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How To Remove Stickers From Books

Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

You know when you get a great book but the cover is marred by a terrible sticker? So you peel off the sticker, but it either refuses to budge, or leaves a terrible, sticky residue? Or, worst of all: The sticker must remain in place and be a terribly placed sticker?

We did some very scientific research to find the best ways to remove stickers from books. We tested a bunch of methods, and maybe one of these will work for you.

Oh, a word of caution: Please pay attention to the cover treatment used on the book you’re trying to de-sticker. If it has a matte/soft-touch/velvet-y feel, the grease and goo from the sticker will probably not budge. If it’s a more paper-y cover, be careful with how many liquids you use to get the sticker off, or you may strip the cover right off.

How to Remove Stickers from Books

Hair Dryer

I have to level with you. I did not think this was going to work. I thought my book was going to catch on fire as I carefully heated it up.


How to remove stickers from books

Just look at this beauty. There are a few spots with sticky residue left behind, but the sticker came off in one pull. Magic, y’all.

How to remove stickers from books with a hair dryer: Start peeling an edge of the sticker off while aiming your hair dryer at the spot you’re working on. The dryer is heating up the adhesive in the sticker. Peel gently, and the sticky residue should soften enough that the sticker comes off in one gloriously satisfying piece.

Be careful not to burn your hand as you peel! Take breaks when needed, if the sticker is especially sticky!

If there’s anything left behind, use one of the following methods (probably nail polish remover or Goo Gone) to clean up the sticker mess.

Goo Gone

Goo Gone was my go-to before the hair dryer epiphany. It’ll make your book (and hands and house) smell citrus-y for a bit, but it’ll really get rid of the sticky residue.

How to remove stickers from books with Goo Gone: Peel off as much of the sticker as you can, and then use a cotton swab dipped in Goo Gone to rub away the goo, gently.

How to remove stickers from books

This book had a matte finish, so the end result was a bit greasy after the Goo Gone. But, hey, better than a big, ugly sticker!

Rubbing Alcohol and Nail Polish Remover

You can try these if you want, but it’s not going to go well.

How to remove stickers from books with rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover: Peel off as much of the sticker as you can, then use a little cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to rub away the sticker goo. This option is best saved for a last resort.

How to remove stickers from books

This book had a more papery, gritty feel to it, and the sticker did NOT want to come off. The rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover started to make the ink from the sticker run, and the more I scrubbed, the thinner the cover got, until I rubbed a hole in it. Whoops.

Lighter Fluid

I do not have lighter fluid, and honestly am a bit afraid of it, so this comes from another seasoned Rioter and sticker remover: “Lighter fluid will loosen the sticker and clean up any yucky residue. It works as well as Goo Gone, but less grease. It will, however, dry out your hands.” If that’s your jam, go for it.

Now go forth and be merry with stickerless books!

We are professional book nerds here at the Riot, and if you have something bookish you’ve been hankering to learn to do, we got you. Check out our How-To archive for things like how to tell if a book is a first edition, how to keep up with new releases, how to wrap a book, how to overcome your biggest reading fears, and so many more helpful guides.