Removing Flypaper / Flytape Glue / Resin

On my back patio I sometimes get these annoying little flies that just “hang around” doing laps. Usually in about a 3 foot diameter area. They like the “still air” and hang out there especially when there is wind in the yard.

Needless to say, when I’m sitting in my easy chair on the patio I don’t like them hovering in my view…

Sporadically I’ll hang a “fly paper tape” thing from the overhead and let it catch them. Some times I just use a fly swatter. (Swung fast enough, even a miss creates enough turbulance that I’ll see a wing fluttering to the ground and know one of them will be walking from here on out ;-)

So today I hung one. It was an old one as the last time I did this was last summer some time. As they get old, the “goo” thickens. Sometimes to the point where attempting to deploy it causes the paper to rip. This did.

Sometimes you get a little goo on the fingers accidentally. Other times, like now, I got a lot as I was manually unwinding the paper with fingers in goo.

The Goo is damn near impossible to wipe off, wash off, or otherwise remove. (And I’m low on solvents right now, the Peoples Republic of California having decided that only industries that pay large fees ought to have access to “chemicals”… especially those that work…)

The end result was both hands with more Goo than you’d think possible from a little old fly tape and the paper towel and soap just not getting it done…

Well, necessity being what it is… I pondered a while. Witchhazel helped a little. (Not sure exatly what’s in it, or why we have it, but a very old bottle of it was on the shelf, soo….)

But I still had a lot of sticky stuff left. What to do?

I decided to try a variation on automotive grease absorbant tech. Would a powder, especially one with some chemical / pH modification power help? (That there was a tub of it sitting near the sink didn’t hurt the inspiration to “try it” ;-)

So I rubbed a load of Baking Soda ( Sodium Bicarbonate ) into the Goo. Then washed.

Almost completely clean hands.


Very very close to completely clean. Enough that I didn’t bother with more.

So, should you find yourself “Gooed”, it’s worth giving a baking soda absorbant rub a try…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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24 Responses to Removing Flypaper / Flytape Glue / Resin

  1. George says:

    Some TSP might work as well. Since they have removed phosphates from dish washing detergent, I go to the paint section of the store and get some TSP and add it back in. The dishes come out sparkling clean.

    Might also try washing soda or borax, too, for goo.

  2. PhilJourdan says:

    Baking Soda does it all! Whitens teeth, quells the fire of that enchillada! and romoves goo!

    Just fill the cleaning cabinet with it and you are good to go! :)

  3. Level_Head says:

    Interesting and useful; thanks.

    I’ve had a somewhat related issue due to my drinking problem: I drink about two dozen bottles of Snapple a day. I make the stuff from powder now, and re-use the bottles (making a batch of sixty about every three days). Each bottle of tea costs about eight cents, which is much cheaper than when I had the Snapple truck delivering dozens of cases to my office every month for years. (Snapple considers me a fair-sized town in terms of consumption…)

    The labels come off the bottle, but leave a very sticky residue behind. It’s sticky enough where one can grab a bottle out of the refrigerator, and it will on occasion pull the next bottle out with it to drop on the floor.

    We tried a variety of solvents, from SpotShot to WD-40 to various detergents and thinners, and had to work hard to get only a poor level of success from them.

    Then we discovered by accident that a bit of real butter, smeared on the bottle and allowed to sit for a couple of hours, does the job.

    Butter late than never.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  4. H.R. says:

    Ahhh…. I was wondering how you were typing the story with goo all over your fingertips. Then I got to the end of the post and found you had succeeded in removing the goo.

    The only thing that can affect more things than baking soda is global warming (and I could be wrong about that).


    “Butter late than never.”

    After that one, you might just want to grab your hat and coat and quietly slip out the back door before the mob with torches and pitchforks can home in on your location ;o)

  5. gnomish says:

    wd40 is also commonly used for scratchless removal of encrusted masking tape and tape goo from finished surfaces.
    butter would be cheaper, tho.

    stuff on the snapple bottles and jars and stuff is hot-melt adhesive. you can remove the bulk of it with any stiff edge if you heat the jar. then the residue can come off with a couple wipes of your preferred solvent.

  6. Verity Jones says:

    That’s good to know since I put up some flypaper about a week ago in the conservatory which has been given over to tomatoes and other fruit this year (too cold outside). It is really sticky stuff! I hope the flypaper will trap any whitefly and prevent it becoming a problem. Today a regular fly got caught by the paper and I couldn’t bear to see it struggling and I had to put it out of its misery.

    Are the flies doing laps ’round flies’ or ‘square flies’? Or do you get mixed groups?

    I’ve noticed two types that hang around – both equally annoying. One type will do little circles #1-2 feet in diameter – just flying round and round, quietly and in quite a leisurely manner… usually 2 or 3 of them. The other type also cover the same sort of ‘circling area’ but they fly in a straight line then make a sudden change in direction so they seem to fly around a square or polygon. Again there is usually a small group. I can’t say I’ve seen a mixed group.

