It’s the quickest way to suck the joy out of buying a cute new top: You peel off the long sticker labelled with the size of the garment, and it leaves behind a relentlessly sticky residue that attracts lint and dust. Next thing you know, there’s a discoloured rectangle in the middle of your brand new shirt.
The most effective ways of cleaning off the residue — including nail polish remover — carry a risk of ruining your clothing. Before you make the problem worse, try one of these natural methods for removing that ridiculous sticker glue.
Use warm white vinegar
Your first attempt should be to clean the sticky area with warm, undiluted distilled white vinegar. You don’t need to add water — the acetic acid ingredient is more potent in undiluted vinegar, and will help remove the stain. Don’t worry; the acid content is the by-product of the natural distillation process of vinegar and will not harm your clothes when used correctly.
Dip a cleaning cloth in the heated vinegar and apply it to the area with the sticker glue. As you soak the area, the stickiness should start to come off. Once the area is entirely soaked, remove any lingering sticker or glue particles by gently scraping them with a metal spatula or butter knife. Rinse the area and cover it with a stain treatment prewash detergent. Scrub the spot with the stain remover, then rinse. Continue scrubbing until all remnants of the glue are gone. (The amount of effort this takes may vary depending on the level of stickiness.) Afterward, wash the garment as usual.
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Use peanut butter and dish soap
Grab a butter knife and a scoop of peanut butter (probably not the chunky kind, to avoid peanut pieces sticking to the clothing). With your butter knife, smooth the peanut butter over the affected area. Spread a thin layer just large enough to cover the borders of the sticky spot, and thick enough that you can’t see the fabric through the peanut butter smear. Wait up to five minutes for the peanut butter to soak in. Then use an old toothbrush or small cleaning brush to scrub the peanut buttered area. The scrubbing action will scrape off the glue residue, which will have been loosened by the oils from the peanut butter.
Once the sticker pieces and glue are gone, wipe away as much of the peanut butter as possible. Add dish soap to the area and scrub again. The dish soap helps remove any remaining stickiness, as well as the oil from the peanut butter. Rinse the area thoroughly and wash the clothing as usual.
Put the clothing in the freezer
To remove sticker residue from synthetic fibres, put the item in the freezer for 45 to 90 minutes. Freezing the clothing especially helps when stubborn pieces of sticker remain on the fabric; after freezing, they will have hardened enough that you can pick them off, or scrape them away with a metal spatula. Wet the sticky area and apply dish soap to the remaining residue. Scrub with a soft brush, then launder as you normally would.