How to Get Adhesive Residue Off of Ceilings

Safely eliminate painter's tape with heat or a solvent cleaner.
Safely eliminate painter's tape with heat or a solvent cleaner. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Painter's tape protects ceilings from painting mistakes and splatters, but can leave residue on the ceiling's surface if the tape is left on long after the painting job is finished. Ceilings cannot be washed with water as moisture can cause a permanent stain that discolors the painted surface. Adhesive can be eliminated with an ammonia-based cleaner that loosens the glue while maintaining the finish of the ceiling. Alternatively, glue can be heated and removed if you do not wish to expose the ceiling to any cleaning products.

Things You'll Need

  • Portable hair dryer
  • Extension cord
  • Painter's tape
  • 2 soft, lint-free cloths
  • Ammonia-based cleaner

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Heat Removal

Plug in the hair dryer's adapter into an extension cable, then plug the extension cable into a an electrical outlet.

Turn on the hair dryer's heat setting to the hottest temperature and set the dryer's power to high.

Move the hair dryer's nozzle 6 to 8 inches away from the adhesive and focus on the ceiling's adhesive residue for five minutes to warm up the residue.

Roll your finger against the residue to remove the glue, or place a new piece of tape over the warmed residue and quickly remove the tape to pick up the glue.

Ammonia-based Removal

Saturate a lint-free cleaning cloth with the ammonia-based cleaner.

Sponge the adhesive residue with the damp cleaning cloth to wet the glue.

Wipe off the residue with a dry, lint-free cloth to remove the residue and dry the cleaning spot.


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