Remove Old Duct Tape Residue

Duct tape is great to have around; its strength and durability make it ideal for just about any DIY project. It’s safe to use on most materials and surfaces.  The downside is that it’s rather difficult to remove entirely, and several steps need to be taken to remove old duct tape residue that it leaves behind. 

remove old duct tape residue

Pulling off duct tape is only the first step. It’s inevitable that there is going to be a lot of sticky residue to deal with. As time passes, the sticky residue becomes harder and more difficult to eliminate. It almost becomes cemented onto the surface.

How you approach the removal process depends on what type of material or surface the residue is stuck on.

Remove Old Duct Tape Residue from Plastic

If the plastic item is small enough, simply immerse it in water for several minutes, and wipe dry when you get it out. If it’s NOT small, however, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a bowl with hot water, and add a liberal amount of liquid dish soap as well as ¼ cup of white vinegar.
  2. Take a cleaning pad (or several paper towels folded up). Soak it in the bowl.
  3. Apply the hot, wet cleaning pad onto the problem area. Let it stay for fifteen minutes.
  4. Take a small knife or razor blade and try to scrape the residue off of the plastic surface.
  5. If bits of stubborn residue are still stuck to the plastic, try cooling it with ice; the colder, the better. Try scraping off the frozen adhesive clumps. Sweep the loose bits off with a clean cloth.

Remove Old Duct Tape Residue from Metal

  1. Add a dab of Goo Gone or hand sanitizer to the surface. Let it set for at least five minutes.
  2. Try to pick off as much of the old sticky clumps as you can with either your fingernails or tweezers. Take care not to scratch the metal.
  3. Scrub the residue off with a course cloth or, if the metal is durable enough, a scouring pad.

Remove Old Duct Tape Residue from Wood

Make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated.

  1. If the woodwork is unfinished, apply nail polish remover to the problem area. If it is painted, you’re better off using household oil, such as mineral or olive oil.
  2. Wait for the oil or polish to penetrate the old, dry residue. If there is a lot of dried tape residue, you might want to let the oil soak overnight.
  3. When the gunk is moistened, try scraping it off with a spatula, paint scraper, or credit card.
  4. Wipe the grease and remaining residue off with a wet cloth.
  5. Keep in mind that more than one treatment may be needed.

Remove Old Duct Tape Residue from Carpet

Duct tape on carpet? Is does happen from time to time. Getting it off of a soft surface can take a bit of work. It’s recommended that you work in small lengths (no more than six inches a section) along the strip of the residue.

  1. You’ll need a strong cleaner that is safe to use on carpet such as WD-40. Spray it onto the residue and leave it to soak for at least twenty minutes.
  2. Put on rubber gloves, and gently rub the fibers on the rug or carpet to loosen the residue.
  3. Rub the fibers with a clean cloth to remove the loosened bits from the floor.
  4. Move on to the next section.
  5. When you’ve gotten up as much residue as you could, apply some carpet shampoo over the affected areas, or wash by hand with a moistened soft cloth.
  6. Run the vacuum cleaner when the carpet dries.

Remove Old Duct Tape Residue from Windows

The appearance of windows or mirrors is ruined by tape residue – it’s best to get that unsightly gunk off of glass as soon as possible.

  1. Carefully scrape the excess with a fresh razor blade or tip of a putty knife.
  2. On an uncoated glass surface, apply a bit of acetone and gently rub it onto the old duct tape. On a coated surface, use your regular Window cleaner or vegetable oil.
  3. Dampen a clean cloth with water and wipe the surface of the glass to remove any traces of the acetone or oil and residue.

Additional Tips for Removing Old Duct Tape Residue

You should always begin with the gentlest approach; don’t use strong chemicals unless you have to. Try to moisturize the dried tape to make it easier to scrape and wipe off.

Heating the surface area up is helpful as well. However, keep the hair dryer on low or moderate setting. Hold it over the residue for several seconds to melt it.

Rubbing alcohol can be useful for getting rid of gunk – especially if you’re in a hurry. It works rather quickly, and even leaves the surface nice and shiny once it has dried. It doesn’t leave oily residue behind like some commercial cleaning products.