Dear TMH: Removing Carpet Tape and Finding Fire Extinguishers

In this edition of Dear TMH I test out a couple different methods to find the best way to remove one of the stickiest products known to man – carpet tape, and give some advice on where to find the best kitchen fire extinguisher. Want me to test out a recipe or a cleaning tactic you’ve heard about? I’ll do that, too. Just e-mail manlyhousekeeper@gmail.com, or post a note in the comments.

After reading my story about how to clean an apartment before moving out, Samantha posted a comment:

A question for you: I put carpet strips on the ladder to my loft. And, yes, I (stupidly) used carpet tape. Any ideas for how I can get that stuff off?

I don’t have any personal experience removing carpet tape, but I’ve been plenty of places where I’ve seen remnants of carpet tape left behind. I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to test out a couple different removal options. I followed up with Samantha and she told me her steps were painted. I headed out to Home Depot, grabbed a roll of carpet tape and some painted baseboard to serve in place of a wooden step.

As you can see from the top photo, I tested four removal strategies I had seen mentioned various places online: Heating the tape with a hair dryer, spraying it with WD-40, soaking it in Goo Gone, and soaking it in nail polish remover. From least to most effective:

4. Nail polish remover: The main ingredient in nail polish remover is acetone. Acetone is also commonly used as a paint stripper. Nail polish remover will unquestionably damage the paint on your steps. The acetone also wasn’t as effective at getting underneath the carpet tape.

3. Goo Gone: Goo Gone and WD-40 are similar products. They are both oil-based products that pledge to remove stuck-on gunk. I found the Goo Gone dissolved the tape, without penetrating as far beneath it. In other words, cleaning up the carpet tape with Goo Gone made more of a mess.

2. Hair dryer: I struggled with where to put the hair dryer on this list. In many ways it’s either the best or worst way to clean up carpet tape. Naturally, as a result I’m ranking it second. Here’s why the hair dryer is so hard to categorize: It melts the glue holding the tape together, so you can pull up the string skeleton of the tape. I was doing my test with fresh carpet tape that hadn’t been stepped on for months or years on end. It’s possible that the only way to get rid of old carpet tape is with a hair dryer. BUT, as you can see from the photo, removing the skeleton of the tape is really only half the battle, and you’ve left behind hundreds of globules of  adhesive that are now extra sticky because you’ve warmed them up.

These are VERY hard to remove without that skeleton holding everything together. After spraying the remaining tape with WD-40 and scraping with a screwdriver and razor blade I was able to get the adhesive off, but the wood wasn’t very pretty afterward. I would save the hair dryer to use as a last resort.

1. WD-40: I found WD-40 easier to apply than Goo Gone, and it worked faster. I let the WD-40 sit for a few minutes, then I carefully pulled on the tape. With older tape, I would let the WD-40 sit even longer – try 30-60 minutes.

There’s one major caveat to all of these techniques, however. It’s likely the paint will be ruined. You can see how both the WD-40 and Goo Gone have stained the white paint. This was a thin coat of flat paint, and it’s possible glossy paint will respond better. Whatever the case, it’s more than likely that after you remove the carpet tape, you’ll have to repaint your stairs.

After reading my post about the importance of having a fire extinguisher, reader Mark sent me an e-mail, which read in part:

I can’t find the Kidde kitchen fire extinguisher anywhere. Home Depot stocks Kidde products but doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, and everywhere else (Target, Lowes) they all carry First Alert brands. Where did you get yours?

I had an identical experience shopping for mine. My local Home Depot carries other Kidde products, but not the kitchen fire extinguisher. The kitchen extinguisher they do carry (a model from HomeHero) is actually rated the worst in the Cook’s Illustrated test. I ended up buying mine at the local independent Ace Hardware store.

I spoke with a customer service representative at Kidde today, and she said not all stores carry all products, but she didn’t know of any other reasons why their kitchen extinguishers might be harder to find. Amazon does carry it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=554317348 Samantha Page

    Thanks!! I’ll pick up some WD-40 and let you know how it fares with older carpet tape (and about fifty layer of paint). 

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