How to Remove Stickers from a Car

Wondering how to remove a sticker from your car? Whether it's that family of stick figurines spanning the back window or a faded "My child is an honor student" placard on the hatchback, at some point you'll want to remove it. Unfortunately, removal is oftentimes easier said than done thanks to the ravages of time, the sun's rays, and other environmental factors conspiring to cement the sticker onto your vehicle. Here's how to safely remove stickers and the sticker residue from a vehicle's finish and windows without causing damage.

Vehicle System
Appearance, Body, & Towing
Skill Level

This is a good project for new DIYers

Time to Complete
15-30 minutes per sticker

    Remove Stickers from Car Safely

    First, do no harm. Don't use any metal scrapers, razor blades or abrasives – such as steel wool or sandpaper – to remove decals or their leftover, sticky residue from a vehicle's finish or windows. While these tools are great at eradicating foreign substances, they'll also remove the vehicle's clear coat and paint at the same time – destroying the finish in the process – and can even scratch window glass and damage window tint.

    Steps to Remove Stickers and Sticker Residue
  1. Everything you need to safely remove a sticker you probably already have right in your kitchen. Grab a bottle or jug of white vinegar and paper towels. Pour some vinegar over the sticker, then soak the paper towel with vinegar, and place it over the sticker for a few minutes. The acidic vinegar will soften the sticker and its adhesive, making removal easier.

    holding a paper towel over a bumper sticker
  2. Take a plastic spatula or even a credit card, and use it to gently pry underneath one of the sticker's corners. Slowly and gently lift the sticker off the vehicle and peel it away without scratching or damaging the vehicle's surface.

  3. For stubborn stickers, try heating it to help loosen the adhesive. Set a hair dryer to the lowest heat setting and hold the dryer approximately six inches from the vehicle's surface. Direct the heated air over the sticker for about 30 seconds to a minute, moving the hair dryer around. Don't hold the dryer close to the vehicle's surface or use a high heat setting, as that could damage the finish.

    holding a hair dryer up to a bumper sticker
  4. Gently peel the heated, softened sticker away.

  5. Clean away any remaining gooey residue with rubbing alcohol and shop towels.

  6. When the surface is clean and dry, add a coating of protective automotive wax.

  7. Extra Tips for Tough-to-Remove Stickers

    If you don't have white vinegar and a hair dryer, or are facing a particularly old, stubborn sticker or decal, don't throw in the towel. Try these additional steps instead. You've got this!

  8. Try WD-40 lubricant or Goo Gone automotive goo and sticker remover to get the job done quickly. Spray the sticker or remaining adhesive with either of these products. Let them soak into the surface for a few minutes.

    using Goo Gone to remove a sticker
  9. Then, remove the sticker following the steps above, followed by cleaning and protecting the area. Bonus: Goo Gone is also effective at removing tree sap, road tar, and bug remains if you don't have bug and tar remover handy.

  10. Vehicle stickers and decals can be fun, send a message, and bring individuality to your ride, helping it stand out from the crowd. Don't let the fear of not knowing how to remove a sticker stop you from adding some flair to your bumper or window. When they've outlived their purpose or life, grab some removal tools, bring your patience and make way for a clean surface – or more stickers.


Last updated August 17, 2021