  7. Chuckles says:

    Useful E.M. thanks, I’ve had lots of fun removing that nightmarish stuff in the past.

    I’ll add it to nail polish remover, WD40 and the rest on the ‘try this’ list.

    As a ‘did you know’, baking soda is also used with Superglue – cyanoacrylate to make repairs to plastic foam components or composite parts as a filler/adhesive (N.B. exothermic!!!)

    And a final one, I was very surprised when I first learnt the setting/curing mechanism for Superglue, and I’ve subsequently found that few people know what it is.

  8. Level_Head says:

    I used to have my employees sign a waiver acknowledge my strange sense of humor. And now, years later, I get a complaint from the H.R. department.

    Of course, such things often get people in trouble. There was a fellow in Arizona in the little town of Yuma, who undertook many years ago to make counterfeit money. But he was the wrong kind of forger — a metalworker — so he made fake coins rather than bills. He did pretty well, but the pennies didn’t look quite right, and this ultimately led to his arrest.

    They hung him for his strange cents of Yuma.

    It could happen to me, perhaps.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  9. Verity Jones says:

    We have a bottle of Sticky Stuff Remover in the cupboard
    I think my mother swore by it and gave me a bottle. I seem to remember and older version smelled a bit of paraffin. This one says it contains aliphatic hydrocarbons, and smells of orange oil.

    Actually citrus oils would be good too. If baking soda doesn’t work ;-)

  10. Verity Jones says:

    @Level Head
    Well I appreciate your sense of humour! But then I grew up with this:

  11. Jim2 says:

    Hand lotion, being an emulsion, possesses both hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties. It sometimes will remove gooey substances.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    All are “circular flies” as near as I can tell. Though when agrivated they go into variable radius spiral mode…


    I presume you mean the cyanide?


    But it leave you smellling “pretty”… and I live rather close to San Francisco ….


    Um, could you post a google map to your location, please? I’ve got a BUNCH of requests for it ;-)


    The baking soda worked remarkably well. Only bits left were a touch ‘under a fingernail edge’ that I was too lazy to rescrub. The “slighly odd” texture to the skin has left over a short time (and I think it was from the alkaline pH, not the goo, anyway). So as of now “all is fine”.

    Next year I’ll try some of the other suggestions ;-)


    English is a marvelous language… so is that stuff the speak in the UK ;-)

  13. j ferguson says:

    We’ve started to vacuum flies. If there are few enough to count, Dirt Devil with hose works marvelously and quickly. I suspect that they are tricked by the airflow. We encounter flies with greatly varying skill at swatter evasion by season and location, but none seems able to escape the vacuum nozzle if it is within a few inches. They also don’t seem to recognize it as a threat.

    they must eventually learn the technology so if you come up with something they haven’t survived in the genetic sense, they’re helpless.

    Mineral spirits seem to cut 3M adhesives pretty well.

  14. Judy F. says:

    We have a product here in Colorado called “Goo Gone” available at Wal Mart, Home Depot and other hardware stores. Fingernail polish remover will take off the sticky but can also remove paint, whereas Goo Gone only takes off the sticky. I use it on lots of surfaces, including skin, although it stings a little bit, as it contains petroleum distillates and citrus oils. It probably works too well to be sold in California. I agree on the use of WD40 and have also used hairspray on things like sales stickers.

    @ j ferguson
    I will probably identify myself to some people with the following post. I don’t like to use pesticides in my garden. I have so many wonderful little critters, especially bumblebees and other flying things, that I am hesitant to spray. But the past few years we have had, literally, a plague of grasshoppers. For years I have used the Shop Vac to vacuum the grasshoppers. When I lived on the farm I fed the vacuumed hoppers to the chickens, but now that I live in town I have no chickens. I solved the problem by making cheese cloth bags which I clamp onto the hose outlet inside the shop vac. The best time to vacuum hoppers is in the early morning when they are still cool or in the early evening when the heat of the day has dissipated. The hoppers are most active when it is warm, they are much more sluggish and easier to get when it is cooler. I vacuum the hoppers off stems, stalks and branches, not off the ground because I pick up too much debris. When I am through, I throw the cheesecloth sack into a bucket of soapy water overnight to drown the hoppers, and then bury them in the ground. You have to use soap to break down the coating on the grasshoppers, otherwise I have had a sack of hoppers come to life the next day. I suppose you could stomp the sack and achieve the same result but I don’t like that method. For those of you who question the need to kill the grasshoppers- last year there were so many on the fire hydrant by my house that I couldn’t even see the red color on the hydrant. They completely stripped a young blue spruce, ate the new candles out of the pines, stressed any landscape plant I had and ate my chives to the ground. The biggest problem with vacuuming hoppers is that you only get about one in three or four because they hop out of the way. Still way better than a 100% kill with pesticides, that kills so many other things I want to keep around. I do bait with NOLO bait, which is a Nosema Locustae microspordial pathogen, but it takes weeks to work, and sometimes more drastic action is needed. Viva la Shop Vac.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @judy F.:

