Not everyone decorates their laptop with stickers. But what if you do, and you like those stickers and want to take them with you when you get a new laptop? Or what if you decide you don’t like one of those stickers and want to get rid of it without damaging the others? Or you want to get rid of the Intel or Windows stickers because you don’t want your laptop to look like a NASCAR racer. Here’s how to remove a sticker from a laptop.
Remove stickers from laptops and even paper with solvent
Removing a sticker from plastic in such a way as to not damage it is absolutely doable. I’ve even removed stickers from books and cardboard boxes without damaging the paper or the sticker. You just need the right solvent, technique, and patience.
Generations of graphic designers and art school students used a product called Bestine to fix mistakes when doing paste-up. It works just as well, if not better, on stickers today.
You can buy Bestine, a rubber cement thinner you can buy at art supply stores, as well as the Michaels chain of arts and crafts stores. My second favorite is naphtha, which may be a bit easier to buy. It’s the main ingredient in Ronsonol lighter fluid. It seems wrong that you can buy that at the smoking section of the local pharmacy, but that’s the easiest place to get it.
Apply a bit of the solvent to a cotton swab, then run the swab along the edge of the sticker and let the solvent wick under it. If the sticker is made of paper and is somewhat porous, you can even apply solvent along the top of the sticker and let it soak under. It won’t harm the ink. Repeat along the edge or even over the top until you see an edge or a corner starting to lift. Gently start to peel where you see the sticker lift. If it starts to give you any resistance, stop. Apply more solvent under the sticker and wait a few seconds. Repeat for good measure, then peel a bit more. With patience, you’ll find you can lift the sticker with minimal or even no damage.
Removing sticker residue from the laptop
You’ll probably find once the sticker lifts, there’s some sticker gunk or residue lingering behind. Apply some more solvent, and you’ll find the residue lifts easily, leaving a clean surface behind.
Reattaching the sticker to a new laptop
To reattach the sticker to a new laptop, you’ll need some new adhesive. If the sticker’s shape is relatively straight and square, you can use two-sided tape. But if it’s a complex shape, get some spray adhesive from a craft store. Clean the area where you intend to apply the sticker with a bit of alcohol to remove any oils from the surface. Then spray the adhesive to the underside of the sticker, then stick it to the new laptop. You’ll find it sticks rather well to the new laptop afterward.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.