How To Get That #@%! City Sticker Off Your Windshield
10 Tips For Making Removing Last Year’s Sticker A Breeze
Every June, or early July, it’s the same thing.
You schlep outside onto the street or into the garage to place your spankin’ new Chicago city vehicle sticker onto your windshield but then…
You realize you have to remove last year’s sticker first.
And you start swearing under your breath, because that damn sticker is a real bitch to scrape off!
Didn’t a lot of last year’s city stickers just spontaneously peel off some driver’s windshields? What the heck?
Removing your city sticker is always a pain in the butt. And when you’re done, you need an couple of aspirin and a stiff drink.
Outside of replacing the whole darn windshield, there has to be an easier way.
Actually, there seems to be several easier ways.
The Parking Ticket Geek has been on a quest to round up all the very best tips and advice for getting that #@%! city sticker off your windshield. And here’s what we’ve found.
The first person we spoke to was Kristine Williams. She’s the Media Spokesperson for Chicago’s City Clerk Office. She knows a lot about city stickers as her office issues over 1.3 million of these stickers every darn year. In fact, for nearly eight weeks each year, from late May through late July, Williams has one single, solitary preoccupation–city stickers.
But Williams, gathered a handful of tips from staff and drivers who’ve come through the City Clerk’s offices.
Before getting into the full list of top tips, Williams’ first bit of general advice comes from a manager for the City Clerk’s licensing division. “Marion Alford-Linton, recommends people go slow and easy when removing their stickers,” says Williams. “She has found that it is less frustrating and comes off easier when going nice and slow.”
“Clerk Mendoza uses Windex brand window cleaner – no other brand will do! – and paper
towels to spray the city sticker first,” says Williams. “She then proceeds to use a methodical,
almost surgical-like precision, to remove her sticker. She pulls at the sticker a bit, sprays and then chips at it with a razor blade little by little. Pull, spray, chip over and over.”
Williams says that Clerk Mendoza takes great pride in removing the sticker intact without ripping it to shreds.
TIP #2 Scotch Tape
Cover the sticker with Scotch tape, so it extends a bit beyond the edges. Then, use a razor blade to cut around the sticker. It should peel off along with the tape.
I would guess 2″ clear packing tape may work as well, if not better.
Peanut butter? No seriously, Skippy, Jif…peanut butter!
“One person told me she puts peanut butter on her sticker, lets it sit and then scrapes it off with a razor blade,” explained Williams. “Yes, we all thought she was crazy, but she swore it works better than just scraping.”
TIP #4 Run The Defrost
Supposedly, running your defrost on hot during a sunny and hot day will do the trick.
“Another person told me he turns on the car defrost to loosen the sticker up,” says Williams. “He said he lets the defrost run for about 5 – 10 minutes and it loosens the sticker right up.”
Similarly, other readers suggest plugging in a hair dryer and heating up the sticker until the adhesive warms and loosens up.
TIP #5 Dishwashing Liquid
Long time reader The Angry Chicagoan proposes an idea that requires some foresight. He recommends treating your new city sticker in such a way, that next year, it can be removed easily with no elbow grease at all.
“Put a drop of dish washing liquid on the sticker,” explains the Angry Chicagoan. “run it all over the sticker so there is a thin film. It will dry out when you stick it to the windshield and you can easily remove it. You can’t tell it’s not permanently attached.”
Hopefully, your city sticker doesn’t completely detach over the course of the year, especially with the cold winters we have in Chicago.
Another pro-active idea was suggested by a handful of readers who recommend investing about $5-$6 in Sticker Shield. It’s a transparent plastic sleeve that you slip your city sticker into, and affix directly onto the windshield. Allegedly it’s completely invisible if applied correctly.
The only problem is that it is technically illegal to use something like this. You can be ticketed ($120) because you are again, technically, not displaying your city sticker properly.
We have no idea how often drivers using or similar products, actually get caught and/or ticketed, but there have been readers who have been stung with a $120 ticket. Parking enforcement aides and City Clerk personnel strongly suggest against using this product because of the risk of ticket, but other readers say Sticker Shield works great. So, who knows?
You can find Sticker Shield at the checkout lanes of stores like Menard’s, Ace Hardware, True Value Hardware and some auto parts stores.
Another reader, named Loni, sent us a suggestion she used, which she found online.
“Hack away at the of the city sticker with a razor blade until most of it is removed,” explains Loni. “Squirt WD-40 on the whatever pieces remaining, let it soak for a few moments. Then wipe with a damp cloth. That should take care of the rest.”
TIP #8 Goo Gone
Like lacquer thinner, in general, it seems by using some sort of liquid or chemical adhesive remover like Goo Gone (which several readers have suggested), and a razor blade, you should have that old sticker off and the new city sticker on in a jiffy.
Tip #9 Ice Pack
Here’s a relatively new tip. A reader suggests making an ice pack or using one of those plastic ice packs and placing it against the city sticker. After a few minutes, whip out your trusty razor blade and go to town. The sticker allegedly comes right off.
We thought it might be a good idea to try a local hardware store to see what they suggest. Perhaps there was a power tool for the job.
We stumbled into Kabbe’s True Value Hardware, at 2550 W. Diversey in the Avondale neighborhood and spoke to the friendly staff there.
“Lacquer thinner,” said one of the clerks. “Soak it in a little lacquer thinner, and take a razor blade to it and it will come right off. Rubbing alcohol works too, but lacquer thinner is stronger and faster.”
Unfortunately, the hardware store had no power tools for the job. I was shocked that even in the 21st Century, the classic razor blade is still the weapon of choice in removing decals from windshields.
So grab your razor blade, get to work and please feel free to add your suggestions for removing city stickers to the comments below.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece is one of several columns we publish annually to help drivers who may not have seen this advice previously.