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My new Dell Studio 15 has those annoying "permanent" decal stickers for Windows Vista and Intel Centrino processor. I want them gone. I don't want to try to peel them only to discover that I've ruined the surface underneath.

What is the right procedure to safely remove stickers from a laptop?

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The only stickers on my Macbook are the ones I put on it :-). –  jtimberman Jul 30 '09 at 14:21
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What? You don't like telling everyone your machine specs and what your "Powered by"? If it works for ricer import cars, why cant it work for computers? hehe –  Troggy Jul 30 '09 at 14:31
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Oh, that's right. Instead of stickers, Apple puts embedded logos on their hardware. –  Travis Aug 13 '09 at 20:47
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@T Pops - So does everyone else. Dell had the big medallion in the middle of the lid, sony has SONY embedded, as does Acer and every other big vendor. –  MDMarra Sep 29 '09 at 20:07
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You can put another sticker on the logo if you do not like it :) –  Lekensteyn Jan 24 '11 at 18:24
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9 Answers

up vote 53 down vote accepted

From http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Stickers-from-a-Laptop:

  1. Make sure this laptop isn't too old. The stickers will dry up, and over time, the glue backing will separate from the printed material. If you decide to remove the stickers, do it quickly. The stickers are not going to stay fresh for more than a year or two, depending upon its quality. If your laptop is a relic, skip to the very last step to use a chemical removal method.
  2. Decide which stickers to remove. Some stickers are useful, such as OEM licensing stickers that will be voided when remove. Others may contain serial numbers, service tags, support information, or systems specifications. Commonly removed stickers include ones promoting the Windows operating system (ie: "Designed for Windows XP" and "Windows Vista Capable"),as well as Intel and AMD CPU stickers.
  3. Remember to do this slowly. If you rush it and try to pull the whole thing off at once, you run the risk of tearing the sticker or separating the glue backing.
  4. Start from the edges. Use your fingernails, a pair of tweezers, or a non-abrasive abrasive putty knife. Be careful not to scratch or damage any plastic or aluminum surfaces in the process.
  5. Pull the sticker up slowly from the edge you just started. Try to pull it up using an angle between 45 and 90 degrees. Never bend the sticker back further than a 90 degree angle, as this will promote the separation of the glue backing and printed material.
  6. Clean the surface. Some sticker residue may be rubbed off easily, while some require additional help. As always, avoid scratching the surface.

    1. First, try rubbing off the remaining residue by hand. Many forms of glue, even when mixed with a little paper, will curl up onto itself when moved over a surface.
    2. Second, if rubbing doesn't help, try using duct tape or other very sticky tape to remove the remaining residue. Break or cut off a piece of tape, apply it to the surface, then remove it. Repeat this until all of the residue has been removed, and attached to the tape instead.
    3. Third, if all previous attempts fail, use chemicals. A popular and extremely useful method is to use a citric-acid based cleaner such as "Goo-Gone". These type of cleaners will not harm metal or harder plastics, but may dry the surface of softer plastics, leaving a white, frosted appearance. Test this on a small, hidden area first. Another liquid to try is alcohol. Another is WD-40 which won't hurt the surface and can be cleaned off the computer's surface with a dish rag and a little soap.
  7. A product called "Odor Assassin" (Lemon-Lime Scent) that is available at most "dollar" and discount stores will dissolve most adhesives instantly and can be removed with a clean cotton face cloth.

Content available via CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 from wikiHow

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5  
Peanut butter also works to remove sticker residue. –  Scott Jul 30 '09 at 15:52
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When using WD-40, don't forget to make sure it doesn't leak into the keyboard or any speakers. WD-40 and electronic circuitry simply do not mix. –  Andrew Szeto Jul 31 '09 at 6:35
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A bit pedantic, but actually WD-40 is non-conductive and works fine on electrical surfaces. The caveat, is that it doesn't ever "dry" and dust is attracted to it. The accumulated dust can cause short circuits if it builds up enough. –  Keck Jul 31 '09 at 13:58
    
