How do I remove self-adhesive stamps from envelopes?

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Self-adhesive stamps are made with a special glue that does not require wetting or dampening before placing them on an envelope. To remove a self-adhesive stamp without damaging it takes a few steps, but it is possible to pull it from an envelope with a little patience.

Developed in 1989, self-adhesive stamps are made with a water soluble adhesive and coated so the stamp is not destroyed completely by water.


Before you decide to remove a self-adhesive stamp from an envelope, take a pair of scissors and trim around the stamp. Leave a 1/2-inch border around the stamp. This gives you enough paper around the stamp to hold on to when separating the stamp. Not leaving enough border will make it difficult if not impossible to remove the stamp.

Using a Solvent

Bestine is a solvent that helps remove self adhesives. The glue behind the self-adhesive stamp requires a strong solution to separate it from the envelope. Bestine is difficult to find, and substituting nail polish remover will do the trick. Lightly rub Bestine or nail-polish remover on the back of the paper with the stamp. The paper will become translucent as the solution soaks through both the envelope to the stamp. Slowly begin separating the stamp from the envelope. If the stamp will not separate add more Bestine or nail polish remover until the envelope paper is fully soaked.

Soaking or Steam

After trimming the paper around the stamp, in a small bowl filled with water add a drop of hand soap. Place the stamp in the bowl and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Try removing the stamp by soaking after you try steaming. Depending on the adhesive glue, steaming may work better than soaking. The soaking method is better for stamps that are not self adhesive. After soaking, some stamps will naturally separate from the paper. If not completely separated, place the stamp in bowl of cold water and slowly separate the paper using tweezers.


Once your stamp is removed from the envelope either by using nail polish remover or by soaking, let it fully dry. Placing the stamp on paper after it has been removed will cause it to stick to that paper, so be careful and place the stamp sticky side facing up. Allow the stamp to fully dry. Drying takes four to six hours. To check dryness, hold the stamp between your thumb and index finger and feel for any dampness.