I have just retrieved my walkie-talkies from the big storage box where they lived for the last couple of years. The rubber/rubberized components (grip coating, dials, etc.) have gone very sticky to the point of the devices being unusable except with gloves.

In another answer, alcohol is proposed for removing the rubber coating of a PC mouse; however, I‘d like to keep the rubber (especially since almost the whole volume dial is a single rubber component, so dissolving it seems inadvisable) and just remove the "stickiness" or maybe the top surface layer, if that’s feasible at all.

Can anyone help with an idea?

  • 6
    In my experience, nothing works. You can wash and wipe it all you want with all you have (alcohol, detergent, etc.) - the best you get is removing the liquid oily stuff from the surface... temporarily, because more will ooze out soon enough. And even without the oily stuff, the rubber is sticky. I also tried grinding away the top surface layer, only to find that the layer below is just as sticky and oily.
    – Headcrab
    Sep 25, 2018 at 2:23
  • I just had this problem with the entire base half (including legs) of my Audio Technica turntable. I discovered that most of the sticky stuff can be rubbed off with polyethylene bags (such as old grocery store bags). Just keep changing the part of the bag you're using, and rub each area in multiple directions. For the last of the stickiness, Linda's idea of painting with matte medium sounds like a good option for preserving what's left.
    – Bloopy
    Feb 22 at 5:17

20 Answers 20


I have had good results when using talcum powder on sticky rubber and plastic surfaces. This is not a solution that takes away the problem but it may work just enough to make your walky talky usable.

Apply a light dusting and rub it out till you have covered the whole of the sticky area.
Instead of talcum (which often comes with strong perfume or as baby powder with a reasonably strong smell) you can use a very fine ground grain product like rice flour (very fine grounded rice) or corn starch or maize starch.

Be careful to keep the powder out of the casing as it is fine enough to mess up the inside.

  • 1
    I want to chime in with more success stories; I've fixed the nice rubbery surface on ThinkPads and other laptops (seemingly permanently, or at least for a reasonably long term) using simple talcum powder. Even the discoloration is negligible once you've fully distributed the powder and blown away any excess.
    – KlaymenDK
    Sep 26, 2018 at 12:01
  • Adding onto this as well -- I've tried this on a black rubberized coating with great effect, even after washing off the excess with water! Just note that it may leave a slight silver sheen on the coating, which could be more pronounced (~= whitish discoloration) around bumps/embossed areas.
    – zhongfu
    Jul 15, 2021 at 16:59

The components you describe have deteriorated and are in the process of decomposing into organic residue. The process is a natural part of the usable life span of an organic compound. It is not reversible and probably not profitable to even try to arrest the process.

Your options are to discard the device or try to replace the affected components. If the parts are bonded to the more stable plastic chassis, you effectively have a museum display until the device has the appearance of a melting gel.

This is the downside to using VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). You might also consider this a related aspect to an engineered life span. Often, electronic devices are up-graded so often and by such a degree that replacements work better and are cheaper than the equipment it replaces. Sometimes this is not the case, however.


I found an old microscope with extremely expensive lenses that seem better than any ones I've ever used. The rubber base of the scope is sticky and it has sat in a closet for decades. It was like black taffy. If you can't beat them, join them. Ethanol made the surface even more sticky. Then I took a black plastic garbage bag, cut it to fit over the sticky area and pressed it into the gooey mess. Problem solved. If I was patient I could rub the wrinkles out.

  • 1
    I revived an old mouse - the old one died - and to cover up the sticky parts I cut thin cloth to size and it glued itself. on. I was very happy and the mouse looked interesting. Oddly enough, after a few months the stickiness ceased to stick and the cloth peeled off and the mouse was no longer sticky.
    – RedSonja
    Apr 22, 2021 at 9:12

I have a really good car, but apparently it was manufactured when low-quality plastic was in vogue. As an artist, I have a bunch of products, so I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained. I painted over the sticky bits in my car - and also on a portable DVD device with Matte Medium. It completely covered up the stickiness. I don't know how long it will last, but it is working great now. It looks cloudy, but it dries clear. There is a gloss medium, but I don't recommend it.


In addition to the other valuable answers, you can consider covering the sticky parts with tape, depending on how much you care about the aesthetic. I did this once with an extension cord that got a few patches of utterly unremovable driveway tar on it.


this sticky rubber is in fact a pulverised material on the surface of your walkie-talkie. With time it tends to melt.

You can use alcohol to remove it completly from the surface.

Here is an quick youtube search on how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO8AcON4p08

  • This is indeed the only solution to the sticky rubber problem. The outmost layer of rubber has permanently lost some chemicals, and the only solution would be removing the layer.
    – Qeeet
    Nov 3, 2020 at 17:07
  • 1
    Very hard to rub off, done it many times, and it will happen again as the rubber decomposes. Nov 15, 2020 at 22:19

I've just saved a interactive pen for a world globe that was rubber coated it was so sticky I couldn't handle touching it and kids wouldn't use it All I did was make a paste of baking soda and a little water I carefully rubbed it on left for a couple min and wiped off no more sticky at all


I used Baking soda with a little water to make a paste worked for me. I applied it with my hands and cleaned with a moist cloth towel, all black sticky rubber came off. Some areas required more work, but this solved the problem.


