• LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.


Book Care and Repair

Join LibraryThing to post.

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Mar 23, 2007, 4:28pm Top

I too buy a lot of used books and many of them are library discards and stickers upon stickers on them. Does anybody know how I can remove these without hurting the covers? And where I've been uninspired enough to try to unstick them myself how I can remove the sticker residue?

Mar 23, 2007, 4:42pm Top

Once the sticker is off, using a a little rubbing alcohol or lighter fluid to get off the goo will work on glossy covers. (Be careful, stay away from flames)

Mar 23, 2007, 5:01pm Top

>1 Fey:
There are products on the market for removing stickers, some of which are used by libraries. A library supply outfit (such as Gaylord.com ) will have such things. I haven't used any enough to make any recomendations, however.

Keep in mind that lending libraries generally do not look upon book preservation the same way as a collector, so a product that is acceptable for preparing a book for re-shelving may not be acceptable to a collector.


Mar 23, 2007, 6:22pm Top

Sometimes, if you can peel off the top (glossy) layer of the sticker, gentle application a soft (art gum type) eraser will remover the residue underneath. Works OK on glossy dust jackets, but could cause damage if the surface texture is rough or flat.

Mar 23, 2007, 11:30pm Top

Alcohol or naphtha (lighter fluid) may work, but probably will also dissolve the printed matter under the gummy residue. You can also use "Goo-Gone", available at grocery or hardware stores.

None of these will work on matte paper surfaces, only glossy covers. To remove sticker residue from matte surfaces, you'll have to use mechanical means, like a rubber-cement eraser available at art supply or office supply stores. Or you can make your own rubber-cement eraser by spreading a good supply of rubber cement on something glossy (paper, plastic, glass, metal) and when it is dry, rub it off, creating a small ball of dry rubber.

Mar 23, 2007, 11:41pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Mar 23, 2007, 11:49pm Top

On the non-porous dust jackets, and glass, metal, plastic -- mayonaise. Leave it about 5 minutes.
Hear me now, but believe me later.

Apr 10, 2007, 8:26pm Top

My boss recommended "Un-du" to me. It's a bottle of this gel adhesive remover and it comes with a plastic spatula to scrape up the residue. Makes removing price tags fairly easy.

Apr 14, 2007, 2:24pm Top

I would use a product designed for removing adhesive dressings like Band-Aids. In Britain there is one called Zoff that does the job very well - there must be equivalent products elsewhere.

Jun 12, 2007, 3:39am Top

Baby wipes are good for removing sticker residue.

You could try make-up removers, which are basically baby wipes with a higher price tag.

Edited: Jun 14, 2007, 10:11pm Top

The worst place to by used books is a university bookstore. Aside from being overpriced they are so afraid of being ripped off (I guess) that they cover the used books with stickers that are nearly impossible to peel off (ever) without ripping the book itself. I can almost understand - this way no one can get a new book and put a "used" sticker on it and get a discount. Not that the used books are marked down enough to make a difference. They buy them back from students for a 5th of the price and the students who buy it again will end up buying a book that has only been 5-8 % from the new book price. I will try some of those methods. It had always frustrated me that I have to buy an overpriced book that has been previously used and I can't enjoy the book as it is, they have to deface it too. As a student I feel taken advantage of everytime I go there, which is why I have begun to buy all my textbooks from Amazon.

sorry for the rant - it's a sore spot with me.

Jun 15, 2007, 8:36am Top

11> you can usually get some great deals on text books used from half.com...

Jul 7, 2007, 11:40am Top

I know it's already been mentioned here, but Goo-Gone has always worked great for me. Most of the books I've purchased where getting sticker residue off was an issue have glossy covers.

Edited: Oct 10, 2007, 6:37pm Top

Un-Du really works but use it in a well ventilated area. Goo Gone works great on certain types of materials but Un-Du works on just about anything.

For the sticky residue left behind when you can actually peel a sticker off, I use the back of the actual sticker to "blot" the residue. With short, quick motions, use the sticky side of the sticker to blot the residue until it is no longer effective, usually five or six times. This can remove much, if not all, of the remaining sticker adhesive and you won't have to use as much fluid to complete the treatment.

Edited: Oct 10, 2007, 5:22am Top

Most of the products recommended here are unfortunately unavailable where I live. Alcohol and make up remover didn't work and I don't know how to make mayonaise :). I have found something called EDK Adhesive Remover the other day and I thought I'd give it a try. It works fine, even on mat surfaces. In fact I think it's designed for mat surfaces. It's no more than a softer eraser I suppose, or the "art gum" that someone mentioned before and it costs only ~$2.

Oct 27, 2007, 11:41am Top

Almost all stickers are put on with an acrylic adhesive. This is the same pressure sensitive adhesive found on labels, scotch tape etc...

You can lift it with HEAT from a clothes iron or quilting iron or even a hair drier.


there are 2 things will dissolve it and NOT harm anything else.
1 Naphtha which is Lighter Fluid
2 Heptane found in Bestine Solvent and Un-Du

anything stronger may dissolve the glossy coating or the inks. anything greasier - like goo be gone may harm the paper.

