How to Remove Adhesive From Auto Paint

by Paul Miceli Google

    Removing stripes and moldings from your vehicle leaves a sticky adhesive residue.

    Hemera Technologies/ Images

    Removing decals and stripes from the body of your vehicle often leaves an unsightly glue residue on the surface of the paintwork; but, with a little solvent-based cleaner, removal is easy. Getting rid of excess adhesive from auto paint means that the sticky surface of the residue cannot attract small particles of dirt and grit -- particles that could ultimately cause damage to the surface of the panel.

    Items you will need

    • Solvent-based panel cleaner
    • Hose and water
    • Protective gloves
    • Dry, lint-free cloth
    • Plastic spreader
    Step 1

    Purchase a can of solvent-based panel cleaner from an automotive supplier, and check that the material is safe to use on all modern paint materials and clear coats. Avoid cleaners that contain cellulose thinners, to prevent the risk of paintwork melting on application.

    Step 2

    Hose down the affected area with clean running water. Avoid using a cloth to wipe down sticky areas at this stage because lint and dirt sticks to the glue surface and causes scratches while wiping.

    Step 3

    Put on a pair of protective gloves to protect your skin from the solvents in the cleaning solution. Roll a length of dry, lint-free cloth into a ball that fits comfortably into the palm of your hand. Pour a copious amount of panel cleaner onto the cloth until you've saturated it.

    Step 4

    Start at one end of the adhesive, and wipe lightly over the panel surface, making sure that you've applied a liberal amount of cleaner to the glue. Leave the panel cleaner to soak into the adhesive for two minutes.

    Step 5

    Add more solvent-based panel cleaner to the cloth and wipe over the adhesive for a second time. Check to see if the adhesive wipes away as the cloth passes over it. Allow an additional two minutes of soaking time for stubborn areas before wiping over the panel again with a freshly saturated piece of cloth.

    Step 6

    Lightly score highly stubborn areas using the tapered edge of a plastic spreader, taking care not to dig into the paintwork. Use a crossed pattern over the entire area and add a further application of solvent-based panel cleaner so that it penetrates the scored sections easily. Leave to soak for a further two minutes.

    Step 7

    Soak more panel cleaner into a clean piece of cloth and wipe away the remaining adhesive. Use this process several times until all of the glue disappears. Take a dry piece of lint-free cloth and dry the panel thoroughly to remove excess panel cleaner.


    • Always wear protective gloves when handling solvent-based materials.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images