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How to Remove a Bumper Sticker

An expert provides steps for removing adhesives from your car.

Red Tesla Model 3 driving with carpool stickers on the bumper.
Remove unwanted stickers without damaging your paint or bumper.
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

The passions of an election can fade away, but bumper stickers have a way of sticking around. Ready to strip down? “There’s no perfect system, since there are so many different types of adhesives,” says Jim Stavrinides, owner of California Detailing Inc. in San Francisco. Here are the best steps for removing bumper stickers from your car.

Test

Carefully use your fingernail on a corner of the sticker—it may peel right up if it’s not too old. Never use plastic or metal scrapers, which can scratch the car’s paint.

Heat

If the decal is stubborn, warm it with a hair dryer section by section. As the sticker warms, the glue should get soft and let go.

Moisten

For any remaining pieces, soak a soft cloth in automotive adhesive remover or wax and grease remover. Hold it against the sticker for a few minutes, then peel the sticker off.

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Wipe

Get rid of any gobs of goo by cleaning the area with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Polish

Hand-polish with liquid car wax to take off lingering adhesive and smooth out any color differences.

Call

If all else fails, professional body shops have special tools that can rub off even the stickiest scum.

This article was first published in January 2013 and last updated in July 2022.