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Car decals are a way for you to express yourself to others on the road. I like them; I have nothing against them. Most of the time that I’ve removed a decal was because I didn’t like the one that came with the car I just purchased. Removing decals off a car window is generally easy, but it requires several steps to fully remove the decal and the residue left behind. I’ll be removing this old and cracked “Baby in car” decal for this tutorial.

When removing old decals off of your car, there are two stages to doing it. The first is the safe and effective removal of the decal, and the second is the elimination of decal residue. The decal residue can make a “ghost image” appear even though the window looks clean and free of residue. The longer the decal has been on the glass, the more likely you will having this “ghosting” effect left behind.

With the two procedures of removing the decal and cleaning up the residue left behind, there are a variety of methods for doing each. However, for this guide, I’ll show my two favorite ways to do it, which also happen to be, in my opinion, the fastest ways to do so.

Tools & Materials Used

Products Used in Decal Removal

Goo Gone Spray Gel
Utility Knife Blades
Saran Wrap or Plastic Bag

Products Used in Residue or “Ghost Image” Removal

Glass Cleaner
0000 Steel Wool
Paper towels, microfiber towels, or rags

How to Remove a Decal From a Car Window

I like to use the spray gel formula from Goo Gone because you can spray it on and it will stay suspended. By comparison, the regular Goo Gone formula runs down and doesn’t allow the product to soak as well as the gel formula.

Using the gel formula will give you some time to cover it with Saran wrap (or plastic bag, Ziploc, etc.) Essentially what you’re trying to do here is loosen up the decal first with the Goo Gone Adhesive Remover; the plastic keeps it saturated so that the decal can be removed from the glass much easier. Being exposed to direct sunlight also helps loosen up the decal from the glass.

After leaving the decal soaked in Goo Gone under the plastic for at least 5-10 minutes, remove the plastic and take your razor blade to slowly scrape off the decal. It should be quite easy to remove with the razor, but it will take some time to remove it all. Take your time, and eventually the entire thing should be scraped off.

After removal of the decal itself, clean the area well. You can either wash it with soap and water, or just use some glass cleaner to clean the area. You should then be left with a fairly clean surface where the decal used to be.

Now, you might think that you’re done, but you won’t truly know if there’s a ghost image left behind until you let the surface completely dry. After you wipe it with cleaner, the surface will stay moist for a while. When it does completely dry, you might see a ghost image of the decal you removed. You may even notice it only at certain angles. The ghost image left behind is actually residue that is stuck to the glass and can’t be removed from just normally cleaning the glass.

How to Remove Ghosting Left Behind from a Decal

The reason why we use 0000 steel wool is because it has such fine steel strands that won’t scratch your car’s glass. When you use it in conjunction with glass cleaner, it removes the residue that is left that is causing the ghosting effect. You could even use other abrasives like compounds or polishes, or even household abrasive cleaners. But in my experience, 0000 steel wool and glass cleaner does an excellent job at deep cleaning your glass quickly without damaging it. You could also use the Goo Gone adhesive remover you used earlier along with the 0000 steel wool.

As you can see below, a bit of elbow grease with the 0000 steel wool and glass cleaner removes the leftover residue. It’s good to use a glass cleaner because glass cleaner will evaporate quickly. This allows you to scrub with the steel wool, then clean the area with glass cleaner to check your progress.

Continue scrubbing the area more with the 0000 steel wool and glass cleaner and you’ll eventually remove it completely. The residue does get all over the place, so you can see that the residue has gotten onto the nearby areas of the glass, which will need to be removed with the same cleaning process. You should also consider using different sections of the steel wool and even changing it out when it gets too clogged up with residue.

I hope this guide has aided you in finding out how to remove a decal from your car window, as well as how to completely remove the residue that is left behind. I’ve tested all kinds of different ways of removing decals from glass and what I’ve laid out here on this post is my go-to for doing it quickly and safely. Good luck!


Hi there! I'm Scott and I run The Track Ahead. My goal is to write helpful articles, tutorials, and reviews based on my personal experience with car maintenance and detailing. I've been wrenching on and detailing cars for 15+ years and now share my knowledge with others on this site to help them care for their vehicles.

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