Sticky Plastic and How to Fix It

Sticky Plastic and How to Fix It

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You find the darndest things when you are organizing, and not all of them are good. There are plenty of good things to stick to, but plastic gadgets aren’t on the top of the list. If you have something that is oddly sticky, here’s how to clean plastic that has become sticky, like remote controls and hard plastic toys.

How to fix sticky plastic

There are plenty of good things to stick to, but plastic gadgets aren't on the top of the list. If you have something that is oddly sticky, here's how to clean plastic that has become sticky. Click To Tweet

I have this lovely Bose stereo that really does sound amazing, but lately I didn’t want to go near it because the controller for it was sticky on the back. Yuck.

Sticky Plastic and How to Fix It

I’ve seen this happen before to client’s things, especially old toys, dolls, and game console controllers. After a little research, it seems that some plastic items might have some sort of coating that breaks down over time, and becomes sticky. The trick is to clean off the coating. I tried cleaning it with rubbing alcohol, which didn’t help at all.Sticky Plastic and How to Fix It remote cntrol

Orange essential oil is great for removing price stickers, and it also worked a bit here, but it’s kind of an expensive solution.

orange oil cleans sticky plastic

What worked the best was good old baking soda and water.

baking soda cleans sticky plastic

Mix just a pinch of each to form a paste, then scrub the sticky plastic item with bare hands. It worked like a charm. Avoid the impulse to reach for a green scrub pad, because that will scratch the plastic.

baking soda works to clean sticky plastic

I probably used less than a teaspoon of baking soda to clean the back of this hard plastic remote control. It took me about 10 minutes to get the whole thing cleared. You can see it in action here on the right side (below).

cleaned sticky plastic with baking soda

If you tackle electronics, be sure to wipe out the battery compartment and let it dry, or you’ll be dealing with other problems before long.

cleaning sticky plastic and battery compartments

I was really thrilled with how easy this solution was. Some things that develop a sticky film really are outdated, and that sticky film might just be nature’s way of telling you to declutter, but that wasn’t the case for the remote control of my beloved stereo.

cleaned and fixed sticky plastic

Do you keep things for a long time? Have you ever run into the problem of some hard plastic item developing a weird sticky coating? Did this solution work for you, too?

8 Responses to Sticky Plastic and How to Fix It

  1. Hello,

    First I’d like to say thanks for writing this, just because… donating your own time trying to help others deserves acknowledgement. I too developed an issue with an old, old Vizio VU42L TV remote becoming SO badly gunked up that I could actually stick it to horizontal surfaces.

    I wanted to add my story for your knowledge and anyone else reading. I tried your Baking Soda method first and must say it did improve the surface quality of the remote, almost back to shiny-new in some places. However it got extremely messy at times, and some patches just would not respond to the treatment, no matter what variation or technique, etc. So back to the drawing board.

    And the drawing board delivered on this one. And in my humble opinion, not to purposely 1-up you… I feel that it may be the absolute best possible fix for this problem in existence. The only drawback is what makes your Baking Soda method still very appealing… which is the use of strictly natural ingredients. Because my fix does involve obtaining and using automotive-based chemicals (although not dangerous ones by any means), so if that concern makes this choice not up your alley – read no further.

    But the stuff I got is called “Mother’s Plastic Polish” in a little red squirt-bottle ( And it’s a liquid with little abrasive particles in it normally meant to buff & shine plastic parts on cars. But I can’t emphasize enough how instantaneously this Mother’s polish worked. The 50% of remaining problem-areas that had taken ~30 minutes of intense elbow-grease just to get that far… were then fixed with ONE SINGLE rub-down with a shammy cloth dabbed with the Plastic Polish on it. Literally took 15 seconds to fix the rest of the sticky spots, and in general made the remote look even more sparkly/shiny new. The only other drawback I’ve noticed was it does leave the slight odor a typical cleaner you’d use for your house or car (Windex, etc.) and in only 3-4 hours has already diminished greatly.

    Hopefully that can provide a second option for anyone with extremely difficult cases of this, and thank you for allowing me to post. Have a nice day.


  2. I had no hope for a very sticky Casablanca ceiling fan remote. Tried dish detergent but that just pushed the sticky around. Brainstorm! Murphy’s oil soap and DONE!!! Dampen a wash cloth with hot water and wring out excess water, dampen wash cloth with oil soap full strength and clean remote or sticky plastic. Rinse wash cloth then wipe remote, repeat, should be free of any sticky!

  3. I just cleaned an old radio and a heater remote just by using clear hand cleaner and a toothbrush. apply, scrub it around real good and wipe with a good thick terrycloth rag. repeat as needed. worked great!!!

    • Thanks for sharing! Not sure if both of your items were sticky or just dirty. That sticky stuff is hard to get rid of, so having a couple of different things to try is a good bet.

  4. Thanks for the advice and comments as it all led me to my solution. I use Goo Gone wipes for scrapbooking to remove sticky tape and glue from tools. I decided to try them first. I used a wipe for each remote. One fireplace and one fan. I was done in less then two minutes cleaning both. The fan remote had been sticky for three years. I am so happy to finally get them clean.

  5. I used finger nail polish remover and it worked like a charm. I rinsed the part with a damp paper towel a few times when I was done.

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