Wall decals can quickly, and easily, add your personality to a bedroom without redoing an entire wall. On the other hand, if you’re renting an apartment, removing stubborn stickers can take a lot of time and patience. Not to mention, will removing vinyl wall stickers damage the paint underneath? Afterall, not all wall decals are designed to stay on your walls for long periods, possibly leading to the adhesive to soak into your paint, making it harder to remove. Luckily, here are some easy ways to remove decorative wall stickers without damaging your paint or walls. Best of all, most of these methods involve using everyday items around your home.

Six methods to remove wall decals without damaging your paint or walls

Your first step is identifying the adhesive used. If you’re dealing with a rigid vinyl with no give whatsoever, chances are you’re dealing with a strong adhesive like a super bonding glue, which may involve heat removal. However, if you’re dealing with pliable and soft vinyl material, you might just use soapy water.

Adhesive marred walls can result from decals, tape, stickers, and other sticky products. Simply painting over the residue without cleaning it first can result in a blotchy appearance. You should ensure your wall is thoroughly cleaned before putting on a fresh coat or going through a final inspection with your landlord. Not to mention, if you’re using the wrong tools for the job, you can end up with damaged walls and possibly lose your security deposit.

  1. How to remove wall stickers with a hair dryer

Removing adhesives from painted walls can be tricky. Luckily this trick is super simple and uses something that you might already have: a hairdryer. The hairdryer method might be the easiest way to remove your vinyl decal without damaging the paint or the wall itself.

Simply, turn your hair dryer on the highest setting and hold it one to two inches above the sticker or decal’s surface. The heat will slowly melt the glue and loosen its hold on the wall. Once the decal is warm to the touch, begin gently lifting the decal from its edges until you can pull the decal, or part of it, off the wall. Repeat this process until the vinyl decal is completely removed from the wall.

A steamer, iron or heat gun will also do the trick. Place the steamer or iron one to two inches away from the wall and allow the steam to warm the adhesive for about five minutes. If you are still stuck with some sticky residue, simply grab an acetate-based cleaning solution, like nail polish remover, and scrub it off with a cloth or sponge.

  1. Remove wall decals and stickers with soapy water

If you still have leftover residue, a simple solution of soapy water is another trick worth considering and a less invasive method. Make sure to use a soap that’s free of fragrances and other additives like bleach. Dish soap will be your best option and is already a fantastic degreaser for even things like dry-erase decal calendars. Add a few drops of dish soap to warm water, then apply it to the decal with a cleaning cloth to loosen up the adhesive. Once removed, then clean the area where the vinyl or sticker once was.

  1. Removing soft adhesives with WD-40

If the residue is still a pain to remove, it’s time to step it up a notch with some WD-40. Even though this product is typically used on cars and other machinery, it’s still a highly effective solution for removing stickers from drywall and other surfaces. This method works not only on eliminating sticky substances left behind but also directly on the sticker itself. Once applied directly, allow the solution to soak into the decal for some time before wiping it away. Once removed, clean the area with warm soapy water to get rid of any grease like residue left behind.

Vinyl wall stickers translating "love", "believe", "faith" in multiple languages

  1. Peel away wall stickers with olive oil or baby oil

Like WD-40, olive oil safely removes wall stickers without damaging paint as its oily composition helps loosen up sticky material. A small amount is all you need to begin to wipe at the sticker’s edges to get it going. If you happen to be removing a dry-erase wall decal, let the olive oil soak into its thick membrane for several minutes before gently removing the sticker. If you don’t have olive oil, baby oil can also help dissolve the adhesive. Then use a sponge or paper towel to scrub off the remaining adhesive after 20 minutes of soaking. Clean the wall with soapy water afterward.

  1. How to remove wall decals with rubbing alcohol

If you still haven’t found the best option for removing wall decals, your next solution is rubbing alcohol. One method you can use is applying rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and apply it to  the sticker. Rubbing alcohol also removes stickers from glass surfaces, like windows, and even cleans the window with a streak-free shine. You shouldn’t find a trace of the sticker at all. Here’s a DIY glass cleaning solution for wall decals:

  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  1. Tools for removing wall decals and stickers

Why are some of the ugliest stickers hard to peel off? Sometimes when your wall decal feels impossible to get rid of, you might need extra tools to finish the job. Here are some handy supplies for removing wall decals without damaging your walls:

  • Putty scraper
  • Glass scraper
  • Tweezers
  • Spray bottles
  • Plastic razor blade

While using some of these scrapers or blades, make sure you’re not digging into the wall. Instead, apply some pressure to scrape the gunk off the top of the surface. Use circular motions, using enough friction to remove the sticker gently. Tweezers are handy for gripping small corners and edges of decals on walls.

Tenants adding touch up paint after removing soft adhesive vinyl stickers from the wall

How to repair wall damage from stickers

Posters, decals, and stickers come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Some are made from hardened polythene paper, others from cardboard attached to lamination, among many other variations. Removing them may result in damage to your walls. Luckily, fixing a damaged wall is a simple task with all the right tools. Before you begin with any repairs, here are some tools you’ll need:

  • Drywall paste or spackle
  • Putty knife
  • Dry cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint
  • Primer

Repairing drywall in four steps

  1. With some sandpaper, scrape off any loose paint and any bits of drywall cement expelled from the adhesive. Sand all the rough edges and raised surfaces flat.
  2. Fill in any divots with drywall paste using a putty knife. Add any additional layers of drywall paste if needed till the new surface is nearly flush with the rest of the wall. You may need to wait for the putty to dry before adding more layers.
  3. Once your patchwork is completely dried white, it’s time to sand down any imperfections, so the patchwork looks like the original wall.
  4. Clean the wall from dust before adding a coat of the appropriate primer and paint.

You can always begin removing your decal with the first method and work your way down until the stubbornness of stickers finally surrenders. Either way, you have everything you need to remove your decals and protect your walls and possibly your security deposit.

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