DIY Repair & Maintenance

How to Remove Command Strips—Even Tricky Broken Ones

3M Command Strips are designed to be easy to remove, but things don’t always go as planned. If they get stuck on the wall, here’s how to get them off without damaging your paint or drywall.
A person removing a 3m command strip stuck to the top of a wall inside a home.

Photo: Jenny Stanley for Bob Vila

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3M Command Strips can be used to hang a variety of items around the home, including pictures, decorations, coats, towels, speakers, pots and pans, and so much more. Their design aims to avoid damaging the wall, so they’re an especially popular choice when decorating a rental property. Using a special double-sided adhesive, one side adheres to the wall, while the other sticks to the back of the wall hook, holding it securely in place.

These sticky hooks are generally sturdy on walls once pressed on—sometimes so sturdy that they don’t want to come off when attempting to peel the adhesive backing off with 3M’s patented directional pull. Here’s how to remove Command Strips from your walls to avoid damage.

Tools & Materials

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Project Overview

Working Time: 2 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 to 10 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $0 to $20

Before You Begin

By design, these hanging strips are designed to be easy to remove with just a few simple steps. However, removing Command Strips doesn’t always go as planned; sometimes the adhesive dries up, making the strip brittle and more difficult to remove. First, we’ll look at the Command Strip instructions provided by 3M, then we’ll share some tips that should help you remove old or cracked strips without damaging your walls.

RELATED: The Best Nails for Hanging Pictures

STEP 1: Take pictures or other items off the hook.

Large Picture Hanging Adhesive Tapes
Photo: Amazon.com

Before getting into the steps for how to remove Command Strips from walls, you need to empty the hooks. Pull the pictures or tapestries that you hung up and over the top of the hook—not straight out—to make sure you don’t inadvertently pull the hook off with them (as doing so may cause the double-sided tape to tear, making it more difficult to remove).

STEP 2: With a firm grip, slowly start to pull the tab.

Command Medium Wire Toggle Hooks, Damage Free Hanging Wall Hooks with Adhesive Strips
Photo: Amazon.com

Once empty, use one hand to gently hold the hook that is on top of one of the double-sided Command Strips. Grab the clear tab at the base of the hook with your other hand, and gently pull it in the direction indicated by the arrows. Do not pull it towards you, as it can break off and make it more challenging to get the rest of the double-sided tape off the wall.

STEP 3: Stretch the tab until the adhesive releases from the wall.

Keep pulling the tab slowly. As you pull, the tab should stretch—possibly up to over a foot in length. The stretching should loosen the adhesive holding the foam in place, causing it to pull away from the wall without leaving any marks behind.

STEP 4: To remove old or broken Command Strips, begin by softening them with some heat.

A hand holding a green hair dryer up to a beige wall.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Removing Command picture hanging strips doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes the strips may become cracked or brittle. Other times, you inadvertently break the pull tab off. For these times when the strips are stuck to the wall, Andriy Neborak, CEO of Luxury Cleaning, says, “A quick solution is to use heat to soften the adhesive. For this, you can use any household hair dryer or heat gun.”

“Apply the heat directly to the Command Strip for a few seconds. This will soften the adhesive and ultimately make it easier to remove,” Neborak suggests. “Make sure to hold the heat source a few inches from the strip and move it back and forth to avoid overheating the wall.”

RELATED: How to Hang a Picture (5 Clever Tips & Tricks)

STEP 5: Use dental floss to “saw” the softened strip off the wall.

When you’re stuck on how to remove Command Strips without tabs or those that are broken, the next step involves dental floss. The key is to use the dental floss as a saw to cut the sticky foam off of the wall. Hold one end of the floss in each hand and position it at the top of the strip. Then, slide it back and forth, working your way down the Command Strip.

STEP 6: Remove any adhesive residue that is left behind.

Goo Gone bottle on workshop table
Photo: Homedepot.com

If there is any residue left behind from the Command Strips for pictures, Neborak suggests that you “apply a small amount of Goo Gone or a citrus-based cleaner to a rag and rub it gently on the Command Strip. It’ll help dissolve the adhesive and make it easier to remove.” Before applying the Goo Gone where the spot is, Neborak advises testing the “cleaning solution on a hidden wall area first to avoid damage.”

Final Thoughts

Understanding how to take off Command Strips can make them an even more versatile home decoration and organization tool. Remember, when removing Command Strips, never pull the tab out or up; always pull it in the direction of the arrows to avoid breaking it off. If the strips for your Command hooks are brittle or otherwise stuck on your wall, following one of the suggestions above should help you get them off without leaving behind any damage. Neborak suggests being patient as you work. He says to “pull the Command Strip off the wall slowly and gently. Avoid pulling too quickly, as this could damage the wall surface.”