How to remove adhesive residue from stained wood

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether it's a few drops of permanent glue or the remains of tape or stickers, leftover adhesive can be tough to remove. When you're dealing with stained wood -- such as flooring, cabinets or furniture -- you'll want to use extra care to avoid damaging the finish. In most instances, a little scrubbing with an oil-based product will lift the adhesive residue. Always test the product in an inconspicuous area of the wood before using it on visible areas.

Spray furniture polish directly on the adhesive and rub it gently with a clean cloth. It may take several applications of the polish to remove the gunk -- if you notice it lifting, keep working at it.

Apply a small amount of nail polish remover to a cotton swab. Rub it over the adhesive to soften it, then gently scrape it away with your nail. This method is effective on permanent glue. Wipe away any remaining nail polish remover with a damp cloth.

Apply a small amount of mineral oil to the affected area, then scrub it with a clean cloth. Wipe away any leftover oil once the adhesive has lifted.

Apply a commercial adhesive-removal product that's deemed safe for use on wood products. Apply the product as directed and wipe away any leftover residue with a clean cloth.


Rubbing alcohol, petroleum jelly, vegetable oil and glass cleaners can also be effective at removing adhesive. It's important to clean up the residue of whatever product you use to remove the adhesive because it could damage the wood if it remains on the surface for an extended period of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Furniture polish
  • Clean cloth
  • Nail polish remover containing acetone
  • Cotton swab
  • Mineral oil or baby oil
  • Commercial adhesive removal product
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About the Author

Amy McClain has worked as both a feature writer and a copy editor for a prestigious daily newspaper. She also enjoys writing as a hobby and takes creative writing courses in her free time. She has worked in sales and marketing for a wireless company for over seven years.