How to Remove an Inspection Sticker Without Damaging It

Whether you are replacing the windshield or have any other reason to remove an inspection sticker, getting it off the glass can be difficult. The adhesive on an inspection sticker is made to last, and removing it improperly can take off the adhesive. So, how do you remove an inspection sticker from the windshield without damaging it?

There are certain solutions that work best when trying to remove an inspection sticker. If you do not want to damage it, you must make sure to be extremely careful. Additionally, you do not want to scratch or crack your windshield.

Read on to learn how to remove an inspection sticker and reuse it. With the steps below, you will learn what tools you need, how to properly remove the inspection sticker without damaging it, and what to do if you want to apply it somewhere else.

Windshield without the inspection sticker.

Gather What You Need

Simply trying to peel the inspection sticker off of your windshield is not the ideal way to remove it without damaging it. Chances are that not using some sort of solution to aid the process will result in clumps of the sticker coming off at a time. Do not try removing your inspection sticker without additional tools necessary. Doing so can make the sticker lose its adhesive or tear into pieces.

From the steps below, you will have a better idea of what exactly you will need. Basically, get some type of solution, be it window cleaner, a goo and adhesive remover, or, if you have experience, a product you are more familiar with. You will also need a razor blade to actually remove the sticker. Have water and a towel nearby for the next step in the process. Once you have everything you need, you are ready to remove the inspection sticker without damaging it.

Clean Your Windshield

Before trying to remove your inspection sticker without damaging it, you need a clean slate to work with. And dust, dirt, or other grime around the sticker can disrupt the process. One moment, the razor blade can be sailing smoothly across the surface. The next, even the smallest clump can send the razorblade to cause a slice through the sticker. In addition to removing particles to make the removal of the sticker easier, it prevents miscellaneous material from sticking to the adhesive.

To clean the area, all you need is water and a towel. It is not entirely necessary to disinfect the windshield, so a splash of water should work fine. The point of cleaning the windshield is to loosen any residue around the sticker. Pour a cup of water on your windshield, or just spray it with a nearby hose. Wipe the area dry with the towel, making sure that any noticeable areas with debris receive enough pressure that the debris falls off the windshield. Once the windshield is dry and debris-free, you can move to the next step.

Do Not Heat the Sticker

One problem that people face when trying to remove an inspection sticker without damaging it involves heating the sticker to make for easier removal. Yes, heating the sticker with a blow dryer does make the sticker come off easily, but not in a way that makes the sticker salvageable and reusable. The heat from something like a blow dryer will melt the adhesive, ruin the sticking ability of your sticker, and leave an additional mess to clean off of your windshield.

If you are wanting to learn how to remove an inspection sticker without damaging it, it is probably because you are planning to move the sticker from an old windshield to a new windshield. Heating the sticker and melting the adhesive will prevent you from being able to do so. In fact, as you will learn shortly, cooling the sticker can be beneficial in keeping the adhesive intact.

Spray Window Cleaner

One of the most common ways to remove an inspection sticker without damaging it is by first spraying it with window cleaner. Spray the window cleaner on and around the sticker, and let it sit for anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. By giving the window cleaner time to soak onto the sticker, this allows the adhesive to loosen up, making it easier to remove the sticker without damaging it.

Once the window cleaner has soaked for a bit, you will be ready to begin scraping the sticker off very carefully. However, as you will see below, it is worth noting that you do not have to use window cleaner. Several household items can work in place of window cleaner and razorblade. Still, this is a practical approach that can remove the sticker and keep it intact completely.

Use a Goo and Adhesive Remover

Instead of a window cleaner, you could use a goo and adhesive remover. A solution such as this works excellently in loosening the adhesive of the inspection sticker to make for a clean removal without damage. Apply a thin layer of goo and adhesive remover on and around the sticker, and again, let it soak for a bit. Afterward, you should have the same ease of removal as you would with a window cleaner.

The main difference between window cleaner and goo and adhesive remover is that a good and adhesive remover can be much more effective. While this could mean you do not have to wait 30 minutes for it to soak under the sticker, it is also something to be wary of. Using too much goo and adhesive remover or leaving it on for too long will take off all of the adhesive. Of course, this can be expected for a product that says it removes adhesive, but if used the correct way, you can salvage the sticker.

Substitute With Rubbing Alcohol

You might also opt for rubbing alcohol, especially if you already have some. Rubbing alcohol works effectively to dissolve the adhesive of a sticker, but again, you must be careful. If it is left on for too long, it will take away most of the adhesive, making it difficult to reuse the inspection sticker.

If you opt to use rubbing alcohol, get a paper towel and lightly dampen it with the rubbing alcohol. Press the towel onto the sticker, ensuring that the entire surface area of the inspection sticker has rubbing alcohol on top of it. A common mistake made when using rubbing alcohol is that it is not spread evenly throughout the sticker, so some adhesive dissolves completely, while adhesive that stays fully intact sticks to the windshield and causes the sticker to tear upon removal.

