Duct tape is a wonderful product for making things stick together. It often will leave a sticky mess after you separate whatever you used it on.

How do I remove the duct tape mess from my car without damaging the paint?

Additional Information

I have tried using a scraper in the past, but that will usually scratch the paint badly. Sandpaper will also work at removing the mess, but again it damages the paint. I have used acetone in the past, but since it is a paint remover, it only makes sense that it will damage the paint.

  • I haven't tried anything yet. I was thinking about using the car to air dry some items without causing permanent damage. Except for the residue left by duct tape, it seems like the perfect solution. Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 4:06

4 Answers 4


I use grease. Something thick and oily is helpful, because it adheres to the fibres of the tape and makes it hard for it to attach to a surface.

Some people say use gasoline or other oily substances.

I looked around and found I had the following options. WD 40, Olive Oil, Carnauba wax. The WD40 did not work for me. What did work was to repeatedly soak the area in olive oil, then rub aggressively with a microfiber cloth and then I put carnauba wax on top of it which finished the job. The oil and wax slowly dissolved the tape glue. It took repeated rubbing over the area. In my case it took 45 min. but it got all the tape residue off and the finish was fine.

The below comment may ruin your paint, so no.

Here are the things I tried that you guys suggested for the duct tape removal, baby oil, lighter fluid and wd 40 - no luck! I didn't try the vegetable oil or peanut butter. Here is your solution: Nail Polish Remover Easy, hardly any elbow grease was used. Works Beautifully, don't bother with anything else.

So I would say first scrape the tape off and then use some sort of grease(carnauba wax, mineral oil) to get the final sticky pieces with it.

  • 2
    Scraping can be a bad idea.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 19:38

The residue left behind can be removed with rubbing alcohol and a soft rag. Little rubbing should be needed.

WD-40 also works to counteract the adhesive and help the residue come off, also rubbing with a soft rag.

Reference: http://www.ehow.com/way_5136188_way-tape-residue-car-body.html


It won't damage the paint unless the car needs a new paint-job. It will leave a residue, however, which you need to remove. You have to use a solvent for that. Don't use a scraper, as that will scratch, and can cause conditions for rust to develop.

If the paint is loose, you cannot remove the tape without removing a little paint also.


If you can peel up enough of a corner to get a grip with pliers, you can then use ice, cold gas/canned air (upside down), etc. to freeze the adhesive, and peel the tape off when the adhesive weakens from the cold. Once the cloth part is off, kerosene, WD-40, or even peanut butter do a fine job removing the adhesive that's left behind.

Assuming you're careful with the pliers and use something soft (like a Bondo applicator, about a dollar at the parts store) to scrape up the corner where you start, this won't do anything to common auto paints.

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