I have the problem that when I moved last, I moved from one end of the country to the other. When I had to vacate the flat I was living in, I didn't have a new place at my current location. Because of this I stored everything I owned with a moving company. They taped all my furniture with masking tape so the drawers would stay shut and the doors would stay closed.

My stuff ended up staying in storage for over two years in the end. When I finally moved it all to my new place the masking tape was dried out and brittle. I could remove most of it, but the glue stayed on the furniture. Or at other times, the tape seems to have fused with the wooden furniture.

Does anyone have a good tip of how to remove this, apart from scrubbing till your arm falls off (which might very well happen before the problem is resolved, because I gave that a good try) or scraping it off (which I also tried and gave my furniture some scratches)?

My furniture is hard wood, although I am not clear on the type it is, with some kind of varnish on it, to give it a smooth glossy finish. I have also no clue what exact varnish might have been used.

I live in Germany, so if you are suggesting specific products keep in mind, that I might not be able to buy things that might be common in your country. Although I am happy to have a look if I can get a German version or maybe order it over the internet.

  • If it has a smooth glossy finish, there is a good chance it is polyurethane. Also, since the masking tape left behind that awful crud that it is so often wont to do if it is left on too long, aside from abrasives the only remedy is solvents. So, there is always the option of sanding it off, but then you're going to have to contend with abrasions in the finish. And if it is urethane as is now sounds like it probably is, abrasions in that are tough to get rid of.
    – Mce128
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 9:01
  • Try some peanut butter...
    – jrw32982
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:42
  • If you found some solution useful, you should accept it.
    – Ariser
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 9:47

18 Answers 18


I have had good success with baby oil (just regular Johnson's baby oil). Layer on a goodly amount with a cotton ball. Then wait 30-60 minutes for the oil to soften the glue. Once it is soft try wiping the mess off with a microfibre cloth. Good luck.


Provided the finish is smooth, I've found a razor blade to work nicely.

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I've had success cleaning varnished, glass, lacquered, melamine, and epoxy finishes.

  • 2
    Not a bad idea. Just have to be super careful though. If you do scratch with a blade, it is likely to be due to overpressure and will likely be a bad gouge. But, so long as one is methodical and takes it slowly, yeah, I could see that being a good solution as well.
    – Mce128
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 4:17
  • Hit it with a heat gun / hair dryer to soften the adhesive first. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 20:56
  • I'd also consider plastic razor blades as a safer alternative to metal blades e.g. scraperite.com I haven't used these yet, but I'm planning to get some for my next job where I need to scrape something off a potentially delicate surface. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 19:39

I tried everthing mentioned and it stayed stuck. Then had a brainstorm; steam it off. So got out steam iron and a wet cloth and steamed it. It was off in minutes. Eureka! I think the heat softened the glue but it was the simplest idea ever! And right there in the cupboard. So proud of myself. Lol

  • 3
    Reading your idea helped me think to use a garment steamer to remove tape residue that was stuck to an automobile i owned. I'd tried several other things, spending a couple of hours doing so, to little avail. With the garment steamer to heat it up, though, and a credit card to scrape it off, i was finished in about twenty minutes!
    – JaredC
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 5:28

Perhaps something "low tech" would work: try saturating the spots with a drop or two of olive oil and letting it sit for a few minutes before scraping with your fingernail.

  • 1
    I use vegetable oil all the time and it works. It will even take those awful stickers off a coffee mug!
    – gracey209
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 12:56

It would depend on what type of finish is on the furniture. If it is an enamel, some kind of solid material laminate or polyurethane finish, then you're most likely golden! You can just use a product like "goof off" or "goo gone" and that will take it off nicely and won't harm a typical polyurethane finish. Now, that said, I would still test a spot to make sure it won't harm the finish in case it is actually some other polymer.

If it is a more traditional finish, you could try these, but there is a good change of disrupting at least the finish if not the stain as well. If you are really careful you can keep that damage to a minimum or possibly if you lightly dab for some timeframe around forever, maybe not even at all. But again, test it first! You never know, you might find it is compatible with whatever other finish type was used. But always test in some non-obvious place. Also, if you do damage the finish, sometimes you can repair that with various "refinishing" products that you can find at your local hardware store. Incidentally, you can also find "Goof Off" and "Goo Gone" at a typical hardware store as well.

Good Luck!

  • Thank you very much! My furniture is hard wood (although I don't know what exact kind) with some kind of varnish on it, as it has a glossy smooth finish (again I don't know the type of varnish). I don't think I will be able to buy the products you have mentioned unless they have a german version as well, as I am living in Germany, but I can look into that. You would not have an idea that is based on more common ingredients? I'll also edit my original question to make it clearer!
    – Elsi
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 8:27
  • 1
    Goo gone is available over the German Amazon website, so I might give that a try! Thanks again :)
    – Elsi
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 8:35
  • I'm so glad Germany has goo-gone too!
    – chicks
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 19:51
  • It is a really handy solvent for very many things. I've even used it for solvent welding some types of plastics.
    – Mce128
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 1:03
  • 2
    @Elsi Instead of potentially ruining the finish, you should test the product first. Find a discreet spot on the furniture where a blemish would be hard to notice, but still has the finish on it (on the bottom or inside of the furniture often works, or where other pieces of the furniture overlap with the wood), and test there. If it works, great! If not, at least you learned that without damaging anything.
    – Gwen
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 3:33

One of my favourite methods removing glue residue from tapes is using another tape. It involves no solvents and thus cannot harm varnish.

