too harsh. And let’s face it, even with new purchases it’s an amazing triumph to get them removed. In this edition of Tips and Tricks, we’re going to walk you through some easy and proven ways to bid these persistent foes farewell!

How to remove sticky labels

Keep in mind that with all our recommendations you must test a small sample area first before committing to the approach. Materials are unique and you want to make sure you preserve your investment!

If you have a non-painted glass or ceramic item (like our lovely perfume bottle), most experts cite Goo Gone as a great removal product. But another, less chemically-focused, approach is to begin by peeling away as much paper as you can. Next, further soften it by applying a small dab of creamy peanut butter on the affected area. Yep, you read it right – peanut butter! Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe the peanut butter and residue off with a clean cloth. After the sticker is removed you may clean the item normally, using luke-warm water.

peanut butter to the rescue

Image by Piccolo Namek

There are a couple crack prevention tricks we want to mention: place a towel down in the sink first so the glass has something soft to rest on and put a metal spoon in the item before filling it with water. The spoon will act as a conductor, taking the brunt of the temperature change.

For plastic items, start by dabbing with a warm towel and finish with the peanut butter application. After wiping the peanut butter off, clean your treasure with a mild soap and warm water mixture. The peanut butter trick also works well with metal collectibles.

How to remove a sticker with a hair dryer

Heat is the label’s number one enemy and the hair dryer technique works well on items that have painted surfaces, wooden treasures, and cloth. The biggest thing to remember with this approach is patience. Work slowly and pull slowly. This is most especially true when you are dealing with painted surfaces as you don’t want to remove the finish!

Vintage hair dryer

Image by Phrontis

To remove a sticker with a hair dryer, set your hair dryer to its warmest setting. Blow warm air in a concentrated area in 30 second intervals. Peel carefully and remove what you can between each cycle until the label is gone. Keep in mind for big stickers you may need to work in sections.

Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: “Tips, Tools and Techniques: To care for antiques, collectibles, and other treasures” by Georgia Kemp Caraway, One Good Thing by Jillee, One Parade, Apartment Therapy, Food Recap, and the people who post their images without restriction.

For our readers: Have you tried the peanut butter trick? If so, do you have any additional words of wisdom to share with the community?

Replies for “How to remove sticky labels

  • Peter M. Thornber

    What about books? – dust jackets and the card covers of paperbacks are extremely vulnerable as attempts to pick at the label can remove some of the cover itself and thereby ruin the book.

    Vendors have a responsibility to any buyer or potential buyer and to their heirs assignees and successors in title ~ as well as to their own predecessors in title, whether vendors for value or donors, ~ to ensure any price label does not by its presence or attempts at removal disfigure, damage, devalue or otherwise diminish the asset to which it is attached.

    • Betty Jo Post author

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, dust jackets and card covers seem to be easy targets for a rogue label. Our experts have recommended Goo Gone for paper products (but to, as always, test a small area first to make sure that no residue/grease or discoloring occurs).

      Cheers and may the vintage be with you!


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