I recently wanted to remove an old sticker from a jar, and it just wasn’t coming off. I once heard that WD40 could be used to take off a sticker easily. I initially thought this was just an urban legend, so I did a little experiment to find out.
WD40 does remove stickers, whether it has been on your surface for a short or long duration. This water-displacing spray easily eliminates stickers and their adhesive residue in minutes. Just keep in mind that WD40 breaks down some types of plastics, which is a typical surface stickers are located.
Now, let’s talk about how the process works, how to do it, and give you the results of my little experiment.
Why WD40 Removes Stickers
The makers of WD40 originally engineered their spray for Convair to use on the Atlas missile’s fragile outer shell. They planned to protect the shell from rust and corrosion.
Later, researchers realized WD40 had many household applications, and it was marketed to consumers. WD40 became well known for effectively removing items like tar, bugs, and stickers.
One thing WD40 is well known for is removing decals from auto glass. This water-displacing spray operates like an oil. It penetrates the sticker and its residue so that it can easily be wiped away. The product leaves no evidence that the sticker was ever there.
WD4o can remove stickers from most metals, some plastic surfaces, and wood.
How Do You Remove Stickers With WD40?
Removing stickers with WD40 is really easy. All you need to do is grab a can of multi-purpose WD40 lubricant, like this kind found on Amazon, and spray it on the sticker you wish to remove.
The product needs to soak into the sticker. It needs to be left on the sticker for several minutes. It will not remove the sticker and its residue effectively if you wipe it immediately after it has been sprayed on.
Some cans of WD40 come with a smart straw applicator. This straw ensures the precise application of the product. It helps focus the product on the targeted area and stops the excess from being sprayed out.
When the sticker has been fully saturated, take a damp cloth to wipe away any residue or sticker parts. If this doesn’t immediately work, a scraper should easily take it off, like in my experiment.
Related 6 Handy Alternatives to WD40.
My WD40 Sticker Test
I decided to either prove or disprove whether WD40 actually makes a difference in removing a sticker. So, I used probably the hardest thing I could think of to get a sticker off, an old olive jar that had the label baked onto it over a couple of years in my garage. I live in the Southern US, so you can imagine the heat it has endured intermittently.
Here is the video documenting the experiment:
Will WD40 Harm Any Surfaces?
Wd40 should not be used on some types of plastic. Plastic can be sorted into two groups; crystalline and amorphous. The crystalline group of plastics are made up of nylon, polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene. These plastics are not adversely affected by WD40.
In contrast, WD40 is exceptionally harmful to amorphous plastics. This group consists of plastics like PVC, styrenics, and polycarbonates. These plastics do not react well to hydrocarbons. WD40 has a hydrocarbon base, so these plastics do react well to the lubricant.
The chemical structure of amorphous plastics begins to break down when they come in contact with WD40’s hydrocarbon base. The hydrocarbons try to melt the plastics.
Important: Some of the plastics you should not use WD40 on include: cutlery, baby bottles, smoke detector housing, and DVD cases. Alternative methods or sticker removal should be used on these plastics.
WD40 has been rated for use on rubber, but many people shy away from using it on natural rubber. A temporary application of WD40 seems to result in no damage, but longer-term use appears to have different results. A rubber object that stays wet with WD40 over a more extended period will begin to dissolve. This occurs because WD40 is an oil, and oil dissolves rubber.
Related Does WD40 Harm Plastic? | It Depends.
What About Car Paint?
One of the most common questions is about using WD40 on car paint since bumper stickers are commonly something people want to get off. WD40 is definitely 100% safe for car paint. In fact, this is the type of surface the stuff was originally intended to go on in the first place.
What Else Can I Use to Remove Stickers?
Many household items can be used to remove stickers. These include:
- Cooking Oil
- Rubbing Alcohol
Let’s briefly go through each one.
Any type of cooking oil can be used to remove stickers. Just put a small amount of oil on a paper towel and place the dampened towel on the residue. Leave it on for a few minutes so that the oil has a chance to absorb the sticker mess. Take off the towel and use your finger or a scraper to remove the adhesive substance.
Vinegar is an acid. When diluted with water, the acid becomes lighter and can be used to remove a sticker. Soak a rag in the mixture and then wring it out. Put the rag on the sticker for a few minutes. This should work to lift the sticker residue.
Use mayonnaise to remove stickers from any non-porous surface. This condiment combines vinegar and oil to attack sticker residue. Just place this sticky substance on top of your sticker, leave it for a few minutes and then wipe it away. You will want to use a damp cloth to remove any leftover sticker parts and mayonnaise residue. Please do not use this substance on porous surfaces as it can stain them.
Rubbing alcohol is a substance that many use to remove stickers. Take a cotton ball and soak it in rubbing alcohol. Place the cotton ball over the sticker and let the rubbing alcohol work to dissolve the sticker. Rub or scrape away any leftover remnants.
It turns out that many people turn to WD40 to help them remove stickers as well as many other practical applications (fishing lures being one).
Today, I was able to confirm its use on stickers at least. This will come in handy for reusing old canning jars lying around the house.
I hope this article has been helpful. If you try this out, let me know how it goes in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
For more, check out Is It Okay to Put WD-40 on Lug Nuts? | What You Need to Know.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!