Smart Ways To Remove Sticker Residue From Clothing

Sticker residue: the unfortunate hangover from a work event requiring name tags, spending time with decal-loving kids, or even the well-meaning act of washing your new top you forgot bore a "50% off" tag. Whatever the cause, it's something most of us have dealt with at some point. However, the great thing is, there are ways of removing those sticky remnants for good.

To ditch those annoying adhesive stains, you'll want to use either a ton of heat, or a ton of cold. And yes, we're talking extremes: for the heat route, you'll need an iron, and for the cold, a freezer. Now, depending on what you've heard about stain removal in the past, that could come as a surprise. Irons and stains are usually a total no-go. As for the freezer, wouldn't that just harden the adhesive? With all that in mind, you'll want a clear plan of action before getting stuck in on one of these un-sticking missions. 

That said, don't be scared off. Even if they sound a little unorthodox at first, there's some impressive logic behind both the iron and the freezer options. Plus, unlike some of the other solutions you may have heard in the past (hello, acetone), both can be used on any fabric. Plus, you won't risk creating an oil-based stain (we're looking at you, peanut butter). So, how do these hot 'n cold approaches work? 

Hold an iron above the adhesive

Step one to the ironing approach requires cranking that iron all the way up. And, while high temperatures certainly sound anxiety-inducing when dealing with a stain, they don't need to be cause for concern. That's because, with this method for how to get sticker residue off clothing, the iron isn't meant to touch the stain at any point.

While you're waiting for the iron to heat up, grab an old credit card, plastic takeout knife, or something that can be used to scrape the fabric. Then, hover the iron above the stain for a few seconds. Soon enough, you should see the hard adhesive begin to soften ... and that's where the card or knife comes in. Working quickly, start scraping the adhesive off. In its softened state, it shouldn't take long at all. However, if you do notice that the residue is cooling down and hardening, simply heat up the iron again and do it all again. Once you're happy with the results, wipe the area with a damp cloth. 

Another deviation you may want to consider is doing the same thing with paper towels over the adhesive stain, a la Modernly Morgan, or a piece of fabric. This time, the iron will go directly onto the barrier layer you've chosen. You still won't be touching the glue remnants with the iron, but it's a slightly more intensive approach. And, might we add, perhaps a better option if you're prone to shaking and are concerned you'll touch the mark.

... or stick the item into the freezer

If the thought of heat, even without touching the stain directly, is still a little nerve-wracking, cold might be a better bet. Sure, cold will harden the residue. However, that's exactly what makes this option an effective one.

Molly Maid's Practically Spotless blog suggests popping your garment into the freezer for around 90 minutes. That should be enough time for the adhesive to have hardened. From there, grab whatever you're using to scrape at the stain, and get to it. If you're finding there are still some sections that are hard to lift, spot clean with detergent and water. That should be all you need to complete the process. With that said, you can also always place it back into the freezer to try it all again.

Given just how tough it can be to clean, no one wants to find sticker residue on their clothing. However, the reality is sometimes it just can't be avoided. Sure, being diligent about what goes into the laundry and inspecting for stickers is an option, but when life gets in the way, it's good to know there are ways of fixing even the stickiest situation.