Building or remodeling a house means removing labels from windows and bathtubs. A sharp razor blade and glass cleaner work wonders on windows, but they could scratch acrylic or gel-coated fiberglass tubs, so I employ my fingernails and Soft Scrub, and usually end up with a large patch of smudge gray adhesive. Until now, the solution for that mess has been my reluctant and conservative use Goof Off or Goo Gone. The chemical cleaners are effective, but breathing their vapors is no fun—think migraine.
Recently I was confronted with the task of removing duct tape that had been used to fasten protective Ram Board over hardwood floors, and had remained in place for years. Duct tape is incredibly sticky—and it should be to keep our heating ducts fastened together without air leaks—but it doesn’t belong on floors where the weight of foot traffic added to the adhering power of the fibrous tape.
The offending tape was found throughout the large room where pieces of Ram Board were taped together, at the edges of the room, and at the transitions to the kitchen, stairs, and powder room. I balked at the thought of using volatile chemicals for hours while I scrubbed off the gummy residue, poisoning four of the six of us working in the house at the time, since we only have two EPA/OSHA approved respirators.
So I did what many of us do best: I turned to Google, searching for “natural adhesive removal.” Cooking oil came up, and I thought it might work in pump or spray form, to remove children’s stickers from a refrigerator or entertainment center, and Goodwill price tags on toys and dishes, but I thought it would be too thin and runny for the floor.
Then I came across a better suggestion: peanut butter. It had oil’s properties without the drips. I could spread on peanut butter, creamy of course, and let it soften the adhesive without worrying that it would run and drip on the floor.
So I bought a jar of Skippy (no need to purchase all-natural or organic for this purpose) with an opening large enough to dip my rag in. For a smaller job at home, you could certainly spoon some creamy peanut butter into a plastic container and use that, rather than contaminating an entire jar with dirt and fibers.
I used clean painter’s rags made of T-shirt material, one to apply the peanut butter, another to rub off the adhesive. (I would avoid microfiber towels for this job, as the towel would absorb the peanut butter’s oil rendering it less effective.)
I found that circular motions as though I were waxing/polishing a car worked best to remove the adhesive and the gunk that’d stuck to it. I was careful to keep refolding my rags so that I wasn’t rubbing the tape fibers into the wood anymore than necessary.
The project involved a fair amount of elbow grease, but what I thought would take a full workday only took a few hours, and the results were great. So, next time you’re confronted with sticky residue you need to remove, reach for the peanut butter.