WD-40 is perfectly electronics safe. It was developed to protect electronics in missiles. It will just leave oily residue and oder. –  Greg Buehler Sep 29 '09 at 15:42
    
@1: If the Laptop is old and the palmrest looks used then better leave the sticker where they are or you might discover that the original color was preserved underneath. ;) @6 For glue residues: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, rubber to rubber. You can use an eraser to remove the rest of the glue –  bytesum Sep 26 '10 at 19:27
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To 'close the loop':

  1. I followed the instructions from wiki-how in Krish's answer. I think the most important instructions is slowly
  2. I followed the instructions on the notebook review forum -- which meant I didn't need to use any chemicals or anything to get rid of the residue (The Blu-Tak principle works: dab the sticker to peeled off to remove the residue)
  3. I ignored the advice to use Peanut Butter
  4. This related youtube video didn't live up to its title
  • The Intel decal came off almost without leaving any residue
  • The Vista decal left almost 100% of its glue on the laptop -- the Intel decal was used to 'dab' up the residue.
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Exact opposite - the Windows 7 sticker left almost none, but the Intel Pentium left half. –  new123456 Feb 11 '11 at 22:35
    
Nice youtube video! –  Milo Mar 24 '13 at 11:25
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If you're really really careful, and you have very steady hands, you can also use a razor blade (sans holder) to remove stickers.

We used to use them at the rental car agency I worked for to remove stickers from windows, "car chalk" writing, sap from paint, etc. Just like I said - be cautious, and you won't ding the plastic :)

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I'd use a razorblade on glass. I'd even consider carefully using it on a car's duco, but never would I use it on the tender plastic of a laptop case. What's more, while that might remove the sticker itself, it will leave the adhesive behind. –  RickMeasham Oct 19 '09 at 23:25
    
that's where googone comes in :) –  warren Oct 20 '09 at 4:15
    
but you're right - it's a VERY delicate operation –  warren Oct 20 '09 at 4:16
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After I peeled off the Windows 7 Starter decal on my Toshiba NB505 netbook, I noticed that it left the adhesive residue. I used WD-40 with a QTip to remove the residue. It cleanly removed the adhesive residue.

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A little bit of heat might help. Use a hair dryer to heat the stickers and make the glue and little less gluey. Of course, if you're not careful, your shiny new laptop might morph a bit.

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Did you try this? I have bad experience with hot water, so I wonder what a hot hair dryer will do. Once heated, the glue tends to get incredibly sticky, in my experience. –  Arjan Jul 30 '09 at 12:05
    
I used this sucessfully with stickers on CD cases. Don't know whether those annoying laptop stickers have a different kind of glue, though. –  innaM Jul 30 '09 at 12:29
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Works great. I used to work in shipping/packaging used networking equipment and we were always peeling off asset-tag stickers and the like. A heat gun, carefully applied can remove stickers from cardboard with no tearing or residue to clean up. Again, heat+computer doesn't mix, so be careful –  Keck Jul 31 '09 at 13:55
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When, once starting to tear it off, the sticker gets damaged: apply cold water (like a damp cloth) to it for half an hour. (Don't use hot water though. Probably won't help with these "metallic" stickers that won't let the water go through.)

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Well, if you have a laptop and you allready ripped them off, but it leaves that white residue, then you can get some pam, or just a store brand cooking spray, and get a little on a paper towel. You have to get your nail and scrub for a while, but this is the most important part. IT COULD TAKE UP TO TEN MINUTES:MAX. Then, once majority is gone, get a peice of tape and work the rest off. Then wet a paper towel, and ring it out. then, scrub over it to get the greasy-ness off, then dry it. It should be all gone. The clean -up is easy. All you do is put up the spray, throw away the towels, and your all done!! :) Hope this helps!

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Don't bother with the rest - WD40 is the answer

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I bought a new Dell Studio 15 laptop as well. I took off the intel sticker first and used the sticker itself to remove the remaining residue. Took off the windows sticker with no residue. No need to use cleaning products afterwards.

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