How to Clean off Tape Residue From Fabric

Tape residue usually leaves a pale, but unattractive mark on clothing. Left on the fabric, it will attract dirt and look even worse. You can usually be successful getting the residue off, if you are patient and use the right products on it before laundering. You may need to make several attempts, however, to see good results--it depends a lot on how thick the residue is (masking tape leaves very little residue for example; while duct tape often leaves more).

  1. Lay the fabric on a sturdy surface, such as a table. Use a plastic or rubber-tipped scraper to remove some of the adhesive, if possible. A credit card is often suitable if you don't have a plastic putty knife or similar scraping tool.

  2. Apply waterless hand sanitizer/cleaner to the remaining residue, as suggested by Good Housekeeping or WD-40, as suggested by Priceless-Home-Remedies.

  3. Wait a minute and then scrape more of the adhesive off. The hand sanitizer or WD-40 will have started to liquefy some of the adhesive so it is easier to remove.

  4. Rinse the fabric under running water, or with a damp sponge.

  5. Spot-treat the area with a stain stick or spray, and then wash the item in the washing machine, with regular detergent. Let the fabric air-dry and then check it again for any remaining residue. If you still see some tape residue, reapply the WD-40 or hand sanitizer and re-wash the item. Make certain all residue is gone before drying the fabric item in the dryer--to be safe, allow the fabric to air-dry and re-inspect for remaining residue.


  • Consult your dry-cleaner before trying this method on expensive, dry-clean only items.
  • Solvents such as WD-40 may fade items that aren't made with color-fast dyes.
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