Duct tape works miracles, but it often leaves behind a sticky reminder of its adhesive, regardless of where you’re using it. Most people try and fail to remove the remnants of duct tape, which can create an eyesore when its mostly removed — especially if you attempt to scrape a surface clean with some kind of tool.
Here are some ways to remove duct tape residue, aside from the standard methods of clawing at the adhesive like some wild animal.
Scrape away residue with the appropriate tool
Start out using a dull blade, like a butter knife, or you can try a putty knife, wikiHow recommends. (Anything serrated might be something of a gamble). Usefully, any straightedge that’s thin and durable enough might do the job. If you have any old credit cards or expired IDs lying around, those might suffice as well, likewise a spatula.
Just make sure you scrape delicately. Even if you do finesse the scraping, you could still wind up scuffing up the surface in question.
Get rid of residue with warm water
Dampening the surface with warm water could loosen the gunk’s stronghold on any number of materials. As Bob Villa explains: “The heat softens the structure of the glue, while the viscosity helps push it away. Apply plain water with a sponge or microfiber cloth, scrubbing with small, back-and-forth strokes.”
You can also add to the water’s viscosity with some soap, and scrub vigorously with a sponge. Or, try blanketing the adhesive crust with a warm, wet rag for 10-20 minutes to see if that loosens it up. Make sure your soap is on the gentler side, however, as heavy-duty stuff meant for thick stains can be too slippery.
Heat the duct tape adhesive
If you’re wary of mixing soapy water with stubborn adhesive, you can also use a blow dryer. Heating up the leftover adhesive with a handheld device is another option; the blow dryer is probably the safer bet, but you can also opt for a heat gun if you happen to have one sitting in your garage. Heat might be the most foolproof method in some ways, given that it’ll likely leave you with far smaller a mess than other avenues.
Once the adhesive is hot enough and falling apart, scrape it up with that expired credit card you’ve got lying in your junk drawer.
Use lubricant to get rid of duct tape residue if all else fails
If soap and heat don’t work, you might try making the leftover adhesive as slippery as possible. Bob Villa advises spraying WD-40 on any “glass, linoleum, vinyl, or finished wood,” but any cooking oil in your kitchen pantry might also be effective. When it comes to the chemical stuff, wear protective rubber gloves, spray the lubricant and then wait a few minutes before scraping away the residue with your finger or a tool.
With any kind of household cooking oil, the protocol is the same as it is with warm water — wet the adhesive with the oil and position a damp cloth on top of the area for about ten minutes. Then, begin to scrub.
While one of these options might not work initially, it’s quite possible that a combination of them will lead you to the promised land of clean surfaces unblemished by the duct tape of yesterday.