How to Easily Get Stickers Off Wood

How to Easily Get Stickers Off Wood

how to remove stickers from wood

We all love a great sticker. From water bottles to diaries, stickers add flair to every surface. Well, almost every surface. That princess hologram your four-year-old added to Mom’s vintage oak table? Not so much.

When it comes to sticker removal difficulty, wood ranks near the top. Peeling creates a stubborn bird’s nest of pieces and adhesive, while rubbing with your fingers only makes the mess grimy.

Okay, then—how to get stickers off wood? 

Before You Begin

The problem isn’t the sticker. It’s the wood, and you don’t want to damage it. Instead, prepare correctly beforehand to protect it:

- Research First: Investigate how to remove stickers from your particular wood, especially if it's expensive or antique.

- Check the Finish (or Lack Thereof): Hair dryers can melt lacquer, while vegetable oil may darken unfinished wood.

- Avoid Using Coarse Materials: When it comes to sticker removal, steel wool is not your friend. If it’ll scratch the sticker, it’ll scratch the wood beneath it. 

Hair Dryer

Heat melts sticker adhesive. That’s good! Remember, though, that it melts lacquer, too, so use with care:

  1. Using low heat, blow hot air on the sticker for two minutes.
  2. Peel a corner with tweezers or a flat-edged tool. The sticker may come off.
  3. If it doesn’t, gently pull up while blowing heat under the edge until the sticker comes loose.
  4. Remove residue with a damp cloth.


Solvents dissolve sticker adhesive (hence the name). They range in strength from gentle to downright powerful:

On the Gentler Side

Hot Soapy Water: Some stickers come off with old-fashioned soap water.

  1. Apply damp cloth to the sticker.
  2. Soak for several minutes. Avoid oversoaking the wood as it may absorb the water and swell. Re-wet cloth if needed.
  3. Peel or rub off the sticker once softened.
  4. Wash away residue.

White Vinegar: A step up in strength from water.

  1. Apply damp cloth to the sticker.
  2. Soak for five minutes.
  3. Peel or rub off the sticker once softened.
  4. Wash away residue.

Vegetable Oil: Mild mineral or plant oils can also do the trick. Keep in mind that oil can darken unfinished wood.

  1. Place several drops of vegetable oil on a sticker.
  2. Soak for about two hours.
  3. Scrape off the dissolved sticker and adhesive.
  4. Wash away residue.

Commercial Glue Remover: You can use products like citrus oil cleaners or Goof Off. Nail polish remover works wonders as well.

  1. Check the label to ensure the product is safe for wood.
  2. Wet sticker only enough to cover it.
  3. Soak for several minutes.
  4. Place a drop underneath an edge.
  5. Peel or scrape off softened sticker and adhesive.
  6. Wash away residue.

Petroleum Jelly or Vaporizing Rub: These take a while, so put on your patient face.

  1. Apply to the sticker.
  2. Wait about eight hours for the adhesive to soften.
  3. Scrape off dissolved sticker and adhesive.
  4. Wash away residue with dish detergent.

Not So Gentle

Approach these solvents with caution. First, they’re toxic and inflammable, so only apply them outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces. Second, soaking with these can damage paint and finishes. Always test them first.

- Lighter Fluid: While it harms some finishes, it’s normally fine for the paint and wood.

- Paint Thinner: This one harms more finishes than lighter fluid.

- Acetone or Acetone-Based Lacquer Thinner: These destroy most finishes and lacquers.

- Rubbing Alcohol: Works just fine if you like dissolved lacquer and damaged wood—but at least the sticker’s gone!


If all else fails, take care, because sanding can and will remove a layer of wood. Be prepared to resurface the surrounding area if needed.

  1. Rub with 80-grit paper until the sticker and adhesive come off.
  2. Smooth out surface with 120-grit followed by 220-grit.
  3. Reapply paint or finish.

There you have it! In the battle of how to get stickers off wood, you're armed with knowledge and power.

For higher quality stickers, use Die Cut Stickers!