How to Get Sticker Residue off Bathing Suit

How to Get Sticker Residue off Bathing Suit

Getting the perfect swimsuit is hard enough as it is, and it just seems like life is playing a cruel joke when, after trying on so many and finally buying one that fits like a glove, you remove the hygiene sticker only to end up with sticker residue on your swimsuit. Gah! Why must there be a problem at every turn?

Depending on how stubborn this sticker residue is, you can try to get rid of it yourself, or you can ultimately return it (as long as you haven’t worn it into the water yet) and pray that the next pair won’t have this problem. The best way to get rid of any sticky residue is to use isopropyl alcohol, though you can also try using white vinegar or various kinds of oils. These solutions should not stain your swimsuit and will get rid of the residue.

There are also some tips you can try before you even remove the sticker to help you smoothly remove it with no leftover residue. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Plus, without this knowledge, there is no guarantee that the next swimsuit won’t have the same issue, so getting good at peeling off stickers is a useful skill to know.

In this article, we will discuss how to get sticker residue off your bathing suit so that it can look and feel pristine when you wear it. We also go over some ways you can smoothly remove the sticker so that there is no residue leftover in the first place.

Best cleaning agents to get rid of sticker residue

There are many ways to get rid of sticker residue on your swimsuit. Thankfully, some of the best ways utilize ingredients/tools that you likely already have at home so you don’t even have to spend additional money. Some of these solutions you may have to go out of your way to buy additional products, but they work as well. Let’s start with the most effective and common solutions.

Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is likely something you have in a first aid kit/drawer at home. Aside from disinfecting wounds, it is also incredibly good at getting rid of sticky residue.

Every single time I’ve had to deal with sticky residue, whether it’s on my swimwear, other clothing, or any other product, isopropyl alcohol has managed to give the best results with little to no residual effect.

If you’re worried that isopropyl alcohol is too strong, you can make a watered down solution where you dilute it with one part water to three parts IA. This will make it less potent, yet it should still be able to get the job done with little risk of discoloring your swimsuit.

White vinegar

I often recommend white vinegar as a detergent when washing your swimsuit, and it can also be used to get rid of the sticky residue on your bathing suit if you are not comfortable with using alcohol.

The vinegar does not break down the residue the way alcohol does, but it can help loosen it up so that as you’re rubbing the residue, it balls up and simply rolls off.

Put your bathing suit in the freezer

Okay, this sounds weird, but bear with me for a second. If you freeze your swimsuit, it can freeze the adhesive residue and cause it to become brittle. That way, you can more easily remove it from the fabric.

Putting your swimsuit in the freezer also has the added benefit of killing some bacteria which could be the source of some funky odors. If you think this is too crazy, understand that it is a common tactic recommended for jeans since the prevailing wisdom is that you shouldn’t wash them.

Plain ol’ soap

Soap doesn’t actually break down the residue like some of our other suggestions, however if you let it sit on the sticky area for about an hour, it can prime the surface so that the glue can be easily lifted off or rolled into little balls to be washed away. Lotions may also provide a similar benefit.

Peanut butter

Apply peanut butter on the sticker and let it sit until the sticker softens. Then use a clean rag to wipe off the peanut better and the residue.

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I have not personally used this product as I’ve found isopropyl alcohol to be effective for my needs, however many cleaning professionals have recommended Goo Gone as an adhesive remover.

This product specifically breaks down the adhesive so that you can easily wipe it off. However, I recommend you test it on an inconspicuous section of your swimsuit first because some people have claimed that it can discolor polyester clothing. Others have said they used it on their clothing with no discoloration whatsoever. Your mileage may vary, use at your own risk.

Various oils

There are various oils you can use as cleaning agents, such as:

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemon oil
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • Mineral oil, non-acetone
  • Perfume, non-acetone

Use dish soap to clean the oil afterwards.


This is an old technique that still holds up. Some lotions can potentially help you remove the sticker residue from your swimsuit.

It’s not a method I would recommend as your first choice, but if you’re traveling or don’t otherwise have access to isopropyl alcohol, you try using lotion instead.

Simply rub the lotion on the spot, let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and then use the edge of an item (like a credit card or a plastic scraper) to scrape the residue off.

How to remove the sticky residue

So now you know about the various cleaning agents you can use, but you also need to know the optimal way to apply them.

First, apply the removal agent to a cotton ball or clean cloth. Then, rub the affected area gently, and this should be enough to remove the residual glue.

After you have successfully removed the glue, hand wash your swimsuit in cold water using swimsuit detergent or white vinegar.

How to remove paper stickers without leaving residue

Rather than improperly peeling off a sticker and dealing with the residue afterwards, you can just peel it properly the first place so that it doesn’t leave any residue behind. Here are the best ways to do that:

Credit card/plastic scraper

Metal blades will scratch the surface of your swimsuit, but a credit card or plastic scraper can safely scrape the sticker off without scratching it.

You will need to hold the swimsuit taut for it to be effective. Another option is to wipe the sticker with the scratchy side of a sponge.

Warm water

Put a few drops of hand soap into a sink full of warm water. Then, immerse your swimsuit in it to soak until the sticker softens. Then scrape away the gunk using a plastic scraper or with your fingers.

Cold water doesn’t remove stickers as effectively as hot water, but it cannot be too hot otherwise it might shrink your swimsuit.

Isopropyl alcohol

Once again, rubbing alcohol is the top choice. Vodka is a good substitute. Dampen a paper towel or clean cloth with isopropyl alcohol, then gently rub the residue to cleanly lift it off.

For more stubborn stickers, leave a large alcohol-soaked rag over the area and let it sit for 10 minutes to soften the sticker. Then, using the same rag, rub off what’s left behind.

Parting words

To recap, the best cleaning agents to remove sticky residues on your swimsuit are isopropyl alcohol and Goo Gone. These agents will break down the residue, whereas the other solutions can help make the residue less sticky so it can be easily wiped off.

That said, some people are afraid that these strong chemicals will break down or discolor their swimsuit. This is a fair concern, which is why I recommend first testing it on an inconspicuous spot on your swimsuit, or to go with some of the other solutions if this is too big of a risk.

Photo Credit: Jan Krutisch (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API