How to Remove Car Decals

How to Remove Car Decals

Sick of looking at that faded decal from high school? You are not alone. Most people come to rue their decision to plaster stickers on their vehicle’s exterior. The realization comes when the euphoria of the moment has evaporated and reality has started to sink in.

Luckily for you, you can get rid of car decals without causing any damage to your vehicle’s exterior.  Your car’s paint job will remain unscathed and nobody will be able to guess if there was ever any sticker on your automobile. Read on to know how to remove car decals:

Before You Remove Car Decals

Before You Remove Car Decals

Here’s what you need to do:

Clean the area

Fill a small bucket with a mixture of warm water. Add a few drops of laundry soap afterward. Dip a dry microfiber cloth in the bucket and rub the area surrounding the decal – and the decal itself – to remove dirt, grime, or dust particles.

Dry the area

Remove any suds from the area by pouring fresh water over it. Use another microfiber cloth to wipe it dry and ensure no traces of water or soap are left behind. Those of you who have some time on their hands can also let the area air dry on its own.

Pick at the decal’s weaker spots

Don’t try to go all the way through by attempting to remove the entire decal. You may not be able to do that but could still end up ruining the paintjob. All you have to do is just raise the corners of the decal to increase the effectiveness of the upcoming methods.

How to remove car decals?

Here are different methods using which you can remove car decals:

a) Use Hair Dryer

Here’s how you can remove car decals with a hairdryer:

What you’ll need?

  • Hairdryer
  • Rubber spatula (optional)
  • Goo Gone or rubbing alcohol
  • Dry microfiber cloth

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Step 1: Warm the sticker

Warm the decal with a hairdryer. The hot air will cause the decal to loosen its grip on the car’s exterior. It will also make it easy for you to peel off the decal in the upcoming steps.

Turn on the hairdryer and set it at its ‘low heat’ setting. Aim the hot air at the decal for about a minute. Hold the dryer as close to the sticker as possible for the recommended period.

  • Step 2: Peel off the decal

Use a rubber spatula or your fingernail to peel off a corner of the sticker. Take it from there and continue peeling until the entire sticker has come off. Apply more heat if you feel its need.

Make sure that you’re peeling the decal back, not up. That’s because peeling it up will allow it to leave a patch of sticky residue behind, one that won’t be easy to remove.

  • Step 3: Remove the adhesive

Once you’ve removed the entire decal, you may be left with a layer of leftover adhesive. Remove it using an adhesive remover designed for vehicles, Goo Gone, or rubbing alcohol.

Apply a few drops of the alcohol on a dry microfiber cloth and use it to rub off the leftover adhesive. Be gentle while rubbing off the adhesive, or you might end up damaging the paint. 

b) Use White Vinegar

Here’s how you can remove car decals with white vinegar:

What you’ll need?

  • White vinegar
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic card

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Step 1: Douse the decal with white vinegar

Dip the paintbrush in white vinegar and douse the decal with it. You can also use a paper towel if the decal covers a large area on your vehicle’s exterior.

  • Step 2: Remove the decal

After dousing the decal and waiting a few minutes, its grip on the paint job should loosen. That’s when you should use a plastic card to peel it off.

c) Use Boiling Water

Use Boiling Water

Here’s how you can remove car decals with boiling water:

What you’ll need?

  • One liter of water
  • Plastic scraper or spent credit card

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Step 1: Boil water

Then pour it over the decal. There shouldn’t be anyone standing nearby as you’re doing it. You may also want to wear insulating gloves if you intend to be on the safer side.

  • Step 2: Peel off the decal with a plastic scraper

You may also use a spent credit card for this purpose. It may take several attempts from your side to completely peel off the decal. That’s why you should be patient.

After You Remove Car Decals

After You Remove Car Decals

Here’s what you need to do:

Remove leftover residue

Regardless of how diligently you may have removed the car decal, some sticky residue may still reside on the car’s surface. Remove it by putting a few drops of a glue remover on a microfiber cloth before rubbing the fabric onto the glue residue.

Let the glue remover sit on the surface for a few minutes. Then use soapy water to wipe it off. You may have to repeat this process several times to eradicate the residue.

Apply a fresh coat of wax and polish

Remove any leftover dirt from the surface by lubricating it with soapy water and rubbing the area with a sponge. Let the area air dry for a few minutes before buffing the spot where the decal was with polish and a coat of wax.

You can find both these substances online or at your local automotive store. They will not only protect the area but will also keep any discoloration at bay.


Decals offer us a fun way to express our individuality and creativity. Business owners plaster them on their vehicles to improve awareness about their brand. Activists, meanwhile, exploit their utility to make people attentive to their cause. One can, therefore, not deny their usefulness.

However, as popular and useful as they are, decals do have one shortcoming: they can be incredibly difficult to remove after a few years. That’s why we came up with this guide to let you know how to remove car decals without ruining your car’s exterior or paint job.

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