Cleaning Stickum Left From Vinyl

Just after the winter began winding down and the weather was beginning to warm up, I removed a large 30″ x 18″ vinyl sticker from the tailgate of my truck. No matter how much heat was applied, the back of the sticker refused to come loose. I tried everything, Goof-Off®, fingernail polish remover, paint thinner, gum turpentine, etc. Nothing seemed to work very well.

Finally, I used WD40®, it worked better than anything else — but it was still slow. After working almost two and one-half hours, I was able to remove about one-third of the decal debris, as you can see in this photo. At the rate I was going it would take a full day to remove the debris — not a pretty picture.

So I got this idea to use my handy Wen Model 7000 10 inch Random Orbital Wax Applicator (Home Depot special) to see if that would speed things up a bit. After installing a fresh NAPA® Polishing Bonnet and spraying it with a light coat of WD40®, I went to work.

The working area was kept moist with regular light applications of WD40®. After the polishing action saturated the stickum with the oil, I took a putty knife and CAREFULLY removed the top layer of stickum. I was careful not to use the knife directly on the paint, nor did I try to remove the stickum down to the paint — just kept to the top layer. This seemed to save some time as well.

All-in-all, I was able to remove the remaining two-thirds in less than an hour an one half. If I had used this technique from the start, the job would have been accomplished in about two hours — less than the time it took to get the bright idea to use electric horsepower instead of manpower!

Another side benefit is the shine on the tailgate from working the oil into the finish. Kind of like applying a french polish to metal. As you can see the results were successful. Now, I just have to figure what kind of sticker is going to fill the big empty space!

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