When I was a kid I put a ton of stickers all over my wooden door. In addition, I also taped on posters and pictures.

I tried removing the stickers and with some of them having been there for more than ten years they leave behind some paper backing and some sticky white residue. The tape also seems to leave behind some residue.

So basically, I am wondering, what is the best way to remove all of the stickers and tape from my wooden door so that my door can look as best as it possibly can? In addition, are there things I can do to my door after residue removal to make it look better?

Thank you very much in advance for your time.

  • And this is why my parents didn't let me put stickers anywhere but on one toybox. And those stickers are still stuck on it, 40 years later. – Criggie Mar 18 '18 at 9:44

For this sort of residue, I highly recommend GooGone.

Mineral spirits, and Naptha will work, but the fumes they give off are much worse. You should also do a test area first, in case the chemicals you're using causes problems with the original surface (removes it too, stains it, etc.)

You might be able to speed things up with a hair dryer (not a heat gun, it'll heat things too much), and a soft plastic scraper (something too hard will do more damage than it helps). For the really stubborn stuff, GooGone + a plastic scrub pad (regular duty, not one of the heavy duty ones).

As for making it look better -- you might want to just strip the whole thing down and refinish it if it's particularly bad.


Others have recommended actual products, but it is possible that those will leave stains on the surface after the fact.

Have you considered/tried a steam cleaner? They are pretty good for tasks like that and they use only water so you have less of a mess left behind.

I've used it to remove stickers from an array of surfaces and it works great every time.

Hope that helps.


The stickers probably have a water based glue. You removed the sticker but the paper backing is still there? I would apply some water to the paper and let it soak for a few minutes then try to carefully scrap it off without damaging the finish of the door.

As for the tape, you could try heating it up with a hair dryer to soften the glue and try to remove. If that does not work, you could apply a little Naptha (zippo lighter fluid) on the glue residue to remove it. Don't use thinner or anything harsh as it will most likely remove the finish on the door. WD-40 should work also on the tape residue, try this first then the Naptha.


I just tried eucalyptus oil. This worked very well and did not damage the lacquer. (It was that hard lacquer that they put on pine furniture in the 1980's) Also the smell is pleasant.

  • 1
    Limonene (orange oil) based products also work well depending on what part of the workd you're in. Around here eucalyptus is hard to come by. google.com/… – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 25 '14 at 13:43

I highly recommend "De-Solv-It", a citrus based stickum remover. It works great: but use gloves as it will remove all the oils from your hands. You can get similar results with orange peel, but it's not as easy or clean.

After this you may still see an image of the tape on the door, as the uncovered area has faded. Either wait for it to fade to match, or repaint the entire door (removing hinges and hardware first, please!).


You could try nail polish remover and then peel it off. Ours works!


If the adhesive has turned into a hard mini-reef and refuses to soften with any solvents, then your only option after a decade might be mechanical.

TEST FIRST but some combination of sharp or blunt paint scrapers might be enough to remove the solid parts. Risk is a sharp scraper may take slivers of the door off because the door is softer than the dry adhesive.

Once the dried adhesive is gone, you could sand the whole door and then re-varnish it. Can't really get away with a spot sanding - the cleaned area will be clearly obvious.


Use alcohol wipes and then paint the door

  • OP didn't say they wanted to prep the door for painting, so on balance they probably want the wooden door to look like wood. – Criggie Mar 18 '18 at 9:39
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    Also, wipes aren't going to do a lot for the hard dry and crusty mini-reef that used to be adhesive. – Criggie Mar 18 '18 at 9:39

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