39

I travel a lot, for both business and pleasure reasons. One of the annoying things I face (beside full passport pages) is the many tags stuck to my suitcase which I like to take in almost all my trips. I recently had to give up my favorite 12 years old Samsonite hard-shell suitcase because it was too ugly and I could not remove the tags easily.

This is a photo of one of my other suitcases which is not really old and does not have many stickers:

suitcase with numerous old tags

I know that the best way to get rid of those is to remove them while they are fresh (eg. right after arrival) when the glue still not really dry, but I just keep forgetting and by the time I notice that tags are really stuck and won't be removed.

How do I remove old tag stickers from hard-shell suitcases completely?

  • Wrapping the suitcase in plastic would make this job easier - simply remove the plastic and off come the stickers. – Burhan Khalid Jan 18 '15 at 5:16
  • 2
    Print out, on an A4 paper, "stick it here" (that's what she...). attach this paper with some scotch-tape to your luggage next time. Honestly, it worked on my leather traveler's bag – Renae Lider Jan 19 '15 at 19:33
  • Note that by now there are a lot of suggestions (answers), but whether these work (well) will depend on the type of glue used on the stickers. And since there thousands of different adhesives, it will remain a case of trial and error. Make sure to try a little of the solvent on the bottom of the case first, to check if it does not damage the suitcase material. – Jan Doggen Apr 24 '17 at 15:41
  • No help for you of the pristine luggage persuasion, but having stickers and such like on there makes your suitcase more easily identifiable and probably less likely to be stolen, in my opinion. – Spehro Pefhany Apr 24 '17 at 20:18

15 Answers 15

28

One thing I use and are available easily is, ahem, Alcohol. A few drops and rubbing tight can clean the stickers very easily

There are many alternatives too. WD-40, anything with acetone, Goo Gone, etc.

As Dan Neely points out, be cautious when using acetone because it can melt some plastics.

  • 16
    I'd be cautious about using acetone; it can melt some plastics... – Dan Neely Jan 17 '15 at 17:34
  • 4
    In my experience, gasoline works much better than alcohol in removing adhesive. – Federico Poloni Jan 17 '15 at 23:39
  • @FedericoPoloni You should expound and post this as an answer. Even in my experience petrol is the best way to get rid of adhesives. – happybuddha Jan 18 '15 at 22:08
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    A lot of things can attack plastics. The suitcase is probably ABS, for what it's worth. But any adhesive remover should be tested on a non-important spot. – Jamie Hanrahan Jan 19 '15 at 1:25
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    I'd be cautious about WD-40 - it contains some amounts of oil and oil can be very bad for plastics. – sharptooth Jan 19 '15 at 11:41
17

I find this stuff works extremely well on any paper labels (not so well on plastic labels) ...

enter image description here

... available from many places (e.g. Maplins in the UK and from any Servisol stockist)

10

You can use very hot water, the coarser (dark green) side of a dishwashing sponge, and quite a bit of elbow grease to scrub the sticky part of the tape/stickers away. This might be a very time consuming operation depending on how many such stickers you have to clean off.

If the suitcase is tough, and you are not afraid to scratch it, you can increase your effectiveness by using either the back of a box cutter blade (left) or what is called a Venetian plaster spatula (right) to scrape away the stickers (images from Amazon and Wikipedia):

enter image description hereenter image description here

10

I have yet to meet a label that didn't yield easily to Goo Gone. Beware that I've found some printing on packaging that also wipes off with it.

  • Agreed. I have found it to be an excellent solvent for almost any glue or gum, though it can also dissolve some plastics. Its citrus aroma is also very pleasant. – Erik Kowal Jan 19 '15 at 2:29
10

I think labels vary in their adhesive systems employed, so there is no one 'right' answer. I can't speak for the proprietary products mentioned in other answers, as I tend to avoid spending money on these when a common chemical will do the trick, but trying the following should remove most labels:

  1. Peeling carefully and slowly - works sometimes with adhesives that don't bind permanently to plastics. The sooner after label application the better, before the adhesive 'closes'
  2. Moisten with water, hotter the better.
  3. Moisten with alcohol
  4. Moisten with white spirit (or if desperate, gasoline)
  5. It is unlikely that any of the above will damage what's below the label - acetone sounds a bit drastic.
  6. Abrasion with rubber or fingers.
10

I've found that using medical adhesive remover (like this one) works to remove stickers.

enter image description here

I happen to have a bunch lying around that I've never used, but you can order them from Amazon (they're not expensive; if you look, you'll probably find something cheaper than I did).

10

Olive oil worked well for me. Just let the sticky residue soak in it for a bit before rubbing it with a cloth.

Another product I have tried is a sort of a cleaning eraser. It works well, but it also requires quite a bit of rubbing

(source)

8

Remove them as soon as possible, they become harder to remove over time.

Use a hair dryer to warm up the stickers, this "softens" the glue (at least for some types).

Pull very gently so as not to tear the stickers apart, and give the glue time to separate.

As a last resort, use alcohol, acetone or another organic solvent to dissolve or weaken the glue.

6

Nail polish remover, of which the principal ingredient is Acetone, is a general purpose solvent, and works well on many organics such as glues. If you have diabetes, especially type 1, your urine might work too (due to Acetone). You might want to check that it won't dissolve your suitcase too.

6

Converted from a comment to this answer. Since we are all sharing Grandma's secret stain remover tricks: in my experience, gasoline (AE, petrol in British English) works much better than alcohol to remove adhesive residuals.

5

I have successfully removed labels using water and a cloth to remove the paper exposing the adhesive than using white spirit on a paper towel to remove the adhesive.

5

Food Safe Mineral Oil to protect kitchen woodenware works great and doesn't remove any coating...I just tried it on my new Samsonite luggage

4

Heat the areas to a point where the glue melts but the plastic doesn't, then slide the sticker off. Best things to do this with are a blowtorch, some hot coals, an open fire or a really good heater.

Alternatively bathe your suitcase for a few hours (perhaps even overnight) and then put it somewhere nice and warm to dry off.

  • 1
    A hair drier will work. A hot blower gun might work even better. Both might cause the plastic suitcase to melt. So the trick becomes to apply heat for short periods of time. – JoErNanO Jan 19 '15 at 12:55
  • @drat A hair drier would work and you would be less likely to melt the plastic, but logic dictates that it would probably take a fair bit longer depending on the power of the hair drier. Chose your tool based on your own skill and patience. – Pharap Jan 19 '15 at 17:44
3

Just removed plastic document sleeves with sticky back plastic which were stuck on expensive suitcases. Used a hair dryer to heat up the plastic then slowly and carefully peeled, removing the lot in one go by teasing the plastic away from the case (this took about 10 mins - A4 size sticker. I then used regular olive oil to remove the sticky residue left behind, let it soak in for a few seconds before rubbing off. The suitcases are back to normal with a new shine finish!

2

I used White Spirit on my Polycarbonate luggage and it worked very well. No damage to luggage.

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