Use Ice to Aid the Process

If the products you use do not seem to be working successfully, you might need a bit more help. You can use ice to help previously applied solutions in loosening the adhesive of your inspection sticker. By placing the ice on the sticker and moving it around, instead of melting the adhesive like a blow dryer, the ice can essentially freeze the adhesive, making it momentarily stiffer and thus separating it from the windshield.

As with all of the methods listed, you must be careful when using ice to remove an inspection sticker without damaging it. If you apply the ice for too long, it will start to melt. If this happens, water can seep underneath the inspection sticker and disrupt the abilities of the adhesive. This can be a pain when reusing an inspection sticker. Even if only a little corner of the adhesive comes off of the sticker, it can result in a corner that does not stick and always poses the risk of peeling more.

Clean the New Spot

While you are waiting for whatever you use to soak underneath your inspection sticker, you can take the time to clean the new area where you will place the inspection sticker. Likely, it will be moved to a different windshield. If this is the case, the windshield will need to be cleaned in preparation for the inspection sticker. Especially after removing it from its first location, an inspection sticker may not retain 100% of its original adhesive. Any debris on the new windshield can make it more difficult for the inspection sticker to stay on.

Just as with the earlier step, clean the new windshield with water and a towel. Make sure that the area where you will put the inspection sticker is spotless. Scrub off all existing debris, making a clean slate for the inspection sticker to stay on. You might also consider keeping a dust rag around to wipe the windshield with again right before you remove the inspection sticker from the old windshield and place it onto the new one.

Scrape the Sticker Off

Once you have successfully applied whatever product you decide to use onto your inspection sticker, waited for it to soak underneath the inspection sticker and loosen the adhesive, and made sure there are no spots where the adhesive remains strong, you can scrape the sticker off. Most times, a razor blade will work just fine; of course, as long as you are careful. With the edge of a razor blade being as sharp as it is, improper use can lead to damage to your vehicle or yourself.

Make sure none of the product you used to loosen the adhesive is on your hands. You need a dry, clean grip while using the razor blade. When you are ready, find one of the loose corners of the inspection sticker and very gently begin scraping the sticker off of the windshield. Ideally, you want to scrape in between the windshield and the sticker, right through the adhesive.

Scrape diagonally, from a top corner to the opposite bottom corner, or vice versa. As you scrape, hold the peeled portion of the sticker with your other hand, making sure to move down the sticker as it is removed to prevent it from tearing. If you do this correctly, you can remove the sticker without damaging it and salvage most of the adhesive for reapplication. If you do not have a razor blade, you can use a sharp knife, a box-cutter, or anything else with a fine enough edge to cleanly remove the inspection sticker.

Apply Sticker Elsewhere

If you want to reuse the inspection sticker, you first need to make sure your new windshield is spotless. Then, place it gently onto the surface of the windshield, making sure you lay it out flatly, preventing any air bubbles from getting in. As long as you have followed the methods above to ensure that the inspection sticker retains as much adhesive as possible, it should not be much trouble reapplying it to a new location.

If you do not have your new windshield yet, you might be worried about how to salvage your inspection sticker. This is a simple fix. You can place the inspection sticker on a piece of wax paper to help preserve the existing adhesive. To make sure it stays completely undisturbed, you might consider placing the wax paper inside a container to prevent any debris from sliding underneath the sticker, especially if you do not know when the new windshield will be available.

Clean Existing Residue

Going back to your first windshield, you may want to clean up the mess. Particularly if that windshield will be reused, be it for a car or anything else, you will want to clean the residue off of the area where you removed the inspection sticker. As mentioned, the inspection sticker may not retain 100% of the adhesive. Chances are that there will at least be some remaining adhesive left on the windshield.

To remove the existing residue, you can use whatever product you used to loosen the initial adhesive for removing your inspection sticker. Whether it was window cleaner, goo and adhesive remover, or whatever else, put more onto the area with residue and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Once it has had time to loosen the existing residue, you can carefully use the razor blade to scrape it off, or, if it is loose enough, wipe away the existing mess with a towel.

Use Spray Adhesive as a Last Resort

Even if you follow the guidelines above perfectly, the result may not come out completely damage-free. One problem you could face might be that there was not enough adhesive retained on the inspection sticker. If this happens, get a spray adhesive and apply it to the back of the inspection sticker. If anything, this can act as a temporary placeholder to keep your inspection sticker as secure as possible on your new windshield.

Final Words

You must be very careful when removing an inspection sticker without damaging it. One wrong move and you can ruin the entire process. With the proper materials, good patience, and a steady hand, it is possible to remove your inspection sticker without damaging it.

You may also want to read: How Much Is an Inspection for a Car?

Scroll to Top