I've had this happen a couple of times. One of them was important enough for me to want to fix it. I used White Spirit or Turpentine to clean it off with LOTS of kitchen towel. It took the surface back to the bare metal. It still remains slightly sticky to this day, but I'm sure that another few sessions of cleaning will remove the last residues.

I also think that you can probably try some sort of dry powdery material that will stick to the gunk and form a new coating. Something akin to poppy-seeds maybe - but preferably non-organic. I've not tried this myself but it seems like it might work.


I used GOO GONE with a nylon brush then wiped it down with alcohol. It worked great for me.


Well I just tried a couple of combinations from above. I have a retro phone I plugged into my iPhone and it got hot so the rubber started to deteriorate. The magic was three squirts of Goo Gone on a terry cloth towel and working that in. Followed immediately with baking soda, water, and toothbrush. Then wiping that off with clean towel and warm water. I repeated that process 3 times. Then at the end, I wiped the phone down with isopropyl alcohol to remove any last tid bits of whatever and sterile it. It looks brand new. When using the baking soda, put some effort behind that toothbrush. The Goo Gone loosens that sticky residue but it was the baking soda scrub that removed it. Once may not do it so keep the process going. I saw it coming off like a label or sticker glue. And by no means let Goo Gone sit on the device. It will probably destroy the coating entirely. Into to rubber goo literally. Only use it to begin loosening the residue. Thanks everyone for the pointers and I hope this helps.


I tried vegetable oil, paint thinner, acetone, and isopropyl alcohol, and none of those worked on my sticky ASUS laptop. That is what did NOT work for me. It seems that many post remedies that they have not actually tried out.

Then I tried Cabella's food grade silicone lubricating spray (that I use in my meat grinder and dehydrator to prevent sticking). Significant improvement; sticky is 75% gone. And since the silicone is food grade, I can finally lick my computer and all of the problems it gives me! Surface is still a bit sticky, but way less than before. Of course, with the silicone, the shelf liner option is gone because it won't stick.

Further progress: I decided that evil chemicals sold by capitalist corporations were not the answer, not even dihydrogen monoxide, so I got something that is organic, gluten free, non-GMO, antioxidant, detoxifying, alkaline, and natural. ArmorAll Tire Shine, also a silicone formulation. Spray it on, rub it in, let it dry, and then wipe the surface with a cloth. Sticky is 99% gone. Applied a second coat, smeared it around by fingers, and let it dry overnight. Sticky is no longer a problem! That is what worked for me.

Now I wonder if it is a good idea to use this stuff before the rubber starts to decay...


to make rubber soft, mineral oil is milled into the rubber material before it is molded into shape. With time, that oil segregates itself out of the rubber matrix and bleeds out onto the surface of the part. This is the source of the stickiness: too much oil mixed with rubber on the surface.

To wash off the sticky stuff you need a solvent like cigarette lighter fluid, but note that it's just a matter of time before more oil arrives at the surface, and the part gets gooey again. This plasticizer desegregation process is unstoppable.


Paint it. Mask it up with tape and newspaper, use the cheapest can of spraypaint you have, and just paint it. Pic below; items I have salvaged successfully this way include:

  • Heat gun with rubber surface
  • Generic computer mouse with rubber surface enter image description here This works so well that I suspect that the acrylation "drying" of the paint binder progagates to also polymerize the oily chains that make up the goo (can anyone support/refute this?). The goo is a perfect paint primer!

Another solution: sunshine (UV light) to oxidize and "dry" the goo. I have done this to those cloth work gloves that have the blue rubber on the palm side that got super gooey. I left them out in the sun a couple days and the goo darkened and hardened in place. You see the same thing happen with some rubber bands: first they decompose to goo that ruins your item, then the goo hardens to a crust as oxidation takes place (yes/no chemically anyone?).


Clear nail Polish. Just paint a thin layer and let it dry. Problem solved

  • 1
    Have you done it and how long did it stay on?
    – Willeke
    Mar 25, 2021 at 9:11

Here’s a solution that hasn’t been posted on this thread:

Use melamine foam. Sometimes they’re sold ( for a lot more ) as “Magic Erasers” but they’re just pieces of white melamine foam, and inexpensive to buy.

Of course, you don’t want to cause any water damage but a slightly moistened piece of melamine foam worked wonders on removing that sticky oily rubbery film off an old solar-powered lantern. The surface was left smooth and dry.


Xylene, a rag and a fair amount of elbow grease seems to work well for removing the rubberised layer.

  • 2
    Indeed Xylene will remove the rubber completely, along with half the ozone layer. But the question asks how to make it less sticky, not how to remove it.
    – Chenmunka
    Oct 17, 2020 at 17:26

Dry paper towels until they breakup and stick to the rubber then keep going until chunks of paper and stickiness are gone.


I tried all of the above. Turns out the best thing to use was fruit and vegetable wash. I used Fit organic. Cleaned up like a boss.


My remote was super bad, like ultra sticky, I used a product called "Gumption Multi Purpose Cleaner" - got it off super quick with hardly any effort!

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