    I, too, can’t stand to spray as so many of my “friends” would die too. (And not just bugs I like, but the critters that eat the bugs I DON’t like! I’ve several kinds of birds and bugs that “work over the plants” looking for other bugs…)

    At any rate, the vacuum sounds like a good idea… besides, the spouse dumps the bucket ;-)

    On “hoppers”, depending on where you are they can be, literally, a “plague of locusts”. Best not to wait too long for corrective action…

    As I remember it, the Colorado area has one such. ?

    At any rate, you can now say “grass hoppers suck” with a smile on your face ;-)

    (Adjective, verb, it matters…)

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Judy F.

    Just copy the link from the browser bar and paste it into your comment. WordPress does the rest. You can have several ( I think I set the limit up to something like 6 or 7 – then it goes to the SPAM queue and I find it days later…)

    Oh, and have “white space” at each end of the URL… will not work as the ) abuts the link, but ) will work as the space before the ) lets wordpress see it as a link…

    (I left off the leading:http:// so WP wouldn’t try to make actual links out of the example…)

  17. Chuckles says:


    No, the setting / polymerising trigger for Superglue is water…
    Typically the humidity in the surrounding air, or more commonly, your fingers. :)

  18. Verity Jones says:


    Goo Gone sounds very like the US version of Stucky Stuff Remover described above.

    Good solution for the grasshoppers. I wish I could vacuum up slugs and snails. I do use nematodes when conditions are right but this year has either been too cold or dry.

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    You didn’t ask what STARTED the reaction ;-)

    (Yes, water starts it, but it is vaporized cyanoacrylate monomer that’s the “cool stuff” for making fingerprints show up on “impossible” surfaces… and it will react inside your nose too ;-)

  20. Jason Calley says:

    @ j ferguson “We’ve started to vacuum flies.”

    Works on bees too. Some decades back I was moving some hives from my back yard to another location. It was a hot day — very hot, in fact — and there were lots of bees clustered on the outsides of the hives. They do that when it is hot. In spite of large quantities of smoke, I just could not persude the outside bees to go inside and let me close off the entrances. I finally just put some wire mesh over the entrances and still had thousands of bees out of their hives, now upset and flying all around.

    OK, think… any bees left behind will die, what to do? Ah ha! I got the old canister vacuum and started sucking up bees from mid-air. It was like an eraser. I would wave the wand through the cloud and it would leave a momentary clear streak in the air. Way cool! I got maybe 90% of the airborn bees and taped off the hose, put the hives and vacuum into the back of my truck for transport.

    After unloading the hives I dumped the buzzing dirt bag on the ground. Surprisingly enough, most of the bees were in good shape; tumbled and VERY dirty, but basically OK. After a few minutes spent cleaning themselves they took off and sorted out which hive was which and where they belonged.

    Wonderful little creatures…

  21. Pascvaks says:

    “Removing Flypaper / Flytape Glue / Resin” and the comments made me think of something else, maybe it was the “sound” of some machines nearby. I always liked the PBS series “Connections” some years ago. And, it also probably had a lot to do with the recent tornado blackouts we experienced. Anyway, I thought of “Wash Tubs/Wash Boards/Closelines”.

    Not recommending we retro back to outhouses, village wells, wash tubs, wash boards, and solar/air drying on a line (been there, done that), but these would save a lot of water and electricity. Right? Bet the People’s Republic of California will bring all this back soon. Shame bees can’t do it all for us, they sure know how to work their tails off.

    Always thought flypaper strips were so much better than spray poisons. The really lend character to a room too.

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    In the urban areas of California “outside wash” is likely to get a coating of dust / stuff from the air. At least, if the dirt that collects on my porch and outside house surfaces is any guide.

    The sun also fades clothes faster and causes the fabric to break down quicker… then again, it’s raining now… may be a long time before I see sun again….

    Always did like wash tubs and wash boards, though… And clotheslines were “way cool”… useful for things like holding up my first “long wire” shortwave ratio antenna ;-)

    And I hung out my first “nitro cotton” cloth to dry there too… (You don’t want that in the gas dryer ;-) It was an old “100% Cotton T shirt” treated with mixed Nitric and Sulphuric acids. I was about 12? Something like that… Great fun to put a “roll” of it on a pie pan and light it off ;-)

    Ah, the joys of “the good old days” ….

    Then there was that time I put the “sprinker hose” up between the clothes lines and made a “summer shower play area”… and…

  23. Clint Rowley says:

    Thanks for the tips on removing fly paper. That residue can be super sticky.

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