Book Care Book Repair

How to Remove Stickers from Books

Let me start out with a disclaimer: this post is intended for helping with cheap paperbacks and ex-library hardbacks ordered from warehouses that use inventory stickers and the such – NOT for expensive rare books. So please, don’t email us if you ruin a signed first edition of Portnoy’s Complaint.

That said, I love to purchase reading copies, cheap paperbacks, and ex-library books, but I don’t love all the stickers that are often on the covers. I dedicated one afternoon to figuring out how to easily remove them. After my day of scientific research and experimentation, my results were simple, cheap, and easy:

A hair dryer + Goo Gone (found for $1 at the Dollar Tree). If you don’t have Goo Gone in your area, any gum remover should work.

Yep. That’s it!

Carefully apply heat from the hairdryer and once the sticker heats up enough, it should be easy to remove.

Next, wipe the sticky residue off with a washcloth or paper towel dabbed with a small amount of Goo Gone (have another clean cloth to wipe it again- it’s kinda smelly and greasy).

That’s how you go from this:

To this:

I hope that helps you to tidy up your library. What are your tips or tricks?


  • WD-40 Specialist Silicone Spray works well to remove sticker residue, also. =)

    PS: Thanks for the tip about using a hair dryer to heat the sticker!

  • Another even easier way is lighter fluid. With a bottle of lighter fluid squirt a little of the fluid on the offending label wait a minute and remove the label. You can use a single-sided razor blade to help lift the label off the book.

  • I too, appreciate the hair dryer suggestion and will try it.

    I use tiny amounts of pure lemon oil on a small hunk of paper towel. It’s a human and book friendly approach.

    You can find pure lemon oil in a grocery store baking section, amazon, and also as an essential oil. I buy alot of used books, which arrive with stickers and grime. The lemon oil works on both. I use “Boyagian Pure Lemon Oil”. It is nice that so little of it is needed, and is environmentally safe with a wonderful fragrance.

    Many used books arrive mangled by USPS and poor packaging. I have found that a bone folder helps with edges and creases. The book won’t come out perfect, but it will be improved. For the more difficult cases, you can clamp your book firmly between a couple of boards, making sure the spine is up to, but NOT between the boards. I’ll leave them for days that way, if necessary. The boards I use are always larger than the books.

    I hope these options work for you as well as they have for me.

  • I’d be careful with Goo Gone, especially if the book is valuable or if the cover stock has a matte finish or anything like it. In my experience Goo Gone itself can leave a residue that at worst will discolor the jacket and in many other situations will leave a somewhat greasy residue that you can certainly see and feel, even after much wiping with paper towels.

    In terms of cleaning AND sticker removal, water, lighter fluid, and goo-gone all have a place, but be careful – if you DO have a potentially valuable book and you’re not sure a sticker will come off cleanly, just roll the presence of the sticker into the description, price it $5 lower, and let the purchaser decide on next steps.

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