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How to Remove Weatherstripping Adhesive Without Damaging Your Paint

You’re in the garage, you’re tackling that weatherstripping project (thanks to the killer parts you got from Steele Rubber Products, of course) but you’ve got some old, stubborn adhesive standing in your way that just won’t give up. You know that surface prep is extremely important when it comes to applying adhesive for the new parts- it’s a step you just can’t skip.

Or, let’s say you’re installing your new weatherstripping and some fresh adhesive squeezes out from underneath the weatherstrip and onto your beautiful paint job. That stuff can be a messy nightmare so there’s no rubbing it off with a rag.

What do you do now? We’ve got answers that’ll make life easy for you.

Materials needed:

3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner (3M Product 08987)

Nitrile gloves

Shop towel or soft rag

Plastic scraper tool (like our very own scraper/tuck tool)

Before we start, let’s first discuss the 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner. It works by softening sticky substances that are stubborn to remove. It was originally designed with auto body repair and detail shops in mind so it’s safe on painted surfaces as well as vinyl or glass. There is one thing you must be cautious about when using it though- this is the warning straight from 3M: “Will not dissolve or harm automotive paint that has been properly aged.” Basically, they’re saying you cannot use this stuff on fresh paint, folks.

I asked around to several of the professional builders that we do business with, as well as good old Google and I’ve heard that it takes anywhere from 4 weeks to 90 days for paint to fully cure. Most of the answers I received hover around the 4-6 weeks mark but be sure to ask your painter or read the label for the curing time for the particular paint you used. If your paint is any fresher than that, don’t use it. Better safe than sorry.

Next- we recommend gloves because this stuff can be rough on your hands. It’ll strip them of all their natural oils. If you don’t like rough, dry hands put on the gloves.

Step 1– Starting out, we’ll assume the area is free of any debris- if it’s not, you’ll want to get it that way. You can use the plastic scraper tool and an air hose to get all the loose stuff out. The plastic scraper tool is made of a plastic that’s soft enough that it doesn’t scratch, but is hard enough to do some work.

Step 2– While wearing gloves, spray the 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner on the areas that won’t come off and let it sit for a few minutes so it can work its magic. Please be aware- this stuff is liquid, and it will run. Protect any areas where you don’t want it running to.

Step 3– After a few minutes take your rag and try wiping it off. It may take a few tries with the spray to fully penetrate the adhesive and break down its grip on the metal, but it will work. For those extra hard to remove places, you can nudge things along with your plastic scraper tool.

And that’s it! Just those 3 simple steps.

Once you’ve removed all that stubborn adhesive, you’re done. Just make sure to clean the area of any oils or solvents before using the new adhesive.

Sometimes we get the question, “How clean does the surface need to be?” The answer is- pretty clean. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Adhesive struggles to adhere to bumpy, sharp, porous surfaces, so long as the majority of the surface is clean and smooth, you should be just fine.

Steele not only has all the products you need but all the knowledge you need to get the job done right, too. If you have questions about Rubber Parts or Weatherstripping on your Classic Car, Truck, Hot Rod or even your boat, trailer or RV, feel free to reach out to us! You can call us at 800-650-4482, contact us through our website or comment on this post and we’ll get you answers as quickly as possible. Check out our YouTube channel for our full library of how-to/installation videos.

Steele Rubber Products, located in Denver, NC, is a manufacturer and seller of high-quality rubber parts and weatherstripping products for classic and vintage automobiles, hot rods, RVs and Boats. Steele offers more than 12,000 parts for cars and trucks as well as a large line of universal weatherstripping and rubber parts to be used on any project. Established in 1958, Steele is a trusted name in the automotive restoration industry.