How To Remove Adhesive From Wall Without Damaging Paint

adhesive residue on wall

Adhesives are no doubt convenient when you need to stick something to your walls. However, no matter how easy it is to use, removing adhesive from walls is no walk in the park. In the worst case, removing adhesives may damage the paint on walls. As a result, it’s not uncommon for any household to have stubborn residue from adhesives on walls.

But how do you remove adhesives from walls without damaging the paint?

You can remove most adhesives on walls with a simple solution of warm water and soap. All you need to do is take a lint-free cloth, dip it in the soap solution, and rub the area until there is no more adhesive left. This method will remove residue without any damage to the paint on walls.

That being said, not all adhesives are the same. Depending on the adhesive’s surface and strength, you may have to follow a different method to remove the adhesive from walls without damaging the paint.

If using warm water and soap is not an option, try these steps to remove residue from any wall.

7 Steps to Remove Adhesive from a Painted Wall Without Damaing Paint

1. Take a good look at the adhesive

Before anything, start by taking a close look at the adhesive. Depending on the type, you can follow different approaches to remove the residue without damaging the paint.

For example, if it’s tape residue, gently pulling with your fingers or using warm water and soap to soften the tape will help remove any trace of the adhesive on your walls. If it’s a heavy-duty adhesive, heating the area with a blow dryer or a heat gun will be more effective.

2. Use friction

The first step you need to follow when removing any adhesive is using friction. This first step will not get rid of all the adhesive on your wall. However, it will still help peel out most of the adhesive so that you can focus more on carefully removing any gunk left behind.

Start by peeling from one corner and proceed to get rid of as much adhesive as possible. Then, rub the area in a circular motion with a little bit of pressure. Keep at it until you get out as much adhesive as possible. Although this method is tedious, it’s effective when getting rid of adhesives from walls without causing damage to the paint.

3. Scrape it off

After applying friction, the next step is to scrape off the residue with a thin and sharp blade. And, it’s essential to do this with extreme care and minimal force.

Start at one edge and carefully drive the blade against the adhesive. Doing this will lift the residue, and you can use your fingers to pick it off. To minimize any accidental damage, make sure to keep your blade almost parallel to the wall.

If you’re dealing with less stubborn adhesive, you will be able to clean up your walls thoroughly with this step. However, there will likely be some leftover residue or marks on the walls afterward. These can be removed by rubbing the surface with soap and warm water.

4. Use warm water and soap

Using warm water and soap is one of the most effective methods against tape and sticker adhesives. As the solution dissolves the residue, it’s easier to use friction and get rid of everything without causing damage to the wall paint.

What you need to do first is mix soap with warm water. Dish wash is perfect for this purpose. Then, use a cloth or tissue paper to dampen the adhesive residue with the soap solution. You can also spray the area with a spray bottle. When the adhesive is soaked, use some dry tissue paper or your fingers to rub off the adhesive.

wiping wall with a cloth

FYI: It’s essential to pick a lint-free cloth when dampening the adhesive residue. Lint can get stuck in the adhesive and create even more of a mess.

5. Rub with oil

Oil is an alternative to using warm water and soap. Rubbing the adhesive with oil will dampen the residue and make it easier to remove. You can use tissue paper or a lint-free cloth to apply oil. However, keep in mind that oil may also leave stains. So, it’s recommended to use as little oil as possible.

You can use any common kitchen oils such as coconut oil or vegetable oil for this step. After removing the adhesive, make sure to clean the area with soap and water. Doing so will help get rid of any possible oil stains.

6. Apply heat to the adhesive

Heat is the next and final step to remove adhesives from walls without damaging the wall paint. And, this is an efficient method to get rid of all kinds of adhesives. You can use a blow dryer or a heat gun for this purpose.

The heat will loosen up the adhesive and make it easier to remove. So, what you need to do is gently scrape off the adhesive using a sharp and thin blade. As adhesives can harden once the surface cools down, scrape off the residue while applying heat.

Heat is excellent for melting up stubborn adhesive residue. At the same time, overheating can also damage the wall paint. So, always be super careful when using heat to remove adhesive from walls.

FYI: If you’re using a blow dryer, set it to high heat. A heat gun set at medium heat will also melt the adhesive without damaging the wall paint.

Here’s how to remove residue using a blow dryer and an iron –

7. Sand down the residue

If you’ve done all methods mentioned above and there are still residue, sanding it down is your final bet. When sanding, focus on removing the irregular particles of adhesive sticking out of your wall. After sanding it down, you can repaint the area. Your walls will look spotless, as if the adhesive was never there.

However, keep in mind that sanding should be your last straw. In other words, you should try to remove the adhesive using the steps mentioned above before you attempt this final step. Keep in mind that sanding, if not done with extreme care, can cause worse damages to your walls.

To do this step, take a piece of sandpaper or a sanding tool and gently start sanding the adhesive. Go over the parts that stick out and try to make them as flat as possible. Once you’ve leveled out the residue, repaint the area.


Adhesives toughen up over time. So, relatively new adhesives are easier to remove compared to older ones. To minimize damages to the wall paint, remove newly applied adhesives quickly in one motion. If the adhesive is old, ripping it off will likely cause damages to the paint on the walls. So, for older adhesives, following the above steps is the best course of action.

If none of these methods are working, you can also opt for rubbing alcohol or an adhesive remover such as WD-40 to remove residue. However, the effect of these chemicals can differ according to the paint. And, there is a chance that some may even damage the paint on your walls. So, before you apply the remover, dab a bit of the liquid onto a cloth and try applying it to a small area of the wall. If there is no damage, you can safely use the adhesive remover on your walls.


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