View Full Version : Best Solvent To Remove Film Holder Tape ?

Ken Lee
27-Dec-2009, 12:37
I am replacing the tape on some old film holders.

What is the best solvent to remove the existing tape ?

I have tried Laquer Thinner, but it's a struggle.

27-Dec-2009, 12:57
I am replacing the tape on some old film holders.

What is the best solvent to remove the existing tape ?

I have tried Laquer Thinner, but it's a struggle.

Not sure if this would be the best, but you might try ethyl alcohol (i.e., Everclear at the liquor store). You may be lucky and find it will soften the old glue sufficiently to get the tape off. The good news is it is a low toxicity solvent and I have used it on many vinyl and plastic products without harming the plastic. I would avoid any type of solvent that has acetates. Most acetates are aggressive to plastics and many lacquer thinners use acetates in the blend. Bob G.

P.S. If you decide to drink the remainder don't forget to dilute it sufficiently. It's 190 proof to start..........

Michael Roberts
27-Dec-2009, 13:01
lighter fluid

Struan Gray
27-Dec-2009, 13:07
Pure hexane or heptane is excellent at removing tape-style adhesives without harming plastics. Coleman fuel (auto gas with no additives) or pure naptha work well too.

Ken Lee
27-Dec-2009, 13:15
Some of my holders are wood. Others are plastic.

Roger Thoms
27-Dec-2009, 14:01
I use De-Solv-it for tape residue. It is citrus based. I originally bought it from a video supply company who sold it for removing labels on video tape cassette. That was 20 years ago. Now it is available from places like Ace and Truevalue hardware.



Keith Pitman
27-Dec-2009, 14:17
Paint thinner works on a lot of adhesives. DON'T use acetone; it will soften the plastic.

Louis Pacilla
27-Dec-2009, 14:59
lighter fluid

Me Too.

27-Dec-2009, 15:15
If it is an unknown plastic, use alcohol, it is pretty safe and works. Other solvents might work better but might damage plastics...

falth j
27-Dec-2009, 15:40
I've used WD-40 for many things, and it sometimes is very good at removing sticker adhesive...


Another useful product is 'Goo-B-Gone


David Karp
27-Dec-2009, 18:41
I use Goo Gone Magic American Corp. It is citrus based and works very well.

27-Dec-2009, 19:20
There are so many possibilities of what "plastic" was used for the sheet film holders.
Especially considering the age of the holders.
Modern holders might be made of ABS.
See this link for chronology:http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Plastics-History.htm

I investigated what sorts of plastic compatibility existed and found this link:

In my experience, 100% IPA works well on a range of materials.
But there are certain plastics that do not tolerate certain alcohols in 100% concentrations.
Ethyl alcohol is compatible with many plastics.

Lighter fluid in a can is Naptha...
Compressed gas into a lighter would be Butane.
The suggestions listed previously are for using Naptha...

Hope this is helpful...

Jim C.
27-Dec-2009, 19:26
The lacquer thinner might be ok for the wood holders, but not so good for plastic ones.

Naptha / lighter fluid is probably best for both your plastic and wood holders, I use it
all the time to remove glue residue at work, I'd be hesitant with WD-40 since it will
remove the glue but it will leave a oily residue that will affect adhesion of the tape.

Ken Lee
27-Dec-2009, 19:33
Thanks to ALL - I will start with citrus-based products, and see how far I get.

Meanwhile, for the tape itself, I have ordered some Gaffer's Tape from Amazon - which according to earlier posts, will do the job nicely.

It has been a pleasant surprise (but shouldn't have in retrospect) to discover that wooden holders seem to work nicest. Their action gets smoother with use. I only have a few and used them as a last resort - but now prefer them over the plastic ones. As goes the saying: "We get too soon oldt, und too late schmart".

27-Dec-2009, 19:40
Hey I found a great link to an industry standard for cleaning plastic windows:

Clearly supports use of Naptha (lighter fluid)...

See following:

Cleaning Plastic Windows (How to)

The following techniques for cleaning acrilic and polycarbonate sheet are based on standard industry practice. To ensure acceptability of the results, always test a sample of the material with the cleaner and technique to be used.

To remove masking adhesive and glazing compound:
Apply Naptha or kerosene with a clean, soft cloth. Wash immediately with soap and rinse thououghly with clean water.

