Lots of people like to put stickers on our laptops as a way to personalize them; some of us even love covering our devices in stickers. They’re incredibly easy to apply and can give your computer a new look in just a few seconds.
However, the problem comes when you want to remove them. Whether you want to resell your laptop or simply got bored of your old stickers, peeling them off often leaves you with shredded pieces and dirty gunk.
Fortunately, there are several ways to remove stickers from a laptop: from simply scrapping them off to using a dampened cloth, dish-soap, duct-tape, a heat gun or hairdryer, rubbing alcohol, and solvents.
Some of these methods work better than others, and there are certain substances that risk voiding your warranty or even damaging your laptop. So, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how to remove stickers from a laptop.
How to Remove Stickers from a Laptop
Removing stickers from your laptop is relatively easy if they’re not too old. However, things get tricky when you’ve pasted the stickers over a year ago.
There are several methods you can use for sticker removal, but whichever you choose, remember to be careful to avoid damaging your laptop. You should also stay away from abrasive tools and materials for that same reason.
Here are some of the ways you can safely remove stickers from a laptop:
If your stickers are relatively new, that is, if it’s been less than a year since you pasted them on your laptop, then you should be able to peel them off without leaving behind much sticky residue.
You can use a putty knife, credit card, or just your fingernails to scrape the stickers off. Let’s see how to do it:
- Figure out which corner would be the easiest to start with. Use your fingernail to pry off the corners of the sticker gently. If you notice that one seems to peel off easier than the other, then that’s the one you should start with.
- Pull the sticker up from the peeled corner slowly. Peeling fast and pulling too hard from the sticker’s edge can tear it, making it even harder to remove. You can also work a putty knife or a credit card under the lifted corner to remove the sticker, but try not to press your tool hard into the laptop surface.
Depending on the size and amount of stickers you want to remove, the entire process shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes.
If you want to reuse your stickers after removing them, or if you’re dealing with old ones, you can keep reading the following sections in this article.
How to Remove Old Stickers
When the sticker has been on your laptop for over a year, then you need a stronger approach when removing it.
But first, power off and unplug your device. If you can, you should also remove the battery whenever you clean your laptop. Since you’re going to be using water or other liquids to remove your old stickers, you want to avoid shocking yourself or damaging the computer if you accidentally spill something.
Dampen a clean, lint-free, microfiber cloth with warm water. Wring it out well, so it’s not dripping. Remember that water is your electronics’ worst enemy, so you don’t want any excess moisture getting inside your laptop. Rub the sticky spot with circular motions and firm pressure.
You might need to scrub for a couple of minutes, but with patience and a little elbow grease, you should be able to remove the sticker easily.
You can go a step further and add a drop of mild dish soap to a corner of the microfiber cloth after running the cloth under warm water again. Lather the soap using your fingertips and wipe down the gunky area.
Never apply any cleaner directly onto the laptop’s surface because you can cause irreversible damage, always use a cloth instead.
After rubbing the sticker residue for a few minutes, use a damp, but non-soapy section of the cloth to wipe away any remaining suds. Wipe the surface with a dry cloth when you’re finished. Use a dry, clean, lint-free cloth to dry off the cleaned area.
If the water and dish-soap haven’t worked, you can slide a piece of duct tape over the stubborn residue. Don’t forget to fold over a small bit of the corner to make a non-sticky handle.
Use two fingers to press and rub the sticky side of the tape over the stuck-on residue. Gently and slowly, pull off the tape. The stickiness of the tape should grab any residue left on the laptop.
While too much heat can damage your laptop, using a heat gun or a hairdryer at the lowest setting is a good option to remove stickers because heat can melt and loosen the glue.
Simply point your heat gun or hairdryer directly at the sticker you want to remove for about 30 to 45 seconds and turn it off. Let the surface cool off for 20 seconds, and heat the sticker again.
You should be able to peel off almost any sticker after two or three passes, with no shredding or residue at all. However, if the stubborn sticker remains stuck, you can try the scrapping technique to remove it fully.
Bear in mind that if your hair dryer or heat gun puts out a considerable amount of heat even at the lowest setting, it’s recommended that you reduce the amount of time for each pass. In such cases, it’s our experience that you’re better off trying any of the other methods for removal we mention in this post.
One of the strongest approaches calls for 90% rubbing alcohol, a 1-to-1 mixture of white vinegar and warm water, or even vodka if you have no other option.
Grab a microfiber cloth, dip a small piece in any of the liquids mentioned above, and rub the sticky spot with circular motions.
If wiping wasn’t enough to get rid of all the adhesive residue, hold the dampened cloth over the area and let it sit for about 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the remaining stubborn stickiness.
We recommend checking the affected area every 30 seconds to ensure the liquid isn’t damaging the surface. Don’t worry, rubbing alcohol shouldn’t discolor or damage the material of the laptop casing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
We don’t recommend using solvents at all because there’s a high risk of ruining your laptop’s casing, no matter how careful you are.
However, if you do want to try your hand at this method, there are substances such as mineral spirits, WD-40, and Goo Gone that can easily dissolve the adhesives on stickers to facilitate scraping them off.
Wear gloves when using solvents and work in a well-ventilated space. Apply a small amount of your chosen substance to a clean microfiber cloth (NEVER apply it directly onto the laptop) and dab the sticker around the edges. Make sure to avoid any seams or holes in your device.
Let the solvent rest for about 2 minutes, keeping a close eye on the surface and looking out for any signs of damage or discoloration, and carefully peel the sticker off.
When you’re done removing the sticker, wipe off the surface thoroughly with a clean piece of microfiber cloth to remove any remaining solvent and adhesive.
Stickers that have been on your laptop for less than a year should be fairly easy to remove for reuse. Try scraping it off with the very first method we’ve mentioned in this post, and you should have your sticker whole without leaving any residue behind.
Over time, the glue backing in stickers separates from the printed material, making it more challenging to peel cleanly. In such cases, you can use the heat gun/hairdryer technique.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! In fact, there are several stickers that you shouldn’t remove from your laptop. You may want to reconsider removing stickers related to the warranty seal, license key, or serial number because losing them can be problematic if you wish to get your laptop or its bundled software serviced someday or if you plan on selling it in the future.
Any of the methods for sticker removal we’ve described here works for sticker residue. However, we always recommend starting by cleaning the surfaces with a lint-free cloth and some elbow grease before attempting any of them. Sometimes that’s all you’ll need!
If that doesn’t work, start with the mildest techniques and progressively move on to the strongest ones if the gunk seems to be resistant.
Your computer screen is a lot more delicate than the casing, so removing sticker residue from it can be tricky. You can’t use any sharp things on it, not even your fingernails. You should also stay away from any solvents and liquids.
This leaves you with the heat gun/hairdryer technique as your only option, but only if the lowest setting doesn’t output too much heat. If you can tolerate pointing it at your hand for 10 seconds, then it’s alright. Point the gun or the hairdryer at the sticky residue for about 25 to 30 seconds, and it should remove it quickly and easily.
Apple recommends avoiding any abrasive cloths, towels, or paper towels, and sticking to lint-free cloths such as microfiber cloths. They also suggest staying away from abrasives, even mild ones, because they can damage your Macbook.
To remove sticker residue, you can moisten a microfiber cloth with a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol solution and use it to scrub the area gently.
As you can probably see by now, removing stickers from a laptop is absolutely possible, no matter whether they’re new or old. There are many methods available, but just as with any cleaning project, and especially when it comes to electronics, it’s wise to start off with the gentlest technique available. This way you can reduce the risk of altering or damaging the finish of the surface you’re cleaning. Hopefully, you’ll find one that works for you!