Home > Tutorials, video games > Sticker Gunk : How to Remove it Without Destroying Everything Else

Sticker Gunk : How to Remove it Without Destroying Everything Else

You’ve all experienced it. You go to EBgames or Gamestop to buy a game, and the only copies they have are gutted, with the sticker on it. Or you go to buy a pre-owned game, which is guaranteed to have a sticker on the case. And then after you buy it, they put this giant sticker on it to seal it as proof that it hasn’t been opened (blame piracy for that one).

You take it home, and try to peel off that god-damn sticker as carefully as you can and it throws you a bomb before it can be thwarted – it tears, leaving behind a papery sticker gunk residue. You then spend the rest of the day picking at the gunk until it virtually destroys the case’s would-have-been-shiny-finish, and have also dented the insert underneath. You try applying tape to it, but it does nothing! Then the sticky parts collect dirt and eventually turn black, making your game look thoroughly used!! Maddening!!!

But! There are ways to remove it without so much as breaking a sweat! You can apply this method to DVD cases, manga, and other stickers stuck on shiny surfaces!! How?! Read on!

This method, I’ve discovered after experimenting with several stickers and DVD cases, and has worked for me 100%.

First off, remove all the contents of the DVD case – the disc, the manual, the inserts. Next, if the sticker is a glossy finish, pick a corner with your finger nail and start peeling. If it tears, that’s okay. Keep at it until the gloss finish stuff is gone. That stuff is generally more sturdy, so it should peel off with little effort. If the sticker is a matt finish, you can ignore that step.

Next, take a couple drops of water on your finger and apply it to the sticker gunk. Only a drop or two is necessary. Gently rub the surface with your finger. Bits of paper balls should start coming off. Brush that stuff off with your finger and repeat until there aren’t any more bits coming off. You’ll still have a crapload of residue on it. Don’t worry. The idea is to clean off just the paper stuff. When you’re done, pat the surface with a clean, lint free towel. Yes, towel. Not paper towel. When it’s dry, you’ll be left with a very sticky residue. This is the glue that’s left over.

With most of the paper gunk gone, it will stick to anything. But, apply something sticky to that, and it will stick to that instead!

So next, get some scotch tape. Any type will do. Stick part of the tape on (not entirely, otherwise you’ll be trying to peel the tape off instead) while still grasping one end of the tape with a finger. Rub the tape onto the glue with a finger, and then pull the tape.

Glue should come right off. Sometimes, I like to hold both sides of the tape, and use my thumb to rub the tape in, and then pull straight up instead.

And there you have it, a clean disc case!

This method works with almost any sticker – price tags, labels, security stickers, bumper stickers, you name it. Some heavier grade glues require heavier types of tape, so try accordingly.

I prefer using this method instead of chemicals such as oil or alcohol or acetate remover, since water is less likely to cause damage to your case. Those are also effective methods too though.

The important thing is to remove the paper gunk first. Instead of applying tape, you could apply nail polish remover or alcohol and it will remove the sticker gunk just as easily.

There, now you’re free from stickies!! Good luck!

  1. sharc
    August 7, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    kind of doubt you’re reading comments this far back, but oh well. anyway, your methods will work but they’ll cause more headaches than necessary. the perfect solution to just about any stickers are oil and alcohol, applied to a q-tip or bit of paper towel to cut down on spills. cheapo cooking oil, being a lubricant, will break down and counteract the stickiness of an adhesive, both weakening the sticker and cleaning off the finest of residue. alcohol will do the same job as water in scrubbing a surface clean, but it’s both more potent as a cleaner and evaporates faster leaving almost nothing behind.

    you can be as careless as you like with stickers; no matter how tough it is, oil and alcohol will break it down. only downside is, both of these substances will damage cardboard or paper, so older game boxes are a no-go (although i’ve had excellent results with gba boxes, using slight dabs of oil and extreme caution).

    • chris
      February 23, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      get a heat gun they are fairly expensive and done right u can take the plastic off enought to get the game out and you can trade it in as brand new if ur into it

  2. August 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    naw, I get email notification when anyone comments on anything. πŸ™‚

    I agree with you on the alcohol thing, as I have used it before and it works great. However, different concentrations yield slightly different results, especially when people use solutions that have slightly corrosive properties. The water + tape trick is fool-proof, and easily accessable by anybody.

