How to Remove Packing Tape

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You'll find packing tape in different colors and qualities---some thicker and stronger than others. No matter how thick or strong, all kinds of packing tape are very sticky and often not easy to remove. Packing tape adhered to metal surfaces can be especially difficult to remove. There are some tricks to getting the tape off any surface with minimal damage---you can remove the tape even if it has been stuck for several weeks, months or even years.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Box knife/razor knife
  • Wd-40 or an adhesive remover spray
  • Cloth

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Slide a razor knife (box knife) blade beneath one corner of the tape and pry the corner up as much as you can.

  2. 2

    Spray a little WD-40 or a commercial adhesive remover spray on the upturned edge. Use WD-40 if the tape is on cardboard, as WD-40 evaporates quickly and is less likely to stain, allowing you to re-use the box.

  3. 3

    Gently pull on the corner. It should give a little. Don't force it (if on cardboard) or it will rip the material. If it is on a hard surface, such as metal, you can pull harder. If using a commercial adhesive remover, you may have to wait a few minutes for the solvent to work (but when they do, they work rather well). WD-40, on the other hand, starts working right away.

  4. 4

    Spray WD-40 or adhesive remover all along the tape's edges and again on the upturned corner. Grasp the corner firmly and start peeling it back. Spray it with more product if necessary until you've removed the entire length of tape.

  5. 5

    Carefully scrape off any remaining tape with the razor knife. Wipe off residue with a damp cloth. If the surface is washable, use soap and water.

Tips and warnings

  • WD-40 and many adhesive removers are flammable and should be used in well-ventilated areas (and away from flame). If the packing tape is stuck to a plastic surface, be careful what kind of adhesive remover you use, as some may damage plastic. WD-40 is usually fine for temporary use on most hard plastics. If the packing tape is stuck to a painted surface, it may not be possible to remove the tape without removing some of the paint with it. Avoid using adhesive removers in this case (because they will dissolve paint) and try to remove the tape using the knife blade alone and a small amount of WD-40.

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