We spend hundreds of dollars each year on tapes, glues, and cements, trying to get things to adhere to a particular surface. But what about when you want to remove that glob of glue or an ugly bumper sticker that is cracked and peeling?
Many removers are versatile and can clean a variety of surfaces, but they aren’t all created equal. Choosing the right product will save you time, money, and frustration. This is why we developed this review list and buyer’s guide, to help you choose a product that will work well the first time and can be a staple in your cleaning supplies.
Comparison Table (updated in 2021)
|Best Overall||3M 03618||
|Best Value||Duck Brand 527263||
|Premium Choice||RapidTac 30323||
|Goo Gone 2087||
The 10 Best Adhesive Removers
1. 3M 03618 Adhesive Remover — Best Overall
This adhesive remover is a blend of petroleum solvents that can help remove adhesives, tar, and wax from your vehicle’s painted surface while causing no damage to the paint. We found this worked especially well to remove unwanted bumper stickers, and we like that it can also be used on vinyl and glass.
The formula is ready to use, with no mixing required, and you can easily wipe it on and off. But it does have a strong citrus odor even when using outside. You may have to apply more than one layer to get old decals or stickers off that have weathered in the sun.
2. Duck Brand 527263 Adhesive Remover — Best Value
Duck Brand adhesive remover works on many types of surfaces, including walls, doors, furniture, cars, plastic, glass, and wood. It will effectively remove adhesive residue, tar, gum, tapes, and caulk, among other things.
It comes with a sponge applicator that allows you to be more precise when applying it to the troublesome area — we also like the included scraper tool. It has a strong citrus scent and is VOC compliant, though we still recommend using it in a well-ventilated area. On the downside, this will remove most adhesives but does take a little more elbow grease for tougher jobs.
This is a good product for the money but did not reach the number-one spot because it doesn’t remove certain adhesives as easily.
3. RapidTac 30323 Adhesive Remover — Premium Choice
If price isn’t a concern, the RapidTac is a natural, water-soluble adhesive remover that works within 60 seconds of application. It comes in a 32-ounce bottle that will last for a long time. It is formulated to work on residue left by decals and graphics.
It won’t cause damage to most painted or bare metal surfaces. We found that it works best to remove residue after the sticker or decal is removed — it can remove the sticker but requires extra effort and more than one application.
The 3M and Duck Brand work just as well at a more affordable price, which is why the RapidTac is number three on our list. We do appreciate that it doesn’t have as strong an odor as compared to others.
4. Goo Gone 2087 Adhesive Remover
It is safe to use on cars, but the company recommends that you test it on a small surface first. It works well to remove residue fast, though it does take repeated applications and the use of a scraper to get labels/stickers completely removed. It also leaves an oily residue that requires the use of soap to remove.
It doesn’t have an overpowering odor and is formulated to be non-staining.
5. Uni-Solve 402500 Adhesive Remover
Uni-solve is for the removal of adhesive residue from the skin. It will soften the adhesive from tapes, films, and appliances, allowing for easier removal with less risk of trauma. It is not to be used on open skin, since it contains alcohol and will cause irritation and a burning sensation.
The odor is not overpowering and dissipates fast. It does leave a slightly oily residue on the skin, but this wipes off easily with water. It is listed as environmentally friendly because it doesn’t contain ozone-depleting Chlor-fluorocarbons.
On the downside, it can be irritating to certain skin types, causing allergic reactions, so care should be taken.
6. Goof Off FG658 Professional Strength Remover
This adhesive remover is formulated to remove many types of adhesives, as well as crayons, pen, gum, and scuff marks. It is ideal for use on a variety of surfaces, such as wood, concrete, brick, metal, and grout. It is also listed to work on automotive surfaces.
The downside of this product is the odor — it is quite strong and doesn’t dissipate quickly. The container warns that this products contains ethylbenzene and methanol. It does remove scuffs and pine sap effectively and easily. If using on fabric, let the solution sit for a few minutes before you scrub with a small brush.
Since this remover is a harsh chemical, care needs to be taken when using on finished surfaces. Make sure you test an area first.
7. SENSI-CARE Adhesive Releaser
Sensi-Care is a medical adhesive remover that is made out of 100% silicone and rapidly releases appliances or dressings adhered to the skin. It is designed to minimize skin trauma when removing an adhesive dressing.
It is CHG compatible, which means it will not affect the effectiveness of a CHG-based product below a required level. It is also sting-free, which means there is no alcohol in the product that will cause burning sensations on open skin. This is a benefit when using on dressings near wounds or abraded skin.
Caution should be taken when used for the first time, however, as some people may have a sensitivity to the product or develop a reaction when used frequently over a period of time. Also, it is not as affordable as other removers, but it is odor-free, which is a big plus.
