Removing Masking Tape Adhesive

Updated February 12, 2018

Masking tape is made of easy-to-tear paper that is backed with a weak adhesive for easy removal. People use masking tape before painting to cover areas that should not be painted and sometimes to hang lightweight paper items. To remove tape immediately after painting, peel it off slowly at a 90-degree angle. If the paint has dried, then use a razor blade to cut the tape loose, so it does not pull off any paint.

Removing Dried Tape

If masking tape has thoroughly dried onto a surface, especially if a lot of time has passed, it may take a little work to remove the adhesive. Several techniques can remove masking tape adhesive, but test any solvents on a small area first to make sure they do not damage the surface. In addition, use a plastic scraper rather than metal, to avoid scratching surfaces. Leave any solvent on for about 10 minutes so it has time to thoroughly soak the adhesive.

Heat and Soapy Water

Two easy possibilities can be tried first for removing masking tape adhesive. One is to warm the tape or adhesive with a hairdryer or a lamp to soften it. If it does not scrape off easily, try using warm water and a little dish soap or washing powder and let it soak before scraping.

Lighter Fluid

Lighter fluid usually removes tape adhesive. If possible, drip a little fluid in between the tape and the surface, then slowly pull the tape away. Continue adding drops of fluid onto the exposed adhesive.


Oily products are good at removing tape adhesive. Mineral oils, such as household or baby oil, often work, and vegetable or olive oils also are possibilities. Even peanut butter can remove masking tape adhesive, particularly because the ground peanuts are slightly abrasive.

Additional Solutions

Several other solvents you may already have around the house can remove masking tape adhesive as well. WD-40, Lestoil, Murphy's Oil Soap, rubbing alcohol and orange oil all are worth a try. Also, commercial adhesive remover is available in several different brands; some are designed to remove all types of tape residue, and others also are for additional problems, such as tree sap and tar.

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About the Author

Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.