    I typically don’t have any alcohol handy, so the water + tape trick is convenient for me. You’d be surprised how well tape can pull off the glue!

    The water dabbing trick does work on GBA boxes too, as it breaks down the sticker, but not the glue (the glue acts somewhat water resistent) and the tape does all the work without damaging or soggying up the cardboard box.

    Thanks for the comment and tips!

  3. KneeNAR
    July 8, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Late reply LOL. I actually work at a games store and the stickers are stupidly easy to peel off, and they leave nothing. The only ones that leave crap behind are uber UBER old games.

    You know what you completely solve this problem to anyone who is anal about their games? Preorder them. Your copy is put aside until you collect it, and it stays sealed, unless of course it didn’t have a seal originally. (Like Eternal Sonata on PS3, for example), and stickers don’t go near it.

    The answer to life’s problems.

  4. Dex
    January 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks a ton! πŸ˜€

    I just got Darksiders and it had just about the cheapest sticker ever on there.
    The worst part… the DEVELOPERS put it there, not the game store!

    It left every bit of residue from the sticker on the box, a perfect circle.
    Glad i found this because my OCD would of killed me with that massive thing there xD

    • January 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      sweet! Glad I was able to help! Interestingly, I’ve found that Japanese products with stickers are the best. The stickers seem to be high quality, and come off without a hitch.

      I’m OCD about my game boxes too! πŸ˜€

  5. TripEllex
    June 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm


    I disagree with you, on your point that this method doesn’t work. I recently came into possession of hundreds of old Movie Gallery original game cases for PS3, 360, Wii and PS2, almost all of them having price labels and the Movie Gallery Game Vault sticker on them, not to mention the magnetic tags inside the case. I tried everything, from isopropyl alcohol to acetone and non-acetone nail polish remover, to no avail. They left a good bit of residue. I considered the oil idea, but ruled that out as it tends to leave behind yet another mess, that being the oil itself, not to mention the petroleum base of any oil solution is bad for the outer transparent plastic found on most game cases. After trying Radiant’s method using just plain old water and (in my case) duct tape, everything came off like magic without so much as the slightest smear or residue left behind. I can safely say I used his method on over 300 different cases without fail.

    • June 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Woohoo! I’m so happy to hear that it has worked for you, especially on 300+ disc cases! That must have been a lot of work!

      I apologize that I’ve been too lazy to post pictures of the process. But at least this method is now 300% proven to work! πŸ˜‰


  6. Nicole
    July 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Lighter fluid works best. No elbow grease required.

  7. July 14, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Hmmm… Lighter fluid… that’s the same as using oil, I guess. Doesn’t lighter fluid smell though?

    I’ve tried using nail polish remover, and it actually works great too.

  8. Jules
    March 17, 2011 at 11:23 am

    haha 3 years later, thanks dude! I did this before but it doesn’t always work. But it is my fav so far. I haven’t used duct tape, maybe that’s why it hasn’t worked all the time. Thanks for the tips! It feels nice to know I am not the only one with OCD on my collections (books, dvds, games). I wonder if it works on all books, without ripping the paper/cardboard covers.

  9. JW
    July 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Peanutbutter takes goo off then you can wipe the peanutbutter off. I’ve taken tags off of boxes and such that tape would rip up.

  10. handso
    April 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Any cooking oil will do. Dab directly onto label, let sit up to 24 hours. Label peels off like magic. Soap and water to clean up oil residue. Completely non-toxic and won’t harm any surface.

  11. D Daigneault
    September 20, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Thank You! I was a little skeptical, it sounded too easy but I was able to remove an old gunky label in seconds. Now if only I could make the plastic case cover look clear again instead of all dull and hazy.

  12. Amy
    December 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Dude best option ever! I don’t like using the wd-40 or other oil based stuff because it is messy. This was easy and helped out a lot! Thanks!

  13. October 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Hi all, here every person is sharing these familiarity, therefore it’s pleasant
    to read this website, and I used to go to see
    this web site every day.

  14. Sue
    February 18, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks SO much. This worked wonders and saved s designer box

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