Author Topic: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets  (Read 1336 times)

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Offline nycwoodworker

  • Posts: 33
Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« on: March 24, 2021, 06:10 PM »
I am going to be doing the work to refinish the cabinets to give it a makeover and be usable for next couple years as we save some costs on the renovations of the new apartment.  The cabinets unfortunately had these peel and stick put directly onto all shelving...EVERYWHERE.

I managed to get this off real slowly with a heat gun but now everything is STICKY.  I've tried using a couple different cleaning products(Goo Gone, OxyClean), I've used the heat gun to try to melt it a bit and wipe it up and I've soaked a rag in mineral spirits, let it sit and then tried to wipe up.  None of this worked!

I've resigned myself to having to sand all the shelves, but I was hoping for some guidance on the process for this? What grit should I start with?  What type of sand paper?  I have a EC-125 and an RTS.  I think that'll be good enough to go over everything and get to the corners.  Might be able to borrow an DTS if needed.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Offline Bohdan

  • Posts: 1014
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2021, 06:20 PM »
Eucalyptus oil will disolve and remove sticky residues without damaging the surface.

Offline mike_aa

  • Posts: 1249
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2021, 10:20 PM »
Many years ago a graphic artist I knew told me about Bestine Rubber Cement Thinner and Solvent.  Since then I've used it in many different situations and it does a pretty good job of removing sticky residue without affecting surfaces.  I don't know how well it would work in your situation, but it might be worth trying.  Another solvent I've used is lighter fluid.  It also seems to work well.

Hope this is helpful!

Mike A.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2021, 09:32 AM by mike_aa »

Offline Bert Vanderveen

  • Posts: 832
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2021, 10:18 AM »
Use a piece of felt (about a quarter inch thick, maybe a bit less), soak it in thinner, place on surface (cover with piece of plastic to stop evaporation), leave in place for a while, slide over and process spot with painters knife or plastic spatula. Rub afterwards with cloth with thinner. Keep felt wet.
Cheers, Bert Vanderveen

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Offline Packard

  • Posts: 623
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2021, 12:09 PM »
You can remove pressure-sensitive adhesive in two ways.

Heat.  Most pressure-sensitive adhesive is heat-activated.  Applying heat either by using a household iron (clothes iron) on a low temperature or by using a hair dryer (slow) or a heat gun (fast, but be careful--too much heat can melt things).  And then peal. 

There is no guaranteeing that all the adhesive will be removed though. 

Applying oil to the surface and allowing it to sit for several hours will generally allow you to wipe off all the adhesive.  Saturate a paper towel with cooking oil and let it sit on the adhesive, and then wipe up.  But you will have to remove all the the residual oil before applying a finish.

On vertical surfaces I apply mayonnaise.  Mayo is about 70% to 80% oil and will not run.  Apply the mayo about 1/8" thick layer and leave it overnight.  Wipe clean. 

50% vinegar and 50% water plus a few drops of dishwashing soap (I like Dawn) is an excellent cleaner for this. 

Finish up with a light sanding and a rag damp with mineral spirits. 

If you are not painting, then just wipe it clean.  I like using Swiffer wet pads for cleaning my cabinets.  You will want to wear gloves because of the fragrance, but it is fairly safe to handle. 

Waterlox recommends it for their finishes.

Offline Dr. P. Venkman

  • Posts: 167
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2021, 02:09 PM »
On vertical surfaces I apply mayonnaise.  Mayo is about 70% to 80% oil and will not run.  Apply the mayo about 1/8" thick layer and leave it overnight.  Wipe clean. 

Smart...and gross.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 623
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2021, 03:14 PM »
I used to visit a girlfriend's apartment years ago and the apartment manager was fond of placing "YOU ARE PARKED ILLEGALLY" stickers on the windows if you did not have a parking permit.  The stickers were made from really cheap and absorbant paper and really strong adhesive.  I would smear the mayo over the sticker and in the morning I would just wipe the whole mess off. 

If I tried to use oil on this, it simply would have run down the side of the car.  I do admit that the car smelled a little like salad, especially since my glass cleaner was made from vinegar.  But it was a safe way to deal with this. 

I would note that a standard sticker would have paper or vinyl that was not absorbant and this wouldn't have worked.  In that case heat would be my best friend. 

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 7646
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2021, 03:16 PM »
First try white spirit, it will dissolve most adhesives from tape and stickers. If that doesn't work, paint thinner (toluene/xylene), that will surely dissolve it. Just wipe with a soaked cloth.

Offline nycwoodworker

  • Posts: 33
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2021, 03:27 PM »
Thanks for the tips everybody! I'm working through some of these before I start to order some others on Amazon to try.  I was worried about paint thinner being too hard on the shelving of the cabinets.  We'll see.

Keep them coming and I'll post back with some updates...thanks everyone!

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5274
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2021, 04:17 PM »
First try white spirit, it will dissolve most adhesives from tape and stickers. If that doesn't work, paint thinner (toluene/xylene), that will surely dissolve it. Just wipe with a soaked cloth.

In the states “paint thinner” is just a dirtier smellier unregulated cousin of “mineral spirits”. It might work better in this case because of the additional (leftovers from refining) ingredients but what you’re calling paint thinner sounds more like what we call lacquer thinner. It has ingredients that slow down evaporation so the acetone etc. can get the job done.


Offline Packard

  • Posts: 623
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2021, 04:31 PM »
Acetone is actually one of the safer chemicals we use.  You can actually drink a small amount of it and your body will process it with no harm.  It is an irritant.  And that will generally be enough warning not to drink it. Even so, it is preferred as nail polish remover because it is relatively safer than all the other options.  A 150-pound person can actually consume 1.7 ounces without significant issues.  However, it quickly becomes dangerous.  If you drink twice that (3.4 ounces) that can be a fatal dose if not treated quickly.

Having said that, acetone tastes lousy and I recommend against drinking it.

Offline nycwoodworker

  • Posts: 33
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2021, 04:39 PM »
Acetone is actually one of the safer chemicals we use.  You can actually drink a small amount of it and your body will process it with no harm.  It is an irritant.  And that will generally be enough warning not to drink it. Even so, it is preferred as nail polish remover because it is relatively safer than all the other options.  A 150-pound person can actually consume 1.7 ounces without significant issues.  However, it quickly becomes dangerous.  If you drink twice that (3.4 ounces) that can be a fatal dose if not treated quickly.

Having said that, acetone tastes lousy and I recommend against drinking it.
Will keep this post in mind when I get thirsty on the job  [blink] [scared] [big grin]

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 623
Re: Removing Adhesive in Old Kitchen Cabinets
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2021, 04:43 PM »
I came across this last week where the article said that it was OK to consume foods that were exposed to small amount of acetone.  That most of it would evaporate in the cooking and besides which the body will digest it. 

That sounded so totally wrong that I googled it.

Acetone is really one of the more benign solvents we use in the shop.  Unfortunately it can't be used as a diluent for most finishes.