How to Make Your Own Goo Gone

Goo Gone can be a lifesaver, but it's got harsh chemicals. Here's how to make a safe—and equally effective—version.

Commercial products such as Goo Gone are effective at removing sticky adhesive from surfaces, but they contain harsh chemicals that many of us want to avoid. We searched the internet for DIY alternatives and found that the most commonly cited formula contained coconut oil, baking soda, and orange (or lemon) essential oil. Curious if all three components were necessary, we did an elimination test to isolate what each was doing. Turns out each ingredient has an important chemical function in addition to making unique contributions to the mix: The oil dissolves fat-soluble adhesives and holds the paste together, alkaline baking soda helps break down the adhesive and acts as a mild abrasive, and the compound limonene in orange essential oil (a common additive in industrial cleaners) is a powerful solvent that helps lift off the goo while also bringing a pleasant fragrance to the mixture.

We swapped the solid coconut oil for vegetable oil (which made the paste easier to apply) and played around with proportions until we hit a combo we liked. Applied to the residue left behind by labels on glass jars and allowed to sit for a few minutes, this DIY mixture did a remarkably good job of removing the goo.


Stir together ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of vegetable oil, and 6 drops of citrus essential oil in a container with a lid.


Apply ½ teaspoon of the paste to the residue on glass, plastic, or metal surfaces, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then rub with a damp towel for 1 minute before rinsing with warm water.

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