Scotch Tape Adhesive: How to remove it using solvents.

Scotch Tape Adhesive: How to remove it using solvents.

scotch tape adhesive

Even though the sliding storage door looks like wood, I believe it’s plastic with an imprinted wood grain.

Like many others in California, my son owns a Tesla. It has a storage compartment with a sliding door between the front seats. A year or so ago my son taped some paper with information he needed to the top of the door. Recently, when he went to remove the Scotch Tape, he was only able to peel off the plastic backing. He wasn’t able to remove most of the adhesive.

So, Papa to the rescue. (I was visiting grandchildren.)

Unfortunately, as I’ve written many times, the Los Angeles area has eliminated the sale of many solvents, which I could have used to remove the adhesive. So I was limited to a few solvents my son still had from years before the restrictions were introduced. He still had an old can of lacquer thinner, which I knew would remove the adhesive easily. The stores also still sold acetone, an exempt solvent and a primary active ingredient in lacquer thinner. So I could use acetone. But I didn’t want to use either because I was pretty sure the top of the door was plastic, and both of these solvents would damage plastic.

I could have used naphtha, which is stronger than paint thinner, but naphtha isn’t available any longer in southern California.

Paint thinner is still available, but as I’ve explained before, the paint thinner sold in LA contains a lot of acetone to get the thinner to comply with the strict VOC laws. The paint thinner would probably damage the plastic just as acetone would.

Turpentine is not as strong as naphtha, but it is stronger than traditional paint thinner, and my son had an old can of turpentine. So I decided to try it; I knew it wouldn’t damage the plastic.

So the end of the story, as you probably suspect, is that I was able to get the turpentine to work well enough to remove the adhesive, though it took some serious rubbing. I’m not sure what I would have tried if there hadn’t been that old can of turpentine. The most likely solution that comes to mind is to try a blow dryer. It shouldn’t get hot enough to damage the plastic, but it might soften the adhesive enough to make it possible to rub off. Though this would probably create a mess.

Solvents are so useful for solving many problems. I think it’s a shame that their sale is being restricted.

Further Reading: How to Remove Crayon and Candle Wax

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