How to remove duct tape residue from car – 8 Essential Steps for 2023

by Mike Constanza

Vesta Stoudt invented duct tape in 1943 to save the lives of soldiers during World War II. Indeed duct tape has been a life-saving material in many situations to this day. From patching to creating, there is hardly anything that duct tape can’t fix.

However, those who regularly use duct tape can confirm that its powerful adhesive can be quite troublesome to remove. Especially from belongings that need to be handled delicately.

Besides, the longer the residue remains on the surface, the more dirt it accumulates. Eventually, turning into a nasty stain. Hence, if you have duct tape residue on your car surface, you need to get rid of it as soon as possible.

Fortunately, you can remove such residue using ingredients already in your home. Below we have compiled a list of ways you can remove adhesive from your car by yourself.

How to remove duct tape residue from car

How to remove duct tape residue from car
How to remove duct tape residue from car

Scraping the residue off

This method will remove adhesive from any surface. However, you have to be very careful, or you might damage the paint or finish of your car.

Take a blunt object such as an old credit card or sticker remover. Use its edge to gently scrape away any remaining adhesive from your car surface.

Once the residue from the duct tape comes off, apply a coat of degreaser. Finish by washing and drying your car with a microfiber cloth.

Melting the residue with heat

Applying external heat on dried adhesive can melt it and help you simply wipe it away.

Hold a heat gun a few inches away from the duct tape residue until it starts to liquefy. You can also use a hairdryer on its hottest setting to melt the glue.

Once the remnants start to melt and come off, wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. Lastly, wash and dry your car to avoid any staining.

Soaking in hot soapy water

If you don’t have a heat gun or hair dryer at hand, you can simply use hot water.

Soap can break the chemical compound of oil-based adhesive and dissolve it in water. So, we recommend adding a small amount of soap to the hot water to get rid of the residue quicker.

Mix 2 cups of hot water with a tablespoon of mild detergent in a spray bottle to avoid burning your hands. Spray the mixture directly onto the residue and gently wipe the area with back and forth motions with a clean brush.

Repeat until the residue comes off completely. Finally, clean the soap with clean water and wipe the area dry.

Wiping with Nail Polish Remover

Wiping the residue with a nail polish remover with acetone is an easy and quick method to get rid of duct tape residue.

However, acetone is used in nail polish remover to dissolve the nail paint. So it’s a no-brainer that it can harm the paint of your car. Hence, you should use this method only if you’re due a paint job.

Soak a cotton pad or microfiber cloth in nail polish remover. Stroke the area in back and forth motions until the adhesive is gone completely. Finish by washing and wiping the area dry.

Using Mineral Spirit

Mineral spirit or mineral turpentine is the safest chemical that can be used to remove tape residue from cars.

It is an organic solvent used as a paint thinner for oil-based paints. Similarly, it can break the molecules of adhesive down and solvate it. Unlike acetone, mineral spirits will not damage the paint of your car.

Take a small amount of spirit that is just enough to dampen a towel or rag. Next, rub the area in circular motions until the residue comes off.

Wash the area as soon as you can after the duct tape residue is removed.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

Diluted isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol is a common household material for removing stains. You can easily find it in any drugstore near your house. It also works wonders to remove stubborn duct tape residue from cars.

Dampen a clean rag with diluted rubbing alcohol. Next, gently rub the rag over the dried adhesive in back and forth strokes until the residue comes off. Lastly, wash and dry your car.

However, you should NEVER use rubbing alcohol on freshly painted cars or without dilution. As it can eat away at the paint. Always dilute it 10-15% before using it on car surfaces.

Wiping with Mineral Oil

Are you skeptical about using chemicals on your car’s surface? Don’t worry! You can also apply mineral oil to remove duct tape residue from your car.

Most duct tapes feature oil-based adhesives. Thus, mineral oil can break down its chemical component and somewhat dilute it. But you will need to use some elbow grease to get the job done.

Soak the area in any kind of mineral oil that is available to you at the moment. Next, use a microfiber cloth to rub the area vigorously until the adhesive comes off. Wash and wipe the area dry immediately after removing the residue.

Using Gasoline

Gasoline is a godsend when it comes to removing old and stubborn tape adhesive. Using gasoline is the quickest way to get rid of old, hard, and baked-on duct tape residue from car surfaces.

Lightly soak a towel in gasoline and simply rub the dried adhesive until it comes off. Depending on the area, it will take a few minutes but little effort to get the glue off completely.

Please remember that gasoline can leave a stain on your car if it’s left on for too long. So, clean the area as soon as the residue is off.

Final Thoughts

Some methods may take longer than others to work. So, there is no need for panic if you don’t see immediate results. With enough patience and work, you can effectively remove duct tape residue from your car’s surface.

About Mike Constanza

For years, Mike had always told everyone "no other sport like baseball." True to his word, he keeps diligently collecting baseball-related stuff: cards, hats, jerseys, photos, signatures, hangers, shorts (you name it); especially anything related to the legendary player Jim Bouton.

Mike honorably received Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from University of Phoenix. In his graduation speech, he went on and on about baseball... until his best friend, James, signaled him to shut it.

He then worked for a domain registrar in Phoenix, AZ; speciallizng in auction services. One day at work, he saw the site pop on the for-sale list. Mike held his breath until decided to blow all of his savings for it.

Here we are; the site is where Mike expresses passion to the world. And certainly, he would try diversing it to various areas rather than just baseball.

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