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How to Remove Car Decals Without Damaging the Paint

How to Remove Car Decals Without Damaging the Paint

Car decals or car stickers are graphics, letterings, or images that are printed on a self-adhesive vinyl material. It has a lot of variety such as clear vinyl decals, perforated decals, opaque vinyl decals, high adhesive decals, and vehicle letterings. A lot of people use car decals to express their creativity while some use them for business purposes like advertisements or company logos. Others put decals on their cars to show support for their favorite sports team, favorite band, or even for their chosen political party. These decals are usually placed on the car’s glass and rear bumpers. They can be spread all over the car’s exterior depending on the design. However, these graphics or stickers don’t really last forever. They’ll fade and you’ll want to remove them. Or maybe you just grew tired of them. Whatever the reason is, the steps or ways on how to remove car decals yourself are pretty easy. 

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How to remove car decals from the vehicle’s body


Removing a car decal from the body of the vehicle requires a more careful process than the ones placed on the glass. It is because the glass is more resilient than the car’s exterior paint. With the paint being more prone to damages, it would require a lot of process to successfully remove car decals from the paint thoroughly. Here are some of the things you can do and use to remove it. 


Removing decals with an adhesive removal spray 


Step 1 – You can start by assessing the car’s surface. If your car has many decals on it, keep in mind that each one of them have different artworks and trim that require different attention levels.


Step 2 – Clean the decal and its surrounding area with water and soap. You will need to do this first since your decal might have some dirt build up, grime, or debris on and around it that can scratch your car’s paint as you scrub and remove it. Using a clean cloth or a sponge, wash the decal with soapy water and clean the dirt and grime away. 


Step 3 – Remember to work in sections. You can start in one corner and you can work your way across it. Shake the adhesive removal spray bottle and apply on the decal for about 2 to 3 inches away from it. Allow it to soak for more than a minute. 

Step 4 – Remove the decals and repeat the process if necessary. You can then proceed to clean your car with a clean, soft, and dry cloth using little pressure. Do the same process as you remove the other car decals on your vehicle. 


Removing decals with a hair dryer and old plastic cards


Step 1 – First things first, clean the decals and the areas surrounding it with water and soap.


Step 2 – Using a hair dryer, proceed to warm the decal up. This loosens the adhesive at the back of the decal, helps to release it and lets you pull it out easily. Make sure that you distribute the heat throughout the decal evenly and also heat its edges. Do not let the hair dryer touch the decal or the paint because this can leave a mark. Just keep it at around 5 to 6 inches away from the decal. Refrain from using a heat gun for this process since it can damage your exterior paint. Using a hair dryer is the safest choice. 


Step 3 – Once the decal is warmed up, you can scrape it immediately with an old credit card or any hard plastic card. Peel at an angle and around all its edges. If you have successfully peeled off the decal’s edges, you should be able to use your fingers to remove it. Repeat the process if necessary.


Step 4 – Clean the area, let it dry, and wax it. This will help protect or preserve your paint since the decal on that area has been removed. 


Removing decals with white vinegar


Step 1 – You will need to get a bottle of white distilled vinegar. You can usually find this in your kitchen or pantry. All you have to do is soak the whole decal with vinegar using a brush or paper towel. 


Step 2 – Wait for a few minutes until the vinegar loosens up the decal’s adhesive. You can then proceed to remove it using old plastic cards. You can add more vinegar if necessary. 


Step 3 – Clean or wash the area to wipe any vinegar residue off, allow it to dry, and wax it.


Removing decals with boiling water.


Step 1 – This method usually works for newly applied car decals. To do this, you will have to use some protective gears to keep you from burning yourself. You just have to wet a cloth with the boiling water and soak the decal for about a minute or two. 


Step 2 – Try to remove your car decals, you can peel its edges for a start. You can use more hot water as you work on removing all the decals. 


Step 3 – Clean, dry, and wax it. 


Removing stubborn car decals 


The steps on how to remove car decals are usually easy, but there are decals that are hard to remove. The decals that have been on a vehicle for a long time are normally the ones who are stubborn and are tedious to peel. To remove this type of decals, you can use some special adhesive removers, solvents, WD-40, kitchen cleaners, hair products like shampoos or conditioners, and dishwashing liquids. Just make sure that you use the mild variety when you opt to use the said products. Harsh ones tend to damage your car’s exterior paint


There is also another way to remove the stubborn car decals easily, it is by using a decal eraser wheel. Decal eraser wheel is an eraser disc that is used with an electric drill. It can remove decals without scratching or damaging your car’s paint. Remember to always wear protective gears when you use or operate a power tool like an electric drill. To remove decals using a decal eraser wheel, follow these simple steps. 


