how to remove decals from a car without damaging the paint

How to Remove Decals from a Car Without Damaging the Paint

Whether you have changed your mind about the band pasted all over your car or suddenly find it too childish, or you want to sell your car, you will have to strip your car of the tattoos and restore it to its original state. But there is the fear of damaging the paint.

But don’t worry; we have got your back. If you are wondering how to remove decals from a car without damaging the paint, follow the tips listed below.

How to Remove Decals from Car Without Damaging the Paint: 5 Ways


Image source: Pinterest

Decal removal is not easy. It can chip your paint and leave a residue of adhesive that attracts dust and dirt and destroys the aesthetics of a car. However, if you follow the decal removal methods listed below, you won’t have to worry about your paint or adhesives.

1. Use Heat to Remove the Sticker

First off, remove all the debris on and around the sticker to avoid scratching. Do this with a sponge and soapy water. Once the area is free of all dust and debris, you can proceed with the following steps:

• Heat up the decal with a blow-dryer at its maximum heat setting (make sure the dryer does not touch the decal as it can leave a mark).
• Heat it for a good two minutes, and make sure every part of the decal, especially the corners, is properly heated.
• Without wasting time, start scraping off the decal edges with the help of a plastic debit card or rewards card (do not use blades or knives, as they will scratch the paint).
• Once the edges are released, you can peel off the sticker. However, some adhesive residue will still be left.
• To remove the adhesive, you can use any store-bought adhesive remover products like Goo Gone or your pantry product white distilled vinegar. Apply it on a piece of cloth and rub it over the adhesive residue. The adhesive will come undone, and you will be left with a clean surface.
• Thoroughly clean the area to remove any residual adhesive or adhesive removal product. Completely dry it as a prep for waxing.
• Apply a layer of car wax as it will protect the paint and prevent chipping.

Heat will loosen the adhesive and make removing the decal relatively easy. If you don’t have a dryer, you can heat the decal using hot water. However, the process is messy, and it may take several attempts to properly heat the sticker.

Also, if the decal is very old, and you are sure the heat won’t be able to remove it, you can skip the blow-drying part and directly use a commercial adhesive remover. Soak the decal in the remover for a few minutes and peel it off with a card.

2. Dremel Tools or Electric Drill

If you have a full vehicle wrap or a large decal, using the above method can be very time-consuming and tedious. In such a case, you can use electric tools like a Dremel or a drill. Also, if you are not able to remove a small decal using the first method, try to remove it using this method.

You can attach special discs that are available to these electric tools to remove decals, pinstripes, and stickers. Once you have attached the disc to the tool at hand, follow the following steps:

• Clean the car surface thoroughly to strip it of all dust and debris. This is extremely important when you want to protect the paint. You can either use a sponge and soapy water or specialized car paint cleaners.
• Blow dry the edge of the decal so that it loosens up.
• Once a small edge is loose, use your drill or Dremel to make your way through the entire length. Do it slowly and patiently so that you do not damage the paint.
• Once done, follow the steps described above for adhesive removal and wax application.

3. Kitchen Cleaners

If your decal is relatively new and not very stubborn, you can easily remove it using mild cleaning agents from your kitchen, like dishwashing liquid. If not, you can also use shampoos and conditioners. To clean with kitchen cleaners:

• Dilute the cleaner (1:1) you are going to use with water.
• Apply the solution over the decal and let it soak for a little while (30 to 40 minutes)
• Start pulling at the edges. If the sticker starts peeling off, remove it. If not, let it soak for another 15 to 20 minutes.

4. White Vinegar

People frequently incorporate white vinegar, a versatile cleaning solution, into numerous cleaning hacks. It is also an environmentally friendly solution that will cost you much less than commercial adhesive removers.

The application of vinegar is similar to that of kitchen cleaners. Just apply the liquid and let it stay for a few minutes. The sticker will absorb the vinegar, and this will loosen the adhesive.

Now you can remove it with a plastic spatula or card. If it does not come out easily, let it soak for a few more minutes.

5. Razor Blade to Remove Decal from Car Windows

When dealing with windows, you do not have to worry about damaging the paint. You can use razors to remove the decal. But make sure the razor stays away from car paint.

To remove the decal, loosen the edges with the razor. Once the edges leave the surface, peel off the decal.

You can also use nail polish remover for the windows. It has chemicals that will aid in detaching the decal from the glass, but the same chemicals can be very harmful to the paint. So take care that the polish remover does not come in contact with the car paint.

Tips for Next Time

You never know when you may start liking stickers and decals again. You also never know when you will need to remove them. Remember these expert tips to avoid being in a tight spot the next time.

• Apply the decal on the window and not the paint.
• Apply the decal to a bumper magnet and the latter to your car. So, if you have to remove it, simply remove the magnet.
• Clean, dry, and wax the surface before applying a decal.

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