How to Remove Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive

Cheryl Torrie

Removing pressure-sensitive adhesive is similar to a science experiment that is largely based on trial and error in combination with knowledge gained from experience.

Choosing the most effective solvent is a science.

As of 2010, there are seven pressure sensitive adhesive types being manufactured that range from permanent acrylic, which is intended for indoor and outdoor permanent adhesion projects, through badge, which is intended for temporary sticker-type badge applications. With the correct solvent it is possible to remove pressure-sensitive adhesive without damaging the surface it is on.

Natural Oil-Based Adhesive Remover

  1. Pour a small amount of natural oil-based adhesive remover, such as one containing orange oil, on a clean cotton cloth.

  2. Rub the dampened cloth over the adhesive until it starts to ball up on the cloth.

  3. Press the edge of a small paint scraper against the remaining adhesive and use it to scrape it off of the surface.

Chemically-Based Solvent

  1. Pour a small amount of an acetone-containing solvent on a clean cotton cloth.

  2. Place the cloth over the pressure-sensitive adhesive and allow it to sit against it for five minutes.

  3. Rub the adhesive off of the surface with the acetone-dampened cloth.

  4. Tip

    Acetone is an active ingredient in most nail polish removers and a variety of other solvents that are readily available in most retail stores.


    Though the chemically-based solvents are great for removing pressure-sensitive adhesive residue from a sanding disk, they can dissolve a variety of surface finishes and materials, so be sure to read the manufacturer's tips and warnings before using it to remove the pressure-sensitive adhesive.