To remove graffiti:
Butyl Cellosolve removes paint, marker ink, lipstick, etc. (never use in direct sunlight). Naptha VM&P grade or petroleum spirits will help lift stickers or other adhesive backed paper.


* Use clean soft cloths or sponges for application of cleaners and again for washing and rinsing.
* Follow up the application with warm water rinse.
* Don't use abrasives or high alkaline cleaners.
* Don't leave cleaners on polycarbonate sheet for long periods, wash immediately.
* Don't apply cleaners in direct sunlight or at elevated temperatures.
* Don't use scrapers, squeegees or razors.
* Don't clean with gasoline.

Cleaning and maintenance:
Thourghly rinse with warm water using a soft cloth or sponge. Wash with mild soap or detergent and rinse thouroughly with clean water. To prevent water spots, thoroughly dry the glazing with a chamois or moist sponge. Do not use abrasive cleaners. Avoid cleaning in direct sunlight to prevent streaking.

Compatible Cleaners and Detergents:
Formula 409, Top Job, Joy, Palmolive, Windex with Ammonia D, Naptha VM&P grade.

To Minimize Fine or Hairline Scratches:
Mild automotive polish applied and removed with a soft, clean cloth will help fill scratches.

Suggested Polishes:

* Johnson Paste Wax
* Mirror Glaze #10 Plastic Polish (by Mirror Bright Polish Co., Pasadena CA)
* Novus Plastics Polish #1, #2 (by Novus, Inc., Minneapolis MN)

David E. Rose
27-Dec-2009, 20:20
One more for the list. Being an architect, I have always had a can of Bestine rubber cement thinner around. It is the best solvent/remover for sticker and tape residue I have ever used, and I have used it on both wood and plastic film holders. A little soaked into a paper towel is all you need. It dissolves the residue quickly and cleanly, then evaporates away. You can find it at most good art supply stores. The only negative is a low flash point. I once saw a brief but hair melting flash fire on the board next to me when a colleague used Bestine and a rag to clean his vinyl board covering! Heat from the rubbing ignited the solvent.

Drew Wiley
27-Dec-2009, 20:31
I always use DeSolvIt citrus first. Let it soak about fifteen minutes then remove this
with a blue Scotchbrite pad. Wear plastic gloves (it's a skin irritant, and also great for killing ants). Then thoroughly remove all the residue of the citrus with alcohol. Do NOT use acetone or lacquer thinner or you might ruin your filmholder. Movie film
cleaner also works well but is a lot more expensive.

27-Dec-2009, 22:11
Great thread!

Turns out that Bestine solvent & thinner is actually Heptane.
Heptane is widely recognized as a great tape cement solvent, AKA Bestine...
Naptha (lighter fluid) contains various percentages of Heptane.

Naptha normally refers to a number of petroleum solvents used primarily as feedstock for producing a high octane gasoline component.
See MSDS link:

I found several references for Naptha constituents.
Section 2: Composition and Information on Ingredients
Name CAS # % by Weight
Isopentane 78-78-4 2
{n-}heptane 142-82-5 22
Pentane 109-66-0 25
Hexane(s) 110-54-3 26
Isohexane 107-83-5 25

28-Dec-2009, 07:52
If it is an unknown plastic, use alcohol, it is pretty safe and works. Other solvents might work better but might damage plastics...

Seems like what I suggested for a first try at the beginning of this thread. But use ethyl alcohol not rubbing alcohol which is isopropyl alcohol.

All the other suggestions above: lighter fluid (which is a very light kerosene), naphtha (another name for kerosene which is a blend of aromatic and/or aliphatic chemicals), hexane, heptane, etc. probably would all work. But some may damage the plastic depending on what type of plastic it is. Or soak into the wood of wooden holders and stay there. The citrus based solvent that was suggested (d-limonene)should also be pretty good but will penetrate wood and remain a long time, possibly interfering with adhesion of fresh tape.

So my vote is still for the ethyl alcohol which will dry out quickly. You could get a small can of denatured alcohol (95% ethyl alcohol) at the hardware store and use that but it usually has 5% methanol as a denaturant. Methanol is harsher on plastics (and the human body) than ethanol. But that would be a lot cheaper than paying the liquor tax on Everclear. Best of luck with your repairs. Bob G.