8. Motsenbocker’s Lift Off Adhesive Remover
This is a cost-effective adhesive remover, made in the U.S.A., that comes in a spray bottle. It is formulated to remove tape, gum, and other greasy and oily stains. It can be used on carpets, fabric, wood, metal, and glass. We like that it doesn’t leave a sticky residue and is a low-VOC formula, which makes it less odorous.
It is not supposed to damage surfaces when used as directed. Instructions indicate to spray and wait at least 60 seconds, and then use a scraper to lift the adhesive away. It works by breaking the bond between the adhesive and the surface, so it doesn’t turn the adhesive into a messy goo.
This product takes extra time to remove an adhesive, and the spray nozzle is poorly made.
9. HigherHuman Eco-Friendly Adhesive Remover
GoopAway is an all-natural adhesive remover made from plants — there is no petrochemical within this formula. It is made in the U.S.A., and the company stands by their product, offering a 100% lifetime guarantee.
It’s safe to use on many surfaces and can remove a variety of adhesives, such as glue, stickers, gum, wax, and tar. The price is affordable and there is no strong odor. When used on fabric, it should be washed after use to remove residual product. It cannot be applied to silk or suede.
Since it contains coconut oil, there is an oily residue after using, which will wash off with soap and water. This adhesive remover isn’t as effective at removing hardened adhesives that have been on a surface for a long time.
10. Elmer’s 171 Sticky Out Adhesive Remover
Elmer’s adhesive remover is a clear gel solution that removes residue such as crayon, glue, rubber cement, and other adhesives. It is safe to use on a variety of surfaces, even fabric. It doesn’t clean the residue from fabric as effectively as others on our list, however – it leaves most of the sticky residue in place even after repeated washing.
It is not safe to use on silk, rubber, elastic, suede, or other leathers. It will remove labels, but not without a great deal of elbow grease and repeated applications. It also leaves an oily residue that is difficult to remove even with soap and water.
Since there are many uses for adhesive remover and they can come in different formulations, it can be hard to know which one will do the trick at removing the label or tape residue that has been on a glass window for many years, for example. This buyer’s guide will go over considerations to keep in mind when searching for the best adhesive remover.
Some are designed for a specific purpose, while others are broader in function. Certain ones will add a degreasing agent to their formula to help remove grease or slime. Some will remove paint, ink, and crayon from surfaces, while others can even break down advanced glues, such as Gorilla Glue and Crazy Glue.
Ingredients are formulated to break down the atomic bonds present in the residue left on the surface. There are three categories of removers. The first is citrus-based, which uses fruit extract and propane and does well for commercial cleaning purposes. Next is the soy-based version — with ingredients of soybean and propane, this formula is stronger than the citrus based. Last is the solvent-based, which may contain xylene, ethylbenzene, and toluene. They work well to loosen the adhesive but aren’t the best at removing residue.
Some will have a strong odor, especially if they contain propane. It is best to use in a well-ventilated area. Personal protective equipment may be recommended, such as goggles, face masks, and gloves, since some formulas are caustic or drying and can cause harm.
Know if the surface you plan to apply the remover to could be damaged or not. Some work better on other surfaces than others and may be formulated for a particular surface but cause damage to another.
Read all materials from the manufacturer and follow the directions for product use.
Whether for your home, office, or automobile, choosing the right adhesive remover will make a difference in the outcome. Especially when using certain removers on the skin, you don’t want any untoward effects that could cause irritation or burning.
Our reviews list rounded up the top 10 adhesive removers available today. Our number-one choice is the 3M, since it works well to remove adhesives that have had constant sun exposure while on a vehicle. The best value is the Duck Brand, as it can tackle many adhesives using the included sponge and scraper. Our premium choice is the RapidTac, which is a water-soluble adhesive that works fast.
We hope that our review list has helped with decreasing the frustration that can come with trying to find the right product.
Pete has been working in the trades since high school, where he first developed a passion for woodworking. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest in a wide variety of DIY projects around the home. Fascinated by all sort of tools, Pete loves reading and writing about all the latest gadgets and accessories that hit the market. His other interests include astronomy, hiking, and fishing.
As the founder of House Grail, David’s primary goal is to help consumers make educated decisions about DIY projects at home, in the garage, and in the garden.
- 1 Comparison Table (updated in 2021)
- 2 The 10 Best Adhesive Removers
- 2.1 1. 3M 03618 Adhesive Remover — Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Duck Brand 527263 Adhesive Remover — Best Value
- 2.3 3. RapidTac 30323 Adhesive Remover — Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Goo Gone 2087 Adhesive Remover
- 2.5 5. Uni-Solve 402500 Adhesive Remover
- 2.6 6. Goof Off FG658 Professional Strength Remover
- 2.7 7. SENSI-CARE Adhesive Releaser
- 2.8 8. Motsenbocker’s Lift Off Adhesive Remover
- 2.9 9. HigherHuman Eco-Friendly Adhesive Remover
- 2.10 10. Elmer’s 171 Sticky Out Adhesive Remover
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Conclusion