Bookplates and bookseller stickers are put on with gum based adhesives which can be lifted with water or Stamplift.

Rubber cement however when fresh only contains rubber & heptane, when the heptane evaporates it leaves only the rubber which will oxidize(dry out) and sometimes stain the paper. you can try to remove it with HEAT. however if it is OLD you may have to pick it off.

Oct 27, 2007, 11:42am Top

un-du is heptane
and costs more then the same amount of Bestine which is heptane.

Un-du charges you for the clear bottle.
and you may have trouble finding it
as the state of California has been fining the company for importing it into the state.

buy Bestine, it's cheaper and easier to find.
art supply & craft stores have it.

Oct 27, 2007, 8:40pm Top

I avoid those solvents for cheap reading copies. Except when I'm very lucky, that's all that will have a sticker, anyway.

After peeling off the sticker, I just use an eraser to rub off the remainder. I use a Sanford Magic Rub, which I have found to be far better at this than regular pencil erasers, Pink Pearl, art gum or kneadable ones. The results aren't pristine; some residue just gets smeared. But the book stops sticking to its neighbors and that's all I really care about for such books.

Oct 28, 2007, 3:27am Top

I've used Un-Du to get rid of the ridiculous piles of university bookstore stickers someone was mentioning earlier.

I wouldn't doubt that it's probably highly overpriced for what it actually is, but I get a bottle in my stocking every christmas, and it works great for me.

Oct 29, 2007, 11:19pm Top

Years of heat guns and Goo Gone (13 years in video stores, 7+ in libraries) and Un-Du is my first choice. It even gets rid of those awful paper, think previously viewed from Blockbuster, type stickers. I'll have to check out Bestine. Thanks for the tip.

Jan 9, 2008, 2:07pm Top

In the UK there is a product called "Sticky stuff Remover" (literally!) that I have been using for years. While books are not specifically recommended on the bottle it doesn't seem to do them any harm in the short term. I'm unsure however about its pH or long term effects. It's made by a firm called Mykal, and it may also be available elsewhere in the world.

Mar 28, 2008, 10:57am Top

I think so highly of Bestine that I've been using it as a screen name for over a decade. Before that, I used gallons and gallons of it over the years to clean wax, spray-mount and other adhesives off production art in the pre-computer graphics/paste-up sweatshops of my youth. It cleans up virtually all sticky messes without stripping the polish off your nails... It is also just flat astonishing for removing crayola marks from vintage children's books -- or walls. ;-)

It also removes stickers from **most** plastics without melting the plastic beneath (I once had bad luck trying to remove a label from a plastic mayonnaise jug, but no trouble at all removing vinyl lettering from event banners).

You can get it at art supply stores (here in Houston, I patronize Texas Art Supply) or online.

Mar 31, 2008, 6:36am Top

Thanks for this Bestine. A lot of my books come from library sales, so have a wealth of stickers on them, and indeed many have crayon marks.

Edited: May 6, 2008, 9:23am Top

Another vote for Bestine - been using it for years. I used a q-tip type cotton swab and apply along one edge, then gently lift the sticker by the same edge while moving the swab back-and-forth to loosen the glue as I'm peeling towards the other edge. Works like a charm. Clean up any remaining residue with the remnants on the q-tip and a cotton cloth.

May 6, 2008, 11:46pm Top

Just FYI, I made a page for Sticker Removal on the Wiki:


It just summarizes what's here.

Nov 6, 2008, 11:04am Top

I know this is an old post, but someone just recommended me to this group when I was complaining about library stickers on some lovely books I just found. I am now a member of your group and will going shopping for adhesive removers this week. This is such a great post!! It's nice to find other people who are interested in retaining the integrity of their books. I'll have to peruse the rest of your posts and will probably find that I have many more comments, thanks, and suggestions to add.

Thanks again!

Nov 6, 2008, 11:54am Top

Welcome, PirateColey!!

Nov 6, 2008, 12:09pm Top

I love this post as well - almost all my books are second-hand and I hate those defacing stickers! On the advice above I borrowed some heptane from my lab and it worked beautifully!

Mar 7, 2012, 7:26pm Top

What about on paper? I tried removing the library card pocket on an inexpensive book...

I was thinking that steaming might work. Anybody tried it?

Mar 7, 2012, 7:52pm Top

It's not likely to work. The paper will weaken more than the adhesive will dissolve.
But, you ~could~ try using an iron on it...
I make no guarantees, as I've not done it myself, but it seems to me that this might at least have a chance of working.
Remove as much of the pocket as you can so you have a single layer left.
Presuming the card pocket is on the free endpaper, open the cover, place a terrycloth dishtowel over the page.
Spray water on the dishtowel to prevent scorching and apply a preheated iron to it.
Give it about thirty seconds and check - probably nothing happened in that amount of time, but better to be cautious.
Reapply, especially the water. Possibly adjust the heat.
Let us know how it works.