Step 1 – Clean the car’s surface first and make sure that there is no dirt build ups or grime on the decal and its surrounding area. 


Step 2 – Attach the universal arbor that is included in the eraser wheel to your pneumatic or electric drill. Choose the most appropriate disc to do the job since these discs come in many sizes and varieties. 


Step 3 – Loosen the edge of the decal by using a hair dryer. When it loosens, you can then proceed to use the drill by applying light pressure. You can start from the top of the decal and work your way down by moving from left to right until you get to the bottom. For best results, you can set your drill at 1500 to 3000 rpm. You can use the entire width of the decal eraser wheel and refrain from tilting it on an angle if you want a faster result. Just make sure that you don’t rush the process to keep you from doing any damages on your paint.


Step 4 – Use a solvent or any mild cleaning products to remove any residue. 


Step 5 – Wash and clean the area, let it dry, and apply wax on it. 


Using a decal eraser wheel is not recommended to use in removing decals on lacquer paints, acrylic, lexan, soft plastic substrates, plexi-glass, and non-OEM finished surfaces. It is also not safe to use on uneven surfaces. 


How to remove car decals from the car’s windows and windshield

There are some stickers that are required to be placed on your car’s windshield and you have to renew or replace it year after year. It can be difficult to peel those stickers off but there are some ways to make the process easier. Here’s how. 


Removing decals using a razor blade and a window cleaner


Step 1 – Clean the glass thoroughly by applying a window cleaner on the decal and the area surrounding it and wipe it with a soft cloth or microfiber towel. This will remove the dirt and provide a smooth surface for you to stroke the razor blade easier across the glass. 


Step 2 – Hold the razor blade at a 30 to 45 degree angle at the edges or corners of the decal. Apply gentle pressure as you work with the blade moving inwards toward the center. This allows the decal adhesive to be peeled off from the glass. This step requires a lot of patience and control as you work your way through the decal. 


Step 3 – Remove any remaining decal adhesive by spraying with a window cleaner and by wiping it away. Then you can proceed to buff the area with a dry, soft cloth to smoothen the glass.


Many are still doubtful if it is really safe to use a razor blade on your car’s glasses. There is no problem in using it as long as you scrape it at an angle. You also have to make sure that it is clean, sharp and free of rust. Any flaws found on the razor blade can scratch the windshield and windows. You can only use razor blades on the glass parts of the car and not on the exterior paint.  


Removing decals using some materials found at home. 


There are many cleaning products at home that you can use to effectively remove car decals. One of them is rubbing alcohol. You can use it to loosen the decal adhesive on your car window or windshield. All you have to do is apply rubbing alcohol on it and wait a few minutes. Once it’s loosened up, you can proceed to peel it off with your hands or by using a razor blade. Nail polish remover can also be used to remove decals on the car’s glass. Another thing you can use is ice. Place and hold an ice pack over the car decal for a few minutes. This will cool off the adhesive that will allow you to peel it off easier using a razor blade. You can also use WD-40 or a product called a Goo Gone to get rid of the decals and the adhesive residues. Just let it soak for a minute or two and peel or wipe the decals off.   


How to apply a car decal properly

Learning how to remove car decals and doing it successfully doesn’t mean that you are not going to apply new decals on your car anymore. To make sure that you won’t have a hard time taking it off the next time you change your mind about it, you can learn how to apply it properly. This will help you remove car decals a little easier. Here are some of the tips and steps you can do.


  • Refrain from putting car decals on the bumper. Putting it on a window makes it easier to remove the next time. 
  • Clean and apply a layer of wax beforehand on the area where you are planning to put the decals on. This will make the removal process easier.
  • You can choose to use bumper magnets when you want to put stickers there. You can customize or create your own removable bumper stickers. It is a more practical choice since you can just remove it anytime you want. 
  • Don’t put decals on trim pieces as this might block the edges making the removal a difficult process. 
  • Do not put any decals on areas where the temperature gets hot like the hood and the tailpipe. This can cause the decals to melt and burn the finish. 



There are many reasons why one chooses to put car decals on their vehicles. No matter what the reason is, it is always good to plan in advance what designs you will use and how you apply it since the process on how to remove car decals can be a challenge especially if you have used special vinyls that could last a lifetime. You can search online or consult a professional if you have any questions and doubts about it. 


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