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Cricut Window Cling vs. Removable Vinyl: Pros, Cons, & Differences

window with vinyl decals

Are you a big fan of decorating your windows with decals? Maybe you like to lighten up the house with funny stuff or create thematic decorations for festivals and holidays? We’re talking about Easter, the Fourth of July, and, of course, Christmas, to name a few. We’re right there with you, but before you get in sync with the inner artist and start decorating the house to your liking, there’s an important choice to be made here.

Should you go with good old removable vinyl, or maybe opt for Cricut window cling? Could this (relatively) new product be a better pick for the average sticker enthusiast? Or is removable vinyl still the king of the show? We’ve got lots of ground to cover, so, without further ado, let’s see what both options have to offer, discuss the pros, cons, and come up with a decision!

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A Friendly Reminder

Please keep in mind that no matter which product you choose, you’ll still have to use a machine to cut out the stickers. You start by creating a design on the computer (Cricut Design Space is a perfect tool for that, and it’s 100% free). Next, you print the decals out. To get rid of the negatives, use a weeding tool. It’s available for cheap and will make your cling and vinyl cutting routine a lot more enjoyable.

A seam ripper will also do. This isn’t a laborious job, but it does still require sleight of hands, and, more importantly, a positive attitude and willingness to work for at least a couple of hours. Alright, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, it’s time to see what window cling and removable vinyl all are about.

Cricut Window Cling Overview

If you’ve got kids and love to have a great time with the family, we bet you already know what a window cling is. Essentially, it’s a highly flexible and versatile material that’s easy to cut into different shapes. Holiday decals, funny decorations, and “fancy” logos—it can all be done with cling. It’s available at a very affordable price and takes zero effort to use: even the little ones can play around with it, which makes it an even better pick.

So, what sets it aside from removable vinyl? Well, window cling doesn’t have an adhesive side. It is 100% the same on both sides: the same color, consistency, and everything else. It’s relatively thick and has more of a rubbery, sleek feel to it compared to most vinyl products on the market. Plus, it has a glossy finish.

Cricut Decorative Window Cling

Does Cricut Window Cling Leave any Residue?

The short answer is no, it doesn’t leave any messy, stubborn residue. That’s right: you can forget about the annoying, messy adhesive that’s found on the back of removable vinyl. This is its most significant advantage over similar products and it’s also one of the biggest reasons behind its huge rise in popularity over recent years. Cricut window cling is extremely pliable and perfect for decals. And, thanks to the rubbery nature, it sticks to any glass or mirror in the house.

Removing it doesn’t require any extra force or knack, either: just peel it off—it won’t resist or, again, leave any residue behind. In many ways, Cling is the ideal choice for some temporary, holiday-themed designs that can be removed just as easily as they stick. If you’re working with multiple pieces (say, it’s a truck, and you cut the tires separately), and you placed one of the pieces in the wrong area, you can instantly peel it off and move it as many times as you want.

Can You Use Window Cling Outside?

Sadly, no, this material isn’t designed for outside use. You can, of course, use it on car windows (kids really like to put them on bus windows), and it will stick just fine. However, since it doesn’t have glue or any other type of adhesive on the back, it’s not recommended to use on outdoor surfaces. Weather elements like humidity/moisture, extreme heat, and even wind will make short work of it.

The main purpose of window cling is to be used indoors. We’re talking about glass, plastic, and metal. However, it doesn’t stick well to wood or any other rough surfaces.

Pros
  • Clings instantly on its own (no glue required)
  • Leaves absolutely no residue on the surface
  • Easily removable and reusable
  • Perfect for having fun with kids
Cons
  • Not very effective for outdoor use

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Removable Vinyl Overview

Alright, so, what does removable vinyl have to offer? What’s it all about? Well, it has a matte finish and is usually used for both indoor and outdoor signs and wall decals. You’ll see removable vinyl at grocery stores, banks, and airports—pretty much any place with big, strong glass. Thanks to its elastic and resilient nature, it’s just right for stuff like timesheets and schedules, as well as signs and pointers. Another common use for it is stickers for recently married couples.

Vinyl is thin and smooth to the touch. Just like window cling, it sticks to a long list of surfaces, including (obviously) glass, metal (like steel appliances in your kitchen), and plastic. Plus, it sticks to unfinished wood, which isn’t the case with cling. And one more thing: vinyl is perfect for print-then-cut designs (we’ll talk more about that further down this article).

Cricut Premium Vinyl - Removable

Does Removable Vinyl Leave Any Residue?

Yes, it does. Birthday parties, Christmas festivities, and any other celebration can be lots of fun with some removable vinyl here and here. However, when the holidays are over, you’re left with the tedious job of trying to get rid of the vinyl accurately so that you don’t leave any “sticky stuff” on the surface. Yes, pulling vinyl off is a challenge, as it doesn’t usually come off easily. It’s not as bad as permanent vinyl, but still, no matter how careful you are, best believe some residue will be left.

