How to Remove Stickers From Cars: A Thorough Step by Step Guide

Remember that time you thought it was such a good idea to put stickers of your College all over your car? You wanted to meet other alumni, and you still identified with your alma mater.

Or, maybe it’s your favorite basketball team you feel like representing?

The point is this: personalizing your car seems fun, especially if you’re representing something you have a passion for.

If anything, at least you can find it easily, even in a parking lot with so many cars that all look exactly the same. Or, you just want the whole world to know you support a cause — or a political party.

With time, though – and everything mother nature has in store to throw your way in the form of sun, rain, dust, hot and cold weather – those stickers become dingy-looking at best.

Also, we’re all human, so it’s only normal that our ideas and what we’re passionate about/stand for change over time as we grow. Over time, we may not feel comfortable with the views we were once all about expressing with our decals anymore.

Mechanic working in a shop on a car sticker removal job

If you’re in a different boat, then perhaps you bought a second-hand car that was already covered with stickers all over it when you got it? In that case, they may never have represented your views (or what you’re passionate about) in the first place.

Or maybe it’s finally time for you to sell your car, and you might not have realized before that decals can actually lower its resale value. To get a higher price, you definitely want to clear them off.

Whatever the reason may be, now your focus is on removing stickers from your car.

Easy, right? Well, not really. You’ve probably already tried to do this on your own if you’re reading this, and chances are it didn’t work out all that well.

Don’t worry about it though, that’s what we’re here for. In this article, we’re going to explain the most effective methods out there you can use to remove stickers from your car.

We’ll tell you why it’s difficult, and what it is exactly you need to do to make it easier. This includes the products that you’ll be using as well as all the steps you’ll need to follow from start to finish.

You’ll also learn how to approach specific parts of the car that you may have put stickers on, such as bumpers or glass.

Why is Removing Stickers from a Car Harder Than We Think?

Most stickers are made of a plastic material, called PVC, some form of adhesive and ink.

When the glue in the adhesive hardens, the molecules stick together. After a sticker has been in place on your car for long enough, removing all the residue needs some know-how and experience.

First off, it is important to realize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to removing stickers from cars – each and every situation is bound to be unique in one way, shape or form.

Depending on where the stickers are on your car, you will likely need a different approach and product to use than someone with stickers on a completely different area.

Don’t worry about all of this for now, though, as we’ll take a look at all the possible options and situations you might be faced with in the following sections below.

Everything You Need in One Place

There are multiple options for which products you can use to remove decals from your vehicle. These will depend mostly on where the sticker is located.

We list them all blow for easy reference:

  • Warm/boiling water.
  • A hairdryer.
  • A hard plastic card (e.g. credit card).
  • Clean rags.
  • Dish detergent.
  • Vinegar.
  • Window cleaner.
  • Razor or cutter (Note that these are only for use on glass — be extra careful not to scratch the surface.)
  • Rubbing alcohol.
  • Ice pack.
  • Nail polish remover (Again, only for use on glass).
  • Cooking oil or olive oil.
  • Specialized decal removal products.
  • Leather conditioner (if your car interior is made of leather).
  • Wax (for a finishing touch on the body of the car).

Optimal Solutions for Different Parts of the Car

In the following sections, we’ll go over what you need to do depending on which area in your car you’re trying to remove stickers from:

How to Remove Stickers From Car Bumpers

Removing bumper stickers is one of the most common feats (and regrets) car owners go through after a while.

The following steps should work on decals that are on the body of the car, without ruining the paint. And no, don’t bother trying to peel the sticker for now. Since you’ve probably already tried peeling your bumper stickers off, it’s time to get busy with other steps:

  • First, use a mixture of dish detergent and water to moisten the sticker. Washing the affected area will also remove any dust or dirt.
  • Next, use a hair dryer on full power (or use a heat gun) and direct the hot air in circles around the decal. This should cause the glue to soften. Do not overheat, or you might damage the paint job.
  • You can use a plastic card to get underneath the sticker and remove it. The decal might break, but that’s normal.
  • If heat didn’t do the trick, boil water and apply it directly to the decal. Let the hot water soak in for at least a minute, then try removing.
  • You can also use vinegar for the same purpose. Spray vinegar directly, or pour it on a cloth and let it soak the sticker. Leave for at least five minutes before attempting removal.
  • Using a window glass cleaner is another possibility. As with the vinegar, spray it on and let it soak in before removing the sticker with a plastic card.
  • You can also use sticker removal sprays. As the name implies, these are products specially designed to dissolve the glue and remove them.
  • Once you have removed it, clean any residue. You can use a glue removal product for this purpose.
  • As a final step, wash the affected part and apply wax for protection.
  • This is a good time for a car wash. Wash your entire car and seal with car polish.

