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How To Remove Sticker Residue From Books: 5 Easy Ways!

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Louisa

Removing sticker residue from books can be a pesky and time-consuming task, especially if you’re not sure where to start.

But don’t worry, it’s really simple to remove this unwanted residue from your book without damaging the cover.

All you need is to follow my few simple steps and gather some common household items, and you can effectively remove sticker residue from your favorite books without leaving any trace behind.

5 Techniques For Removing Sticker Residue From Books

There are many different methods for removing sticker residue from books. The method you choose will depend on the type of book you have, its age, and the materials you have at home.

1. Use Rubbing Alcohol

This is the best way to remove sticker residue, in my opinion. The alcohol content dissolves the glue and causes it to detach from the cover.

Most of the time, you can dissolve the glue enough that you simply wipe it away without the need for a scraper.

I prefer this method to the scraper as sometimes the scraper can slip and damage the book.

2. The Hairdryer Technique

The hair dryer technique is another popular favorite as it’s one you can easily do without the need of buying additional products.

The hair dryer works by heating up the glue and causing it to detach from the book.

Once it has heated up, you can simply wipe it off.

3. Use Essential Oils

If you don’t want to use abrasive chemicals such as rubbing alcohol, you can also try using eucalyptus oil.

This is a natural formula that has been known to dissolve glue in a similar way.

To use this method, follow the instructions below and swap out the rubbing alcohol for eucalyptus oil.

Corinne Segura, Building Biologist and writer at My Chemical-Free House tells me that the oils need to be pure and that “any of the citrus oils will work. Sweet orange oil is usually the most inexpensive since it’s made from the byproducts of the orange juice industry.”

She also says that “the d-limonene in citrus oils acts as a solvent to dissolve the sticky residue. You should leave the oil on the residue for one minute, then clean that off with a damp cloth or baby wipe.”

This is a good non-invasive technique that will work on all books that are shiny enough to not be damaged by oil, whether it’s a hardcover or softcover book. 

Thanks Corinne for the tip!

4. Use a glue dissolver

Another method, and one that would be a great idea if you have multiple stickers to remove, is to use a glue dissolver product such as Goo Gone.

I personally feel like this is a bit of a fad product, as it works just as well as a hair dryer or rubbing alcohol. However, it does have a nicer smell than rubbing alcohol which is a bonus.

5. Warm water, a scraper, and a bit of elbow grease

If you have none of the items mentioned above, you can try using warm soapy water and a bit of elbow grease.

I personally don’t recommend this method as the water and scraping can cause damage to the book if you are too rough with it.

However, it is effective in removing sticker residue.

How to Remove Sticker Residue From Books

Out of the methods I mentioned above, my personal favorite method is to use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover, since these are items I already have at home and have had success with it.

To remove sticker residue, you should follow the below instructions…

1. Gather your materials

Start by gathering the necessary supplies. Fortunately, these are all common items you can find around the house. You’ll need…

  • rubbing alcohol
  • paper towel or a clean cloth
  • another clean cotton cloth for drying
  • a plastic scraper for stubborn residue

2. Run a test patch first

To remove the sticker residue, you will want to apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto the cloth or piece of paper towel and rub it in a circular motion.

But before you do that, you should run a test patch first. Test the rubbing alcohol on a small inconspicuous area of the book first to make sure it doesn’t damage the cover or pages.

If possible, you might want to transfer the alcohol into a small container and dilute it with water.

If you have sticker residue that’s stubborn or has been on the book for a while, you may want to soak a paper towel in rubbing alcohol and lay it over the residue for a few minutes first.

I personally use rubbing alcohol to remove sticker residue as I have had more success with it, but next time I will use essential oils as I don’t like using chemicals with my books.

3. Start removing the glue

When the residue is soft, you can start rubbing in a circular motion until the residue starts to loosen.

Once you start rubbing, you will see small pieces of residue roll up and come away from the book.

Be sure to work from left to right rather than from the middle. This way you can push the loose pieces of residue along and not make a mess.

If you have stubborn residue pieces, you can use a plastic scraper to gently scrape off any large pieces of residue. Be careful not to scrape too hard and damage the book.

A scraper that you use to remove ice from the windshield of your car would do the trick.

4. Wipe down with a damp cloth

Whichever method you choose, once the majority of the residue is removed, soak the cotton cloth in warm water and wring it out.

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the area until all of the residue is gone.

This is a good way to check whether you have missed a spot.

5. Wipe with a dry cloth

Finally, quickly wipe the water off the book with a dry cloth, and then let the book air dry.

You can also place your books near a dehumidifier or fan to speed up the drying process or place silica packets on top of your books to soak up any excess moisture.

Remember not to leave your book in direct sunlight as this can speed up the yellowing of pages.

Final Thoughts

By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to remove sticker residue from your books without leaving any traces behind.

So, the next time you come across a stubborn sticker on your favorite book, don’t panic!

Just grab some rubbing alcohol and a few other supplies and get to work. Your books (and bookshelves) will thank you.

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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