Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Cleaning Cases

1oth February 2006

Hi all,

I'm trying to clean some old labels off Pelican cases, it's a nightmare.

Does anyone have any tips?

They're old shipping and airline labels, also hotel labels and, well everything

I've tried scraping, it works to an extent but not very well.

Save me! tell me there's an easy way to do this...



Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

In the states they sell a citrus based label remover. I'll bet you can get such a product too. The regular label removes are too caustic to use and will dull the case so don't suggest them. Just put the stuff on a wait ten minutes and it should come off pretty easily.


Disclaimer : My opinions, thoughts, and beliefs are my own and may not reflect yours. The use of the pronouns "you, "some", and "many" to name a few are generalizations and without a proper name attached to them are not references to anyone reading my posts.


Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.

Secret weapon takes off all sticky labels on metal cases WD-.40

Spray it on, wait 5 minutes, label comes right off, then clean up with Windex or similar.

Works like a charm

Al Satterwhite

If you can get it in England, try some Simple Green... it's mostly a degreaser, but I find it cleans most anything. And non-toxic. If you had asked last week, we could have sent you home with some...



Try Kodak film cleaner - it takes graffiti off and nearly everything else. But do test a corner because of what Pelican cases are made from.

Robert Goodman
Philadelphia, PA

Give them to your assistant and say "Clean Boy" ...

Justin Pentecost


Never worked in the past Justin.

You're responsible for more than half the bloody labels in the first place!!


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based


Further to earlier answers, a heat gun, used with caution on a thermoplastic case, will soften the glue.

Do not combine this technique with flammable cleaners!

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit

Hi Geoff

Spray with furniture polish


Riki Butland
DoP UK/Dubai

The US citrus based product is called 'Goo Gone,' and it does work amazingly well. Smells nice too.

I once saw an antique dealer using it to remove the remains of melted vinyl cushions from the wood sides of a very expensive c.1900 Stickley sofa.

Alan Thatcher

>I'm trying to clean some old labels off Pelican cases, it's a >>nightmare.

All the above, plus lighter fluid (naptha).

Tim Sassoon
SFD Vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA

The US citrus based product is called 'Goo Gone,' and it does work >amazingly well. Smells nice too.

Just don't confuse "Goo Gone" with "Goof-Off" -- a strong solvent that will remove finishes and paint. Goo-Gone comes in a plastic bottle, Goof-Off in a can.

Jeff "Vinyl cushions on a Stickley sofa? So gauche!" Kreines

I'm trying to clean some old labels off Pelican cases, it's a nightmare.

Does anyone have any tips?

There's an old adage,

"If it moves and shouldn't; Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should; WD-40"

WD-40 does wonders removing stickers. Really. The mess created by WD-40 is then easily removed with Windex.

Brand names are United States specific. Your brand names may vary.

Cliff Hancuff

Geoff Boyle wrote :

I'm trying to clean some old labels off Pelican cases, it's a nightmare.

I use an old blow-dryer to heat them as I slowly pull them off. This works on just about everything, including tape labels (those red-printed 3M labels were the worst) Usually they come off pretty clean, or with only a little cleanup by dabbing the remaining adhesive with some duct-tape.

A heat gun would possibly work better, though you'd have to be more careful with it.

William Gartin
StrataSPHERE Editor
Sales & Marketing
Fort Worth, TX

There are actually solvents designed to soften up these sorts of adhesives

In the US, you can get several 3M products to use in ascending order :

1/. Industrial Cleaner (citrus based)
2/. Adhesive solvent cleaner

Both of these products or their European analogues should be available without too much trouble.

I prefer to use the citrus based cleaner which is a little less powerful than the petroleum based solvents, but either should work fine. The citrus may be "natural" but will still suck the oil out of your fingers, so wear disposable gloves if you are going to immerse yourself in it.

The petroleum based stuff should be available at any store that caters to auto body repair (panel beaters?) as this is the stuff they need to use to remove weather strip and body trim adhesive residue before painting and/or after gluing. It is also a great bug/tar remover and in a pinch, you can buy bug/tar remover stuff from a spares shop and it should work fine on the labels also.

For a scraper, I tend to use the plastic windscreen scrapers or the plastic disposable putty/plastering knives available at DIY stores which are a bit softer plastic and won't scratch the cases, which is, after all, the job of the airlines.

Mark Weingartner
LA based
Still using a couple of fibre cases from the sixties, though most of
my stuff is in Pelicans these days.

There's a product I use that is an adhesive remover in a spray can....

Can't remember the name offhand, but it's made by MG Chemical. Very similar to Goo Gone, complete with citrusy smell.

With either of those products, I'd test on an old Pelican case. Because they're plastic, some of these solvents can also make the surface layer of the case soften up a bit, which may not be an improvement over the label goo.

I haven't actually damaged any cases doing this, but I have altered the surface finish (which meant that I had to spray down the whole case to make it look consistent at least).

Great for metal cases though!

George Hupka
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada

Get Justin to fart in the vicinity of the case, that should strip it bare. I'm not sure how the plastic would fare though.

Dan Bronks

>In the states they sell a citrus based label remover.

If its citrus based Geoff, why not try lemon juice - just a thought

Yours Sincerely

Director of Photography
High Definition Cinematographer
Helicopter Aerial Expert

From : Laurie Gilbert

If its citrus based Geoff, why not try lemon juice - just a thought

The citrus extract in the cleaner comes from the oils of the rind, not the juice in the pulp.

Bob Morein
Indie filmmaker

When I was in film school I had a part time job at a duplication facility.

We used this stuff to remove labels from videotapes, sometimes hundreds of tapes at a time. It removes the label and all the sticky crap in one shot.

I keep a bottle of the citrus based "Goo-Gone" in my van however, it doesn't work nearly as well as this stuff.

Marketed by a videotape recycling company.

Dave Winters

I use a combination of the above mentioned chemicals, goo0gone, 3M citrus cleaner, and several others. My two main tools are a heat gun (a hair dryer is a good substitute) and several widths of metal scrapers. The scrapers in harmony with the heat will remove most labels.

I am encouraging our shipping department to use the plastic FedEx flags on the handles. Our local FedEx folks say they prefer these to having the label stuck on the case. I generally send a return set of the tags in a AKS case for the return trip.

One note of caution with the 3m spraycans...

They are all black now and just have coloured bands on them for different products.

77 or 90 sprayed on a label does NOT help with it's removal.

Marty Brenneis
Industrial Magician

"Sticky Stuff Remover" by Mykai - I think I bought mine from a Kleenese catalogue - it smells of oranges and removes anything - even when some idiot uses duct tape instead of gaffer tape on your cables and then manages to wrap it round so that the duct tape is sticking to the duct tape and then it all melts.........

Anna Carrington

Alan Thatcher writes :

The US citrus based product is called 'Goo Gone,' and it does work >amazingly well. Smells nice too.

A similar product is Citra-Solv.

These citrus products are great for removing old label adhesive, but they'll take the oils out of your skin, and will also attack cheap plastics, such as polystyrene. So when in doubt test it on a hidden surface.

Polyethylene’s (polythenes) and polypropylenes, such as are used in Pelican-type cases should be OK with citrus-based solvents.

Dan Drasin
Marin County, CA


We use Ambersil label remover. Works very well but stinks of oranges.
( Better then having Justin farting at the case. Is that how he powers his Land Rover?? I thought it was LPG.. )

Get Justin to pick up a can from us when he's next in ( most days!! )


Andy Taylor
Arri Media
( Upwind of Justin )

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