Remove Stamps without Damage

What methods do you use to remove stamps from postcards without damaging them?

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I haven’t taken stamps off postcards but I think the best would be to cut them off to soak them in water.
But since you wanna preserve the card I think you could peel a part of the paper layer if it’s thick enough.
Otherwise it’d tear the stamp if you tried to get it off, wouldn’t
Or how about using a paper towel to only soak the stamped part? You’d have to be extremely careful and hold the card upside down tho? :thinking:

The water needs to be hot enough to affect the clue holding the stamp on card. So far I haven’t been able to preserve the card and got the stamp well off :confused: I heard somebody mentioning once that if you soak the stamp corner and then immediately after getting the stamp off the card dry it off and press between paper and heavy books so it will be flattened. Tried that couple of times but found that the hot water messed up cards’ colours, but it could be worth to test with the cards you will be ok to lose for the science.

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I usually use really cold water and let them be. They will come out of the card part for themselves without any issue or damage (usually). Never tried it with hot water.

But yeah, first I cut the corner where the stamp is located, then put a batch in a recipient full of cold water and let them be for a while. Depending on the glue type, some get out after few minutes, most of them within an hour and rarely after an hour. Then I put them to soak in kitchen tissues. Done! :slightly_smiling_face:

We here at home always put ice cold water. As cold as you can get. I keep reading about hot water, I wonder if anyone else does it like me? :thinking:

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Interesting, I have never heard about using cold water instead! Does the glue come off fine? Have you noticed it working only specific type of stamps? I guess if the glue is water based then it would come off no matter which temperature the water is.

It does! I had few issues in the beginning because I started to peel them off when I saw the corners floating. :sweat_smile: Then I realised I just have to let them be for a while more without pulling and they will eventually get out and start floating by themselves. That’s when I take them out of the water.

It works in every kind of stamps as far I know. Unless the paper is way too thin, that’s what I think anyway. Let’s say… in 100 stamps, only a couple of them get damaged and it’s usually because the paper where they were printed was probably of poor quality. But this is just a guess.


I will have to test that out, thanks for the tip! I feel like using cold water could save sometime spent standing next to stove and reduce the colouring accidents.

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Newer US stamps have some super glue that doesn’t go off without destroying the stamp :confused: I have heard some people use some specific chemicals for those, but can’t find the name of it right now. I understand that they want minimize the risk of re-used stamps (I guess that is the reason of using that glue?), but it has been a big loss for US stamps collecting.


I use label removal marker to remove US self-adhesive stamps. It works fine for me, but I’m not professional stamp collector, may be it’s not the best solution :blush:


I use water with a drop of washing up liquid.
If I want to save the card, I take a piece of kitchen roll, wet it (not dripping wet) and place over the stamp, so that the kitchen roll covers only the stamp. Then after a while I check if the stamps is loose.
Sometimes I cover the corners of the card with washi tape, so the corners don’t take too much of water.


Wow, some stamps I have tried to take off envelopes disintegrated within ten minutes of being in warm-room temperature water. I wonder if cold preserves them a bit better?
I think warm water is advised because it makes the glue part lift off easier but I suppose soaking it for a whole in cold will do the same given enough time? Since you seem to have success I will try it this way too next time.
(I’ve only tried taking stamps off twice, lol)

Maybe I’m totally wrong in my theory but I wonder if warm/hot water just rushes the whole process, not giving time for the different materials to transform (glue + paper), hence the fact that some people aren’t really successfull with it? Maybe that was what happened, @Sleep. :thinking:

Hope it works! I don’t usually have colouring accidents, they will look the same as if they were brand new stamps. :slightly_smiling_face:


This is cause cold doesn’t carry color as much (just like with laundry or paper dye)
I think your theory is right. I’m inspired now to try cold soak :joy:

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I think we need to distinguish between the different types of glue and also between different countries, in some cases (USA was mentioned) even between different periods in the same country. It would be great if everyone with a working mothod could post what kind of glue (self-adhesive or to be wetted) and what country the stamps successfully removed where from.

Personally I only have experience with wet-glue stamps - they come off rather easily with cold water, and if you only put the corner of the postcard in or use a wet cloth or kitchen paper, the postcard won’t look too rugged. I haven’t removed stamps from their cards or envelopes for decades, I know always collect the complete items as they provide other interesting philatelic information like starting codes.

It’s aways interesting what you can dig up on the internet… USPS themselves have a recipe to remove their stamps, though it’s not for the impatient: It seems to take one hour in cold water to remove them. Best try it first with some stamps whose damage or loss isn’t important. The page has a copyright mark from 2019 at the bottom, so newest stamps may no longer work. I found other “recipes”, including the use of a microwave oven. Better not try that, as running a microwave oven with little or no stuff inside that it can