How to Remove Glue on Plastic

Updated February 21, 2017

Many plastic objects have labels or other items adhered by some form of glue. Whether you want to remove a price tag or just dried, spilt glue from your plastic item, glue removal is possible. Today's cleaning products are varied, ensuring you will find a cleaner that can adequately remove glue from plastic. Cleaners that contain citrus ingredients remove glue from plastics. If your plastic item is washable, liquid dish detergent and water may be enough to remove the glue without the need for additional cleaners.

Place the plastic into a sink. Squirt an anti-grease formula liquid dish detergent over the glue. Allow the detergent to sit on the glue for about two minutes to loosen the glue.

Run warm tap water over the glue. If the glue is an epoxy, removal requires a little more effort. Gently chip and scratch the epoxy from the plastic surface with a butter knife. If your plastic can be safely twisted or slightly bent, doing so may break the epoxy, allowing you to chip it off with the knife easier. According to the Azo Materials website, "epoxies can have low peel strength and flexibility and can be brittle."

Use an eraser sponge product to scrub the glue; scrub in a back-and-forth motion. Wet the eraser sponge if the plastic surface becomes dry. If the glue persists, continue to Step 4.

Use a dish scrubber to firmly press and scrub in a circular motion over the glue on the plastic. Add water and more dish detergent to help break up the glue, dissolving it as you scrub.

Rinse the plastic. Dry the plastic with a dishtowel.

Place a dishtowel on a table. Place the plastic onto the dishtowel.

Cover glue with an oil-based citrus cleaner. Citrus cleaners are safe on almost every surface, especially on plastic.

Allow the oil-based citrus cleaner solution to saturate the glue for about three minutes. Older glue shows age by a browner, more brittle appearance. You may be able to lift the hardened glue from the plastic with the tip of a knife after the citrus cleaner has been on the glue without even needing to proceed to the next step.

Use a cleaning cloth or dish scrubber to scrub the glue in a back-and-forth motion on the plastic. If some glue residue still remains, repeat the application of an oil-based citrus cleaner; continue scrubbing and gently scratching the glue with a knife until the glue has been removed.

Rinse the plastic. Dry the plastic with a dishtowel.


School glue cracks and breaks down over time. Use a toothbrush to remove school glue from crevices and moulded details. Dip the toothbrush directly into undiluted anti-grease liquid dish detergent and scrub the glue. Rinse the plastic and then dry it. Glues such as silicone-based and rubber-based products require multiple attempts to remove them. The oil-based citrus cleaners cling to these gooey substances and dissolve the "goo," enabling you to wipe the glue from the plastic. Hot melt glues can be peeled away. Lift the glue with a knife and pull.

Things You'll Need

  • Sink
  • Liquid dish detergent (anti-grease formula)
  • Water
  • Butter knife
  • Eraser sponge
  • Dish scrubber
  • Dishtowel
  • Oil-based citrus cleaner
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Toothbrush (optional)
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About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.