Almost every household has a roll of duct tape lying somewhere because of its versatility. With all the usefulness, the duct tape leaves behind a sticky residue that is frustrating to get rid of.
You might have used it to hold your broken car window together or to attach something to the body of your car. Once the issue is sorted and the tape is removed, you are left to deal with that lingering sticky residue.
You need to take extra caution to avoid scraping or scratching your car’s paint. Razor blades or plastic scrapers may be useful in removing duct tape residues on some surfaces. However, they should never be used on the car’s exterior.
Here are some of our handy tips to remove duct tape residue from your car.
Soak The Glue In Warm Water
Step 1: To get that sticky residue off your car, the first thing you can try is to hold a wet washrag over it for some minutes. This method would soften the structure of the glue and make it less sticky. It allows you to wipe it off to a reasonable extent.
The longer the duct tape stays on your car, the more difficult it is to remove the glue. In essence, you might need to be very patient while scrubbing with small, back-and-forth strokes.
There might be instances where the glue will refuse to come off completely, but there is no need to worry. Add a drop of soap to water, soak a towel in it, and cover the residue for some minutes.
Step 2: After about 10 minutes of covering the affected area with the wet cloth, get a dry soft towel to wipe it dry.
Clean With A Solvent
Another useful and less stressful method you can use in removing duct tape residue on your car is to use solvents. Solvents that are primarily for auto-body spot cleaning should be used. These purpose-made chemicals can be gotten from gas stations, auto supply stores, or auto departments. These are available at any auto supply store or auto department.
Step 1: Apply the solvent to your car surface with a clean, soft cloth. Be sure to check with the seller and ask questions.
This is to ensure that the solvent would not harm your car’s pain. One cannot be too careful, so it is recommended that you test the solvent on a small hidden area of your car’s paint before purchasing.
WD-40 is an effective solvent to help remove duct tape residue from the car’s body. Goo Gone is another great solvent that can be used.
Step 2: You must remove any residue left by the solvent with a soft dry cloth. This should be done so that you do not have a much bigger problem than duct tape residue.
Scrape The Residue Away
A solvent might not be available when you are in this kind of situation, and you might need another method. You might have an expired credit card in your pocket.
Step 1: Use the edge of the card to scrape off any remaining duct tape residue carefully. Cards will most likely not leave a dent on your car. Peel off the paint because they are less abrasive than plastic scrapers and razor blades.
Step 2: There may still be traces of duct tape residue, so all you have to do is reapply a final coat of degreaser. The next time you wash and dry your car as it would be like nothing was ever there.
Use A Rubbing Alcohol
Another alternative to the above-mentioned options is the use of rubbing alcohol – a common and surprisingly versatile household item. Its uses include getting rid of fruit flies, dissolving windshield frost, removing hairspray from mirrors and tiles, removing ink.
It can also be used for permanent marker stains, deodorizing shoes, cleaning makeup brushes, cleaning sinks and chrome, etc.
Step 1: get a soft and clean cloth and dampen it with isopropyl rubbing alcohol, which can be gotten at any drug store. The cloth must be clean and soft. This will prevent leaving a mark on your car after the duct tape residue comes off.
Step 2: Then, gently rub the cloth back and forth over the area until the adhesive comes off. The combination of the rubbing alcohol and friction from rubbing will remove most of it.
Blow With A Heating Device
As in the case of using warm water, hot air can help weaken the bond of duct tape residue. This makes it easier to remove from your car’s surface. It is an alternative if you don’t want to use warm water, alcohol, or oil.
Although it can be stressful and a bit laborious, this method is one of the safest options on this list. This is because it doesn’t involve any liquids that could cause discoloration or damage.
Step 1: Turn your hairdryer or any other heating device to high heat, and hold it over the duct tape residue for about 45 seconds. At this time, the adhesive of the duct tape should be less sticky. You can proceed to scrape it off gently.
If it still doesn’t come off easily, you can continue the hairdryer treatment for another 45 seconds.
Step 2: Wipe the surface with a soft cloth to ensure no residue is left on the surface.
Use A Nail Polish Remover
Nail polish removers are also very versatile. Of course, they are not meant for this purpose, but they can prove effective if that’s all you have. Note that this alternative is only recommended for the glass of your car, not the body.
Step 1: Apply the nail polish remover on the duct tape residue and leave for a few moments.
Step 2: After about 10 minutes, the duct tape should be less sticky. Wipe it off with a clean damp cloth. You can use an expired credit card to scrape it if needed.
Use A Combination Of Baking Soda, Coconut Oil, And Lemon Essential Oil
Another method to effectively remove duct tape residue is to mix baking soda, coconut oil, and lemon essential oil. The only drawback to this method is that it would take a longer time to achieve the desired results.
This is in comparison with the time it will take if you try the other methods mentioned.
Step 1: Mix cup coconut oil, cup baking soda, and ten drops of lemon essential oil in a container. Mix well until you get a thin paste texture.
Step 2: Spread the mixture on the surface for about an hour, or for as long as necessary. The duration largely depends on the time for which the duct tape was on your car.
Step 3: Use an expired credit card to scrape it off gently. Once this is done, rinse and clean the area with a soft wet cloth. After which, you can dry it with a soft dry cloth.
How Do You Prevent Duct Tape Residue?
Now, you are equipped with the knowledge of how to remove duct tape residue from your car. You must know how to prevent it from happening again. You don’t want to use the methods mentioned above too often. This is to ensure your car paint doesn’t come off quickly.
- Ensure that you clean and dry the surface before applying the duct tape. Using duct tape on a dirty or wet surface is not advisable. It increases the probability of having residue when the duct tape is taken off.
- Pill the tape off quickly. Ripping off a tape quickly in one motion makes for a clean, less sticky removal. It should be noted that this might not be applicable on the glass of your car. This does not prevent the glass from getting shattered.
- Consider changing the tape frequently. As stated earlier, the longer the duct tape stays on the surface of your car, the more likely it is for it to have residue. Also, the more difficult it is for the residue to come off. If it’s your glass that needs to be taped and won’t be fixed soon, change the tape after a short period.
- Try other tapes. Some other tapes are designed to leave no residue at all, but they might be expensive. However, if it would not affect your budget, getting one of such tapes is recommended.
What Is The Best Method?
Now, you know some of the most effective methods to remove duct tape residue from your car.
The methods highlighted above can be used individually to get the result that you need. However, the duct tape might have stayed longer on your car’s surface.
You might need to combine some of the methods to get rid of the stubborn residues. The most important thing is to ensure that you wipe the surface clean and avoid any scratches on your car.
With comprehensive experience in writing exceptional quality articles and blogs about cars and related stuff, Daniel is one of the finest bloggers and a hardcore car lover we have. He is an ASE certified technician with an across-the-board experience of 10 years in the industry. He could not help tinkering with anything he got his hands on from a young age, which led to his remarkable career in the automotive repair industry.
When he is not under any hood, you can find him on the water or in the woods to pursue his passion for hunting and fishing. He has been writing for multiple sectors and is a regular contributor to several publications.
He currently owns a Nissan 300ZX TT and a Pearl Yellow but plans to upgrade it to 550 HP. His favorites include the Koenigsegg CCX and Lamborghini Diablo 6.0 VT, but for him, the Ferrari 360 Spider is one of the sexiest cars that exists to date.
Being an avid world traveler, he has spent most of his time analyzing the automotive markets, latest technology, and local favorites to enhance his knowledge base. He is currently living in North Caroline, where it’s all about food and coffee and, of course, cars.