Warning: never use a razor or cutter on the body of your car when trying to do any of this, or you’ll end up ruining the car’s paint!

How to Remove Stickers From Car Glass

Another popular location for stickers on cars is on the front windshield, rear screen or side windows. This makes them highly visible.

Keep the following tips in mind when trying to remove car window stickers:

  • One of the best products to use in this case is cooking oil. Spray or brush it on and leave it for one to two hours, and then remove the sticker.
  • You can use a razor or cutter to remove glue residue by scraping it. Just be extra careful not to scratch the glass.
  • Window cleaners also work well here. Spray it on and let it sit for a few minutes, then remove the decal.
  • Rubbing alcohol is a product that also works well on glass. Use it to soak the sticker before you attempt removal.
  • Ice is another method to try, since cold, as well as heat, works to weaken the glue. Rub an ice pack to cool over the decal for a few minutes, and then use a dull razor blade to remove sticky residue.
  • Nail polish remover. You can apply an acetone-based nail polish remover on the sticker and then remove it easily. This works to dissolve the glue in the same way it does nail polish. Be careful to never use acetone-based products on your vehicle’s paintwork, though, as they may damage it.
  • Sticker removal products are made especially for this purpose. Some can be used on both the body of the car and the glass parts. Be sure to check that the one you buy matches your requirements, though.
  • Once you have removed the sticker using any of the methods above, clean the affected area with a window cleaner.

How to Remove Stickers From Car Interiors

This can be tricky, depending on the material the sticker is placed on. Usually, the dashboard is made of plastic, rubber, or some other non-leather material.

Using the wrong product could ruin or discolor the part, so pay very close attention to that!

Keep the following tips in mind when trying to remove stickers from your car’s interior:

  • Use a mixture of dish detergent and warm water. Soak the sticker and wait for as long as it takes to soften it thoroughly. Then, remove it and wash the area. This is safe for leather interiors too.
  • You may have to repeat this a few times to get all the residue off.
  • You can use olive oil to help clean the surface completely. Just apply the olive oil on a clean rag and wipe it on.
  • If your vehicle’s interior is leather, you may choose to apply a leather conditioner as a finishing touch.

Can I Just Ask for Professional Help?

This is always an option if you don’t want to deal with having to remove car decals on your vehicle yourself.

Perhaps you don’t have the time to do so, or you don’t want to risk creating damage that’ll end up costing you way more money on repairs.

Whatever the case may be, many car service professionals will take care of sticker removal for you.

After you leave this task for a professional to take care of, you can then pick your car up crystal clean, with no trace of any stickers left.

However, if you have the time to do this on your own, and you can follow steps carefully without messing something up, then you should definitely consider doing it yourself at home. After all, a professional isn’t going to do this task for you for free!

Final Thoughts

Many of us go through a phase where we want to express ourselves by visually sharing our views, and what better way to do this than to post stickers on our cars that show the entire world what we’re proud of?

With time, though, they may lose their appeal. Our views might change, we might not feel as excited (or as comfortable) anymore about sharing our thoughts as publicly anymore, or maybe it’s just time to sell the vehicle.

Removing decals poses some challenges, but we’ve got you covered in this article, and there really shouldn’t be all that much that stands in your way of getting your normal car look and feel back again.

If you’ve made it this far, then you should be all set.

We’ve shared everything you need to know about removing stickers from your car, so just follow a list of steps and keep some very important tips in mind when doing this, and you should be all good to go!

From childhood go karting and motocross, to collecting and obsessing over scalextric, matchbox and radio controlled cars, I've always had an obsession with cars. Learning through manuals, books, trial and error, and more knowledgeable family members, I've also enjoyed tinkering with the mechanics and electronics of any vehicles I've owned. Now, over 3 decades later, I've started this site as a place for me to share my knowledge, to teach others how to care for and maintain their vehicles themselves, at home, so they can get the most of their vehicles and save a pretty penny compared to always seeking out professional help.

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