That’s exactly why removable vinyl is not a very good choice for temporary labels/decorations. You’ll have to apply lots of force to clean the adhesive from mirrors and you might accidentally scratch the glass. To avoid that, it’s recommended to use vinegar (mix a ¼ cup with 1 quart of warm water). Rubbing alcohol will also do. As an alternative, you could buy removable vinyl with repositionable adhesives. They will still leave some residue, but not nearly as much as standard vinyl.

Can You Use Removable Vinyl Outside?

You most definitely can. However, you’ll have to make sure that the vinyl is 100% waterproof and UV-resistant. That means it will be able to withstand heavy storms, pouring rain, and even extremely hot/cold temperatures. Yes, moisture and the sun are the biggest enemies of any adhesive. So, if you live somewhere in the South with sky-high humidity levels, or, say, in LA where scorching sun rays are just as normal as palm trees, the vinyl needs to be rough and tough.

Usually, these types of decals last outdoors for up to three years, which is quite impressive. Even if you buy a regular removable vinyl without any extra layers of protection, it will still be a significantly better choice than Cricut window cling. In contrast, the average lifespan of cling is six months. After that, it loses suction; plus, grease and dirt get between the surface and the sticker, making it fall off.

Pros
  • Easily handles temperature extremes
  • A great choice for outside decorations
  • Can be used for print-then-cut
  • Lasts for a long time
Cons
  • Leaves sticky, hard-to-remove residue

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Print-Then-Cut: Vinyl vs. Window Cling

As the name suggests, print-then-cut is a procedure where you first print something on the sticker using a standard printer and then cut it with a cutting machine (like Cricut). If you like to take your decals a step further and give them unique designs, this is how you do it. With this “feature”, you can get super creative and make gift tags, cards, invitations, and, of course, stickers. So, the big question is—what’s the best material for this?

Removable vinyl will, most certainly, work. All you must do is make sure it’s of the right size for the printer, position the design properly, and fire away. In contrast, Cricut’s window cling tends to be problematic. You’ll have a hard time “feeding” it to a printer. Furthermore, the ink won’t stick to it easily. The reason: cling is a slippery material. That’s what allows it to stick so easily, but it also makes it a bad choice for print-then-cut.

You could, of course, go for it, and some folks do make it work. However, that will involve a lot more hassle than with removable vinyl. One thing you could try is permanent markers. They dry on cling but don’t look that great.

Does Cricut Cling Cost More than Vinyl?

Just like removable vinyl, window cling is a highly affordable product. Even if you’re on a limited budget, but still want to decorate the house with stickers, both options will be a reasonable investment. The size of the roll will have the biggest impact on the price. Say, a standard Cricut window cling is one big (12” x 48”) roll. That should be more than enough for your Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

As for removable vinyl, it’s available in all shapes and sizes. And, again, it costs roughly the same as cling. However, if you opt for premium-quality vinyl (waterproof and UV-resistant), it will be more expensive than the regular stuff. On the bright side, it will last longer and stick better. So, only consider this option if you’re serious about outdoor decorations and it’s not just a temporal thing.

Which Product is Best for You?

This greatly depends on what kind of stickers you’re into. If indoor decals are the name of the game for you, then Cricut window cling will be the superior choice. It doesn’t leave any residue, plus takes zero effort to remove and to reuse. Sadly, it’s not designed for outdoor use. If that’s a mood killer for you, removable vinyl will swoop in to save the day. As mentioned, premium-quality vinyl can survive the great outdoors for as long as three years and withstand unforgiving weather.

On top of that, it’s a solid pick for sophisticated (and rewarding) print-then-cut projects. In theory, cling can also be printed upon, but it will probably not “sync” with the printer properly, not to mention the ink will have a hard time adhering to it. Removable vinyl is sticky and messy, though—let’s not forget about that. So, again, at the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re in the market for.

When to Choose Cricut Window Cling
  • You’re looking for an easily reusable sticker
  • Messy residue decals are a deal-breaker
  •  You’re a big fan of themed parties
  • Flexibility is what you’re opting for
When to Choose Removable Vinyl
  • Outdoor decorations are a priority
  • You live in an area with a harsh climate
  • You do lots of print-then-cut projects
  • You want the stickers to stay on for good

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Conclusion

Decorations are always exciting, no matter how old you are or what time of the year it is. And that’s exactly why it’s so important to have the right tool for the job. Removable vinyl has always been a fan favorite, but, as it turns out, Cricut window cling is, at the very least, a worthy opponent, one that could become the next big thing in years to come.

If you’ve got amazing indoor ideas, it will be the better pick. On the other hand, as we learned earlier, for outdoor use (like sticking a logo to your car’s windows), removable vinyl is still the preferred option because it stays on for longer and withstands temperature fluctuations. In any case, stickers and decals should be fun; so, make sure to have plenty of it!


Featured Image Credit: Imagincy, Shutterstock

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