How to Get Off Contact Paper & Its Adhesive

Contact paper, sometimes referred to as shelf paper, can brighten a cabinet, shelf or drawer.

A blow dryer is very useful in removing contact paper.A blow dryer is very useful in removing contact paper.
It is a durable paper that is washable and has adhesive on the back to stick to a surface and not slip. Typically, it comes in a roll, often with a stylish pattern. The paper can be cut to fit the shelf or drawer. Removing old contact paper that has a strong adhesive requires a little work; however, it is not difficult.

Use a blow-dryer to remove contact paper. Plug the blow-dryer into an electrical outlet and turn it on. Hold the blow-dryer about 3 inches from the contact paper and slowly move it around the paper. The blow-dryer heats the adhesive on the back of the contact paper and makes it easier to lift. Pull at one corner to see whether you can lift the paper, applying more heat as necessary to any area.

Scrap away any contact paper that did not come off when using the blow-dryer. Use a scraper to do this. The paper may lift, leaving a heavy adhesive residue. According to, cola can be used to dissolve the adhesive. Apply cola liberally to the adhesive with a sponge. Let it sit several minutes. An alternative to cola is a product made to remove adhesive such as orange oil. Dip a clean sponge in orange oil and apply liberally to the surface area. Let it sit for 10 to 30 minutes. You may need to periodically test to see whether the adhesive is deteriorating.

Wipe the shelf thoroughly with a damp, clean cloth to remove any chemical residue when the contact paper and adhesive are removed.

Things You Will Need

  • Blow-dryer
  • Scraper
  • Cola or orange oil
  • Sponge
  • Cloths


  • A product such as Goo Gone may work better on surfaces that are rough or porous.
  • If you put down new contact paper, look for types that can be easily moved and repositioned, without the heavy adhesive backing.
  • Consider applying a seal coat to the shelf before painting or applying new contact paper. If the shelf material is rough or peeling, sealing it will ensure a good bond with paint or contact paper.


  • If you use a chemical adhesive remover, make sure that the area is well-ventilated. Also, read the product label and follow all safety instructions such as skin and eye protection guidelines.
  • If you use a flammable adhesive remover or deglosser, dispose of cleaning materials such as the sponge or paper towels according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

About the Author

Debbie McRill went from managing a Texas Department of Criminal Justice office to working for Compaq and Hewlett-Packard as a technical writer and project manager in 1997. Debbie has also owned her own businesses and understands both corporate and small business challenges. Her background includes Six Sigma training, and an Information Development career with journalism and creative writing as her passion.