I use to take some piece of tape, place it over the glue residue and pull it off. sometimes it is better to pull it fast, if the residue is rather hard. If the residue is soft, pulling gently may be better. I made the experience, that it doesn't make a big difference if you rub the tape onto the residue, or not. But the outcome may vary. You will have to do this several times, depending on the age of the residue.

I prefer to use duct tape, because its glue is soft and thick which lets it grab even irregularily shaped glue residuebut other tapes may work, too. Beware of cheap tapes as they sometimes loose their glue, worsening the situation.

A piece of tape may be used several times depending on its type and amount of dust on the surfaces.

If that doesn't help you can still try cleaners based on orange oil. Those have removed any tape residue I met! But be aware that orange oil is a powerful solvent, so test it on a covert spot. A brand available in a typical "Bioladen" is "AlmaWin"


I stupidly used masking tape to stick SD cards to my desktop so I wouldn't misplaced them. Only meant to leave it for a day or two, but a month later when I was ready to use them there was tape residue on the cards and desktop border. WD40 on a cotton ball wiped the residue off the cards without and desktop with no damage to either. And it was instantaneous!

  • WD40 has already been offered as an answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 12:06

I had masking tape residue on my glass window that was 2 years old. Goo gone and baby oil did work. NAIL POLISH REMOVER removed the dried adhesive in an instant!


You can use paint thinner to remove the glue, but be careful, it may harm the surface, so try it on a hidden spot on the furniture first before removing the glue


100% best product for removing old tape residue is petrol. Put some on a rag ,rub it over the old tape,lightly rub or scrape, then wipe over again with damp petrol soaked rag . 100% gone . Make sure petrol can no where near working area and obviously no naked flames 😀👍 Also Wd 40 works but nowhere near as effective as petrol.


I use liquid cigarette lighter fluid to soften and remove dried-out tape adhesive of all sorts. it is fast, but dangerous, bad-smelling, and not good for your skin.


I had sticky glue residue of masking tape on window and body of car due to a window replacement. Thinners for the window and then my sister surprised me by saying to use Doom (mosquito spray) . Worked like a charm .. had to soak it for about a minute ... it is also used to remove tar from body of a car.

  • Doe that spray contain Deet? That will dissolve most things.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 15:16

I recommend soaking the offending tape in any of the following: (in order of weakest to strongest) methanol, isopropanol, acetone, or either xylene or toluene. Keep in mind that all of these give off rather nasty fumes, being strong solvents. Besides that, they should get your tape off rapidly, especially if you opt for xylene or toluene.

Please keep in mind though, that any of these products is likely to strip the paint and/or varnish off anything you use them on.

Another thing you could try (though I can't guarantee it'll work) is to liberally paint turpentine on the aforementioned crusty tape. Again, it will probably strip your varnish off, but shouldn't damage the wood underneath.

I know someone mentioned solvents already, but these solvents are readily available in most countries (rather than the proprietary Goo Gone and Goof Off, which may or may not be available depending on where you live), with the notable exception of maybe Poland, seeing as even diethyl ether is regulated there.


I had good experience with vinegar ("Essig Essenz" in german), a natural product from the supermarket, which helped removing even the baddest stickers and such.


I had the misfortune of very strong masking tape from B&Q. It did not peel from metal or glass! Soaking with WD 40 helps, then scraping larger bits. Small crud can be removed with a microfibre cloth.


I have the solution.

After much trial and error using MANY products including but not limited to, Dawn dishwashing liquid + hot water (works on vinyl coving mastic), Goo Gone (both types), acetone, Pinesol, and a number or other products, here is what worked without removing the stain on a pine frame:


It worked perfectly and left the stained wood intact. It also worked on a painted aluminum surface without damaging the pair. A real miracle. TikiTorchFuel


On a wooden surface, to remove adhesive residue without any harm, try vegetable oil, oil soap, or furniture oil (not waxes like Pledge). I recently was able to successfully and fully remove a very old, tattered sticker (with adhesive much stronger than that on masking tape) from a built-in wooden shelving unit using (diluted) Murphy's Oil Soap and very little effort; I've also removed other mysterious marks and stuck-on stuff with the same soap. I've used vegetable oils on other surfaces in the past, and furniture oil (Old English is the brand I have) also has advice for removing stuck-on messes on the label.


I've found that (undiluted) dish washing detergent often works well with some adhesive residues. I suggest leaving it to soak in for a little while first.

A gentle scrub with a pot scourer may also assist (although be sure not to use anything too harsh - I suspect that a metal one might scratch the finish). You could test it on the finish somewhere that isn't too visible first.

FWIW, I was going to suggest some sort of solvent, but others have beat me too that (with nearly every solvent known to humankind suggested :) Again though, if you go with one of those, be sure to test it somewhere that won't be visible first (in case it eats into the finish).

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