How To Remove Iron on Patch Adhesive and Residue (Tips and Techniques)

removing patch residue

How To Remove Iron on Patch Residue

Iron-on patches are handy, but if you’re like me, you don’t trust the iron-on adhesive. I always iron patches on then stitch around them. Stitches are easy to remove, but then I have to gently pull and tug to remove the part that was adhered.

In the end, the patches are relatively easy to remove, but on occasion, they leave behind some sticky residue on the fabric. You’ll see the residue because it will look shiny in spots, creating a blotchy look on the fabric. Don’t worry – that residue is removable.

Goo Gone

My favorite product to use is Goo Gone. While it says it is safe for fabric, you should always test it using a small amount in an inconspicuous area.

It usually does not take very long to remove adhesive when using the Goo Gone product. Simply dab some onto a clean cloth and rub it onto the adhesive you want to remove.

If it is stubborn, or if the cloth is leaving behind too much lint, use an old soft bristle toothbrush to work the Goo Gone into the adhesive. Keep brushing or rubbing the adhesive with Goo Gone until it dissolves.

After the adhesive is gone, wash the object if it is machine washable. If it is not machine washable, use a little gentle soap to wash the area and rinse it gently with cold water. Allow the item to hang dry or lie flat to dry to avoid drying any Goo Gone that might still linger.

One of the things I appreciate most about Goo Gone is that it can be used on so many different surfaces. We consider it a staple in our house and keep it with our cleaning supplies.

Home Remedies That Can Remove Residue

If you want to try a few home remedies before resulting to the adhesive remover, here are a few to try.

Freeze It

Put the item in a plastic bag, then inside your freezer for 24 hours. The next day, place a towel or paper towels on a stable flat surface (like a table or countertop) and lay the item on top. Use the edge of a table knife to scrape off the residue. This often works if you are removing a small patch in an isolated area. Bigger areas generally need more work, like a solvent.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover with acetone can be used to break down the remaining adhesive. Dab it onto the adhesive residue with a cotton ball and give it a few minutes to break down the glue.  Use tweezers to pick the residue off the item, or an old toothbrush to sweep it all off the item. Important note: don’t use acetone on fabrics made with acetate. Before using on polyester fabrics, test for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area using a clean white cloth, cotton ball, or cotton swab. If any color transfers from the fabric onto the cloth/cotton, don’t use the nail polish to remove the residue. Try vinegar instead.

White Vinegar

Pour a quarter cup of white vinegar into a microwave safe dish and heat it for about 30 seconds. Use the warm vinegar to loosen the adhesive by dabbing it onto the residue using a clean lint-free cloth. Totally saturate the area with the warm white vinegar. Within a few minutes, you should be able to scrape off the adhesive. If it is not removing it all, reheat the cup of vinegar and saturate the item with more while still warm. Use a knife that is not sharp (like a butter knife) or the end of a spatula or spoon to scrape off the patch residue.You will definitely want to wash the item after treating the residue with vinegar to remove the strong smell.

Rubbing alcohol 

Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is another product you probably already have around the house that you can use to remove adhesive residue. Try soaking a plain paper towel in alcohol then laying it on top of the adhesive for about a half hour. After that, dip it back in some alcohol and rub it directly onto the residue. Use a dull edge, like the tip of a spoon, to scrape up the residue.

Tips For Removing Iron on Patch Adhesive

  • If you do not have an old soft bristle toothbrush to spare, a soft nail brush will also work.
  • When the adhesive is on a strong fabric like heavy canvas or denim, you might try a more vigorous scrub.I have even used my battery-powered bathroom scrub brush (clean, of course)  for a short burst of scrubbing power to remove tough residue.
  • Not that you would ever have an iron-on patch on specialty fabrics like satin, chiffon, or georgette, but if you did need to remove adhesive from those fabrics, take them to a dry cleaner for professional treatment. Be sure to point out the areas of adhesive on the items so the cleaner can remove all the adhesive.
  • If cotton balls are leaving too much lint behind, use a piece of an old white t-shirt instead. You can bundle it together to give it some fluff if needed. An old tea towel would also be helpful in this case.
  • If lint remains on the fabric after the adhesive is gone, use a piece of blue painters tape to pick up the lint. The blue version of tape has an easier release than regular masking tape does.
  • If possible, avoid future adhesive issues by sewing on your patches. While this may not always be an option, sewing definitely makes patches easier to remove with nothing more than just a seam ripper. You can actually combine ironing and sewing for most patches. Instead of ironing on the entire patch, just use the tip of your iron to adhere a small section in the center. Then, stitch around the edges of the patch to secure it in place. This helps you keep future adhesive residue to a minimum if you should ever have the need to remove the patch.
  • Finally, If you don’t have any of the solvents listed above, try reheating the adhesive by warming it with a hair dryer set to low heat. Blow the low heat onto the back side of the item to loosen the adhesive on the front side. Use a blunt edge of a spoon to scrape up the adhesive.
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