I recently bought an empty box for ten bucks. Yep. It’s what I do. This is a huge box that once held the GI Joe Killer WHALE Hovercraft, and it has some awesome graphics. Unfortunately, the box had been taped on all sides with ugly brown packing tape and many of the graphics were completely covered. Luckily, I know a trick on how to remove that nasty tape, and it’s name is Naphtha (you might know it as Ronsonol lighter fluid). Check out this before and after comparison:
I use a small paint brush dipped in the lighter fluid and brush it along the edge of the tape. The fluid literally melts away the adhesive residue, and the tape lifts off effortlessly. Continue applying the fluid while gently pulling the tape. Let the fluid do the work, and you won’t tear the paper. The lighter fluid will not harm the paper and it evaporates quickly.
This technique works great with coated (glossy) paper, but uncoated papers can be a bit trickier. I had a bit of the ink colors start to run on the back of the box, but slowed down the pace a bit and everything turned out okay–at least it’s better than that nasty tape. I can live with it:
The fumes from the lighter fluid can get overwhelming, so be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, and of course, don’t smoke!
I’ve used this technique to remove stickers from paperback books and tape from vintage movie posters with great results. I wouldn’t recommend doing any restoration on a valuable item, but there’s no reason not to give this technique a try on a less expensive item in your collection.