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How To Remove Recent US Stamps From Paper

Modern self-adhesive stamps, especially the ones from the U.S., are unsoakable. As a collector of used stamps, I found this out the hard way. so I did research to learn if there were any other ways to get these stamps off-paper. The following method is based on an article from the APS. ( This method uses Pure Citrus Air Freshener, which is natural, as opposed to other methods which use chemicals which probably aren't very healthful to work with and breathe the fumes.

Simple supplies needed

Simple supplies needed

What You Need

- Pure Citrus Air Freshener (comes in a spray can, you can get it at Walmart. You need the Orange or Citrus scent)

- A hard, flat, smooth surface (my work table is wood and rather rough, so I use a small piece of plexiglass).

- An old credit card, or similar straight edge, to remove the adhesive from the stamp.

- Paper towels

- A small tray to hold the stamp when you apply the air freshener (I used a plastic lid from a raisin can).

- Stamp tongs (any good stamp collector knows you should always use tongs, but for the pictures that follow I just used my fingers.)

- Glass bottle w/glass eye dropper (using a spray can gets messy, so I put the Air Freshener in a small glass bottle with a glass eyedropper. Just spray the stuff into a funnel set in the mouth of a bottle. The reason for using glass is because the air freshener can dissolve some plastics).

- Talc baby powder (not the kind with cornstarch)

Step By Step

First, lay out your work area. The air freshener starts to evaporate quickly, so it helps to have everything right where you need it so you can work quickly and smoothly.

1. Lay your stamp face down on the small tray .

2. Put a couple of drops of air freshener on the back, to moisten the envelope. (or spray lightly if you are using the spray can).

A few drops of Pure Citrus on the back of the stamp.

A few drops of Pure Citrus on the back of the stamp.

3. Wait about 5-10 seconds, then begin to carefully peel off the backing paper from the stamp, being careful not to crease the stamp itself. If you use stamp tongs, you can usually slide the tongs between the stamp and the backing, but make sure you don't accidentally catch the tongs on the perfs.

Be careful not to bend or crease the stamp as you peel the backing off.

Be careful not to bend or crease the stamp as you peel the backing off.

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4. When you have removed the paper from the stamp, the adhesive residue still remains. Lay the stamp face down in the tray again, and add another drop or two of Pure Citrus.

5. After about 5 seconds, place the stamp face down on a hard smooth surface. Using the edge of a credit card carefully scrape away the adhesive. I start in the middle of a stamp and go to one end, then the other, to avoid accidentally catching the card on the perforations. This should remove all the adhesive, but you can repeat as necessary.

I start in the middle of the stamp and work toward each end, to avoid catching the perfs

I start in the middle of the stamp and work toward each end, to avoid catching the perfs

Closeup of the adhesive gel being removed

Closeup of the adhesive gel being removed

6. If any tiny bits of adhesive remain, or if any gets on the front of the stamp, you can wet a paper towel or something similar with some more Pure Citrus, and lightly wipe the stamp.

7. Lay the paper face down on a clean paper towel to dry.

8. Be sure to clean off your hard surface between each stamp, using Pure Citrus on a paper towel. Otherwise the adhesive residue may end up on the front of your stamp, necessitating more cleaning.

9. When the stamp is dry, there may be a slight stickiness left on the back of the stamp. If so, dust the stamp lightly with talc baby powder. Usually the stamps remain flat, but if they curl, you can easily press them flat with a stamp drying book.


At first, this method may seem rather messy. But once you get a little practice, and organize your work table and work flow, you'll find it's actually a pretty simple system. I find that sometimes the orange scent can get overwhelming, but with good ventilation and working on small batches at a time, it's not that bad. And I haven't ruined a single stamp yet!


Connie120 (author) on June 23, 2014:

I've never tried it, and never heard of anybody who did, so I don't know if it would work. I do know it would be much more expensive. Maybe you could try it on a few cheap stamps, and let us know the results, please.

Nadiah on June 22, 2014:

Does orange essential oil work just as well? The important thing here is that there is d-limonene present...

Connie120 (author) on July 31, 2013:

Yes, I've done that before, and it works great. That stuff is marvelous!

Gracie L Sprouse from Virginia on July 30, 2013:

Wonderful idea. Thank you very much. I wonder if you could use this to remove sticker residue on books.

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