how to remove stickers from wood furniture

The age-old question: how to remove stickers from wood furniture?

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times parents tell their kids that stickers belong only on paper or clothes; they still find them everywhere.

Parents have found them on walls, the floor, the canister holding the dog food, their purses, and the furniture.

While some are easy to get off, removing stickers from wood furniture can be tricky. You don’t want to leave any residue or destroy the stain or wood.

There are a variety of ways to try and remove old stickers from your wood furniture. Try finding something you can slip between the sticker and the wood. This could be something plastic, like a credit card, or something like a razor blade.

Methods To Remove Sticker From Wood

methods to remove sticker

The Lift Method

Using the tool you chose, carefully slip it under a corner of the sticker. Work it carefully underneath the sticker, lifting it away from the wood as you go.

Tip: It may be easiest to use a pair of tweezers in one hand to pull at the sticker while the other hand works the tool under the sticker.

The Hair Dryer Method

When you apply heat to a sticker, the adhesive softens, making it easier to remove. Hairdryers are a convenient way to heat a sticker.

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To start, turn your hairdryer on to the lowest heat setting and aim it at the sticker.

You may need to hold it in place for 3-5 minutes before the adhesive loosens.

try hairdryer

After a few minutes, check to see if you can peel the sticker away.

If you don’t have or want to use your fingernails to do this, find something thin, like a butter knife, to gently pull up a corner until you can grasp it and begin to pull.

If you’ve started to peel the sticker off and hit a spot where it’s still too stuck to come up, reapply the hairdryer again.

Tip: Likewise, if you have a sticker larger than the hairdryer can effectively cover, you’ll need to do it in sections. Begin with one corner, peel, then move the hairdryer inward and peel the next segment.

The Industrial Solvent Method

If you don’t have a hairdryer handy, you’ll likely need to apply something to the sticker to loosen the adhesive.

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There are several options here, one being an industrial solvent such as acetone, fingernail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or paint thinner.

use a industrial solvent

To apply, soak a cloth or rag in the solvent and let it sit on the sticker for five minutes or so before trying to peel the sticker off.

However, it’s important to note that most industrial solvents will eat through any finish that your wood furniture has, such as paint or varnish.

If you find that the industrial solvents are too harsh, try moving on to something like vinegar or oil.

Tip: If you aren’t sure if the wood has been treated with anything like that, try a few drops somewhere on the wood that won’t be noticed first.

How to Remove Stickers from Wood Furniture With Vinegar

remove wood sticker with vinegar

If you’d rather not use harsher solvents, another great option is vinegar. Unlike rubbing alcohol and acetone, it doesn’t pose a risk to your wood.

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To remove stickers with vinegar, soak a cloth or napkin in white vinegar and apply it on top of the sticker. Let it sit for about five minutes.

Like in the steps above, find something to help you lift the sticker from the wood, like a scraper, razor blade, or knife.

Depending on the sticker, you may even be able to simply wipe it off.

Tip: The benefit of using solvents is that they work well to remove old stickers from wood, especially if the sticker is already partially torn or if you’re struggling to lift the edges.

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

If the vinegar itself isn’t working, it’s time to activate its acidity. Many of us did homemade volcanoes using vinegar and baking soda as kids.

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This experiment works because vinegar is an acid, though a weak one, and baking soda is a base.

When you put them together, they cause a bubbly reaction as the two try to neutralize each other.

vinegar and baking soda

Start by sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda over the sticker.

Fill a spray bottle most of the way with warm water, then add about a tablespoon of vinegar and a little dish soap.

Shake the spray bottle a bit, so it all mixes together, then spray it onto the baking soda-covered sticker.

Tip: This method works even better if you can lift a corner or edge of the sticker to let that reaction bubble underneath.

The Oil Method

use oil method

If you ever get gum stuck in your hair, one of the first pieces of advice you hear is to put peanut butter or oil on it.

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This is because oils are really good at breaking down many types of adhesives.

While peanut butter isn’t the best option, in this case, you can use a variety of cooking oils, WD-40, and even baby oil to help remove a stubborn sticker.

The method for this is the same as the vinegar method. Soak a cloth or napkin in oil, let it sit on the sticker, then try to remove it.

However, depending on the wood type and if the wood has paint or varnish on it, oil can potentially stain, leaving a dark spot behind.

Tip: Before testing this method, try a few drops somewhere that aren’t noticeable to ensure you won’t be ruining your wood.

The Adhesive Remover Method

use an adhesive remover

You can find several different adhesive removers on the market, like Duck brand and Goof Off.

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In our house, we always keep at least one bottle of Goo Gone on hand. Many adhesive removers use an oil, often a citrus oil, to break adhesive bonds.

Each product will have its own instructions, but adhesive removers like these are generally simple to use.

Apply the remover to the sticker, wait a bit, then either lift or scrub it off.

Tip: Before use, check the instructions to be sure the adhesive remover is safe on wood. 

Even if the instructions say it’s safe, do a spot test first. Taking the extra time to do this can save you in the long run.

Another option for an adhesive remover is an adhesive remover tool, like an Adhesive Remover Wheel. The wheel attaches to drills and rotary tools.

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It’s designed to remove stickers and decals through friction rather than abrasion, meaning that the material underneath stays damage-free while the sticker is removed.

The Abrasion Method

use the abrasion method

This is not a method to use on your nice wood furniture. But if you’ve bought an old wood desk that you were going to makeover anyway? Go right at it.

Sandpaper is the most effective abrasive tool to use in this case. When you’re using something abrasive, the goal isn’t to peel the sticker off but to scrub it off.

Tip: The grittiness of sandpaper makes it ideal, but it’s not the only option. Something like steel wool will also work, although in that case, it will be easier to dampen the sticker first.

The Takeaway

Stickers can be fun, but not when you find them stuck to your desk, dining room table, or floorboards – so, how to remove stickers from wood furniture? Luckily, you have several options to try to remove the sticker off of your wood.

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The method you choose may depend on the type of wood you have, the materials you have on hand, and the condition of the sticker.

Whether you use a hairdryer or sandpaper, a solvent or oil, or happen to have adhesive remover on hand, one of these options is bound to work so you can keep your wood looking beautiful and sticker-free.

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