Edited: May 24, 2012, 12:55pm Top

22 josiasporter: Thanks, just got some Sticky Stuff Remover and those Blackwells labels I gave up on just floated straight off. Only problem is that there is a slight smell after removal, so you have to be really careful to wipe all the stuff off.

May 24, 2012, 10:53am Top

Oh! I'm glad you revived the thread. I've got to try Bestine to clean up crayon scribbles in some old books.

May 24, 2012, 12:54pm Top

Let us know how you get on!

May 24, 2012, 1:00pm Top

Yup, stickers are a real pain. Mostly I just try to rub them off - the residue glue that is. Please let us know if you have a better solution.

May 25, 2012, 7:27am Top

This Sticky Stuff Remover works really, really well, BarkingMatt, though the slight residual smell of petrol does mean you have to take care to clean the book thoroughly when dry. I could wipe the book afterwards with whisky, I suppose!

Edited: May 25, 2012, 1:50pm Top

No smoking while you're doing it. ;)

May 25, 2012, 1:21pm Top


May 25, 2012, 1:45pm Top

# 36 Remember that Scotch is for cleaning and Kentucky Bourbon is for drinking.

May 25, 2012, 2:03pm Top

Actually I happen to be partial to some Irish whiskeys - hope that okay too.

May 25, 2012, 3:01pm Top

I would gladly take any of the "Glens" right about now!!

May 25, 2012, 7:17pm Top

I am reminded of the caution for using Ronsonol lighter fluid. Many booksellers use it but I'm a little concerned about residue left if there is a petroleum odor lingering. I prefer to use Bestine rubber cement thinner (mentioned earlier in this thread). I was recently on a book buying/selling trip and needed to remove some stickers before I could offer the books. I finally found some lighter fluid at a grocery store and used it for the first time in years. The result was OK but there was an odor lingering for a while. They seemed Ok afterwards.

Since you can get Bestine in gallon cans, it is probably cheaper than Un-Do and the like.

Library pockets' glue doesn't soften with these solvents. I've not found ways to remove them without it being obvious.


May 26, 2012, 10:17pm Top

>42 Keeline:
Ronsonol lighter fluid was the recommended fluid for identifying watermarks on stamps when I was collecting as a kid. I recall my Scout advisor for my philately merit badge showed me how. We didn't know as much about inhalation of volatile organic chemicals back then, I suppose.


May 27, 2012, 11:35am Top

Any of these solvents should be used in well-ventilated areas. I think that a group interested in books would at least glance at the warning labels these days.


May 27, 2012, 12:30pm Top

It depends where you come from and what you smoke / inhale anyway ;-)

Edited: Jul 3, 2015, 3:34pm Top

I have noticed that Sticky Stuff Remover also acts as a solvent for the red and green ink used for older Loeb dustwrappers!

Mar 31, 2013, 7:14pm Top

WD-40 works a treat-u can buy in a pen format which makes for very precise application

Edited: Sep 3, 2014, 6:44pm Top

After removing at least two thousand stickers from book covers I can say that my favorite tool is a very thin paring knife. We rub off any adhesive that's left with our thumbs. (The residual adhesive comes off easier if you wait a day or two before you try to rub it off). If there's still residue after rubbing, we apply a drop of GooGone with a Q-Tip. We've found that letting the GooGone sit for 15 min., or a few hours, helps dissolve stubborn residue (don't do this with old, dried out covers).

The knife doesn't always remove all the adhesive, and very old stickers seem to be impossible to get off without damaging the book, but using the knife is faster, cheaper, less messy, and less toxic than the chemicals. It took a little practice to get good with the knife. (Hint: hold the knife nearly parallel to the surface you are cleaning and think). The knife I use has a thin, straight blade and a fairly thin handle.

Before settling on the knife, we used lots of UnDu and Goo Gone and have found both work pretty well. Sometimes UnDu works where GooGone won't and vice versa. We also tried several label peelers/scrapers, which are available at Amazon and library supply stores, and they worked OK, too. The knife is by far the fastest, easiest and cleanest.

Dec 20, 2014, 8:33pm Top

Take as much of the sticker off, spray olive oil cooking spray on a cloth, then rub in a concentrated area till the stickiness is gone. Wipe oil off with another cloth. Seriously. It works and almost everyone has spray oil.

Jun 8, 2015, 3:31pm Top

ANY oily substance (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, mayonnaise, baby oil) will work to take off sticky residue on a GLOSSY surface with gentle rubbing, and perseverance. But if you have what you consider a collectible edition with a sticker on it, I wouldn't touch it. The less you do to it yourself, the better. If the sticker can be easily removed, it won't hurt the value of the book because it can be taken off at any time. If it can't, then only a professional should try. Either way, leaving it alone is the least problematic course of action.

Group: Book Care and Repair

538 members

1,184 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.


No touchstones

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,075,517 books! | Top bar: Always visible