Sometimes you get carried away with stickers. Sometimes your tastes change. It’s tough to remove a tattoo, but not too difficult to remove stickers!

This guide will cover how to remove stickers and clean sticker residue off your bike frame and fork.

Assess the Situation

There are different types of stickers and decals you may encounter.

There are common stickers and vinyl decals that you probably applied yourself – or perhaps a previous owner did. Bike shops usually apply their own logo sticker on the seat tube on every new bike they sell. These can be removed.

But there are also factory graphics, such as the manufacturer’s name and logo. These will have been applied to the bike beneath the clear coat. If you try to remove these, you’ll almost certainly ruin the paint job, and potentially damage the frame itself. So for this, you’d want to try a vinyl wrap or similar tape to cover up rather than remove.

How to Remove Stickers

My favorite method for sticker removal is to apply heat. I’ve used this technique to successfully remove stickers from bicycle frames, bicycle rims, and car windows.

It’s by far the best method if you’re dealing with vinyl decals (which are impervious to normal cleaning supplies). In most cases, you can remove decals in one piece, with no residue!

You will need:

  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Plastic razor blade

Instructions:

Grab a heat gun or a hair dryer and slowly heat the sticker you would like to remove.

When it feels warm, take your plastic razor blade and try to peel up one of the corners. If it won’t budge, heat it up a little more and then try again.

If you can’t find a plastic razor blade, you could try using an old credit card instead. I do not recommend using a metal razor blade – or anything with a metal edge – because that is more likely to damage the paint job or scratch up your components.

If it’s a big decal, work gradually. Heat a small section, peel up that section, and repeat, until completely removed.

It depends on the decal, but sometimes they’ll peel up easily and leave little to no residue. But if it does leave residue, have no fear, I have instructions for that too.

How to Remove Sticker Residue

Sometimes the stickers are worn out and it’s just the adhesive that’s left. Sometimes you get most of the sticker off except for this one sliver of adhesive.

Here’s how to remove that leftover sticker glue.

You will need:

  • Goo Gone adhesive remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Water
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Soft cloth or sponge

Instructions:

Caution: always test these substances in a small area first. Preferably, somewhere inconspicuous.

Begin by applying the Goo Gone to the remaining sticker residue. I like the put the Goo Gone on a cotton ball and then rub the cotton ball on the residue.

With the cotton ball, I can apply the Goo Gone exactly where I want it, and nowhere I don’t. You can also apply masking tape over nearby paint or other stickers, to protect them.

Let it soak for a while and then try to wipe it off. Sometimes it will wipe off with just a rag or paper towel. If it gives you trouble, try using a little elbow grease.

You may need to repeat this process 2-3 times for best results.

(Adhesive removers like Goo Gone are ideal. They are designed to remove sticky residue without damaging anything underneath it. And they’re relatively safe to handle. There are other household items that can work, such as WD-40, nail polish remover, or even lighter fluid, but those are too strong and/or unnecessarily dangerous!)

Once you have removed all the residue, give it a final cleaning with some water and Dawn dish soap. Then it should be completely clean!

Dry with a soft cloth and apply a coat of polish to any painted surfaces.

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2 Comments
  1. how is WD-40 dangerous? I use it on everything!

    • @Burt

      WD-40 is not particularly dangerous, but it is overkill for this situation.

      If used correctly, and cleaned up immediately, it shouldn’t remove paint or do serious damage like that. But what happens all too often is people spray on the WD-40, it drips onto another part of the bike, and that section doesn’t get cleaned, so that section gets discolored or stained.

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