How to Remove Sticky Substances from Fabric

At some point or another, something sticky will stain your clothes. Whether chewing gum, glue, stickers, or tape, sticky substances can be a pain to get out of fabric. You can remove the sticky goo by using an adhesive remover, like peanut butter or dish soap, or by heating or freezing the garment.

Method One of Four:
Preparing Your Garment
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  1. 1
    Lay out the garment. Once you’ve realized that something sticky has gotten onto your shirt, sweater, or any other piece of clothing, put it on a flat surface where you can work at removing the stain.
    • Do not wash your garment after you notice a stain. Washing the fabric sets in the stain and makes it harder to remove. If you've already washed the fabric before you noticed the sticky substance, removing the stain will take more work.
  2. 2
    Scrape the substance off the fabric. Work carefully, using an object with a flat edge, like as a table knife or an old credit card. Try to remove as much of the substance as you can. This will make the removal process much easier.
    • If you’ve already washed the fabric, you might not be able to scrape much off.
  3. 3
    Collect your materials. To remove the stain, you’ll need to choose a removal product. You will also need a soft brush to massage the product into the stain. An old toothbrush works well, or even an old cotton washcloth. Once you’ve massaged the stain out you’ll need to wash the garment, so you’ll need laundry detergent.[1]
    • You can also use cotton balls to blot the stain if you do not have a soft brush.
  4. 4
    Test in a small area. Before you start, you’ll want to test the removal product that you’ve chosen on a small area of the fabric. Choose an area that is inconspicuous and isn’t noticeable. This way, you’ll know if the product will stain your fabric. Some delicate fabrics, like satin or silk, are more likely to become stained than more durable fabrics, like cotton or polyester.[2]
    • If the removal product does happen to stain your garment, choose another removal product. Test this new product in another inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t stain.
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Method Two of Four:
Using an Adhesive Removal Product
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  1. 1
    Choose an adhesive removal product. There are a number of different products that you can use to remove sticky substances from clothing and fabric. You can use whatever you have on hand. Some are alcohol based, while others are oil based. They break down the sticky residue once they’re rubbed into the stain.[3] You can use these adhesive removal products on every type of fabric. Here are some of the most common products:
    • Dish soap
    • WD-40
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Peanut butter
    • Vegetable oil
    • Nail polish remover with acetone[4]
    • Goo-Gone or another product made specifically to get rid of goo
  2. 2
    Rub a small amount of your removal product on the garment. The amount of product that you’ll need will depend on the size of your stain, but start with a small amount at first.[5]
    • For more liquid products, like nail polish remover, soak a cotton ball and then dab it on the fabric.[6]
  3. 3
    Massage product into fabric. Using your fingers or a soft brush, massage the product into the fabric until the sticky substance disappears. This may take up to 10-15 minutes. Keep working and massage the product into the fabric, scraping off any pieces of goo that come off in the process.
  4. 4
    Scrub the area, if needed. For some set in sticky substances, you may need to use the soft brush to scrub the product in.
    • If the clothing has been through the wash, you’ll most likely need to do some scrubbing in order to lift up the adhesive.
  5. 5
    Wash the fabric. Once the sticky substance has been removed, you can wash the fabric as you normally would.[7]
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Method Three of Four:
Removing Sticky Substances Using Heat
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  1. 1
    Set up an ironing board and iron. You can also use heat to remove sticky goo that has been set into the fabric by washing. Set your iron on high and wait for it to heat up. Do not use the steam setting.[8]
    • You will also need paper towels for this method.
  2. 2
    Prepare the garment for ironing. Lay the garment on the ironing board with the sticky stain face up. Cover the stain with two layers of paper towels. The paper towels should cover the entire sticky area, so if you have a very large stain you may need a few more paper towels.
    • This method works well for sticky substances, like the adhesive on the back of stickers, that have been put through the wash.
  3. 3
    Hold the iron on the sticky area. Take your iron and press down on top of the paper towel covered stain. Hold the iron on the stain for about 5 to 10 seconds. This heats the sticky goo up, making it easier to remove.
    • Some fabrics can burn more easily than others, like polyester or acetate. The paper towels should prevent the iron from burning your fabric, but be careful and use another method if you start to burn the fabric.
  4. 4
    Remove the iron and start scraping. After about 5-10 seconds of heat, the goo should be heated up enough that you can begin to scrape the sticky substance off. Use a flat edge, like an old credit card or your fingernail, to scrape the goo.
  5. 5
    Repeat until the goo is gone. This might take a few rounds of heat and scraping before the goo is gone. Repeat the process of 5 to 10 seconds of heat and then scraping until the set in stain is gone.
  6. 6
    Wash the garment as you normally would. After all the gunk has been removed, you can wash the fabric according to its care instructions.
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Method Four of Four:
Freezing Off Sticky Substances
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  1. 1
    Place the fabric in a freezer. Some sticky substances, like hot glue or gum, become very brittle when they are frozen. Put the fabric in the freezer until the sticky substance is completely frozen. This method works better with gum and glue-like substances rather than stickers or sticky substances that have seeped into the fabric.[9]
    • You can put the garment into a freezer safe plastic bag as long as the sticky substance does not touch the bag.[10]
    • You can freeze any type of fabric without damaging it.
  2. 2
    Scrape off the frozen substance. Once the sticky substance is frozen, remove the garment from the freezer. Immediately begin to scrape the substance off with a flat butter knife or an old credit card. The frozen glue should pop off and detach from the fabric.
    • You may be able to use your fingernails to pry off the gum as well.
  3. 3
    Use another method, if necessary. If freezing the sticky substance didn't remove all of the residue, use another method to remove the remaining stain. Try using heat or an adhesive removal product to remove the remaining stickiness.
    • Once the stain is fully removed, you can wash the garment.
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    • First remove as much of it as possible by hand. Then, apply vinegar to the stain and run under hot water. Wash it after.
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TipsEdit

  • If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, you can make the sticky substance less sticky by dusting it with talcum powder.
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  • You can also use a hair dryer to heat up the stain if you don’t have an iron on hand. Hold the hair dryer on high over the stain for about a minute to loosen it up.
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  • For permanent glues, like epoxy or super glue, you will need to use acetone to remove the substance.
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WarningsEdit

  • Be very careful when working with acetone based nail polish remover. Acetone fumes can be toxic so work in a well ventilated area. It can also damage wood, so be very careful if you’re using acetone on fabric near wood.
    1 Helpful?  0
  • For fabrics that are dry clean only, let a professional take care of the stain instead of trying to remove it at home.
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About This Article

43 votes - 65%
Co-authors: 21
Updated:
Views: 39,339
Categories: Cleaning Fabric

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