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How to Clean Tape Residue From Tile

Kathy Adams

Remove tape residue with a damp paper towel, citrus solvent or a hair dryer; any of these may soften the adhesive. Scrape the residue away with a plastic tool.

Tape residue creates a sticky, unsightly mess on tile. The sticky adhesive attracts dust and dirt, making the problem area even more obvious. Use several methods to remove the residue, starting with the gentlest methods first, such as soapy water or rubbing alcohol.

Tape Residue Removal Tips

The type of tile plays a big part in which removal method works best. When scraping the residue away, use only materials that won't scratch the tile, such as nylon scrub pads or a plastic putty knife.

  • Wet the adhesive residue with a damp paper towel, holding or leaving it in place for several minutes. Rub your fingers over the residue afterwards to see if the adhesive softened. If so, continue rubbing your fingers over the substance. Some types of tape adhesive come up easily this way, while some may require a little scraping with a plastic putty knife or scraper. If the residue is not quite soft enough yet, use hot tap water on a paper towel. 
  • Mix baking soda with just enough water to create a paste. Apply the paste over porous tile such as marble, ceramic and stone tiles that have not been sealed. Scrub the residue away with a nylon-bristled brush or old toothbrush. Wipe the baking soda residue away with a damp paper towel afterwards. 
  • Heat hardened tape residue with a hair dryer set to a medium heat setting -- just hot enough to soften the adhesive. Hold the hair dryer 10 inches or so from the spot, moving the dryer slightly. Test the spot by scraping it with a plastic scraper or putty knife. Apply more heat if the adhesive isn't soft enough yet.
  • For stubborn adhesive residue left by materials such as double-stick carpet tapes, apply a citrus solvent designed to remove stickers. Do not use the citrus product on porous stone tiles unless the tile is sealed. If you're unsure, place a drop of water on the tile. If the water beads up, it is sealed. If it soaks in and leaves a wet spot, the tile is not sealed. Scrape the residue away with a nylon scrub pad or plastic scraper.
  • Clean the area with rubbing alcohol or vinegar afterwards to remove the last bits of residue. 


Do not use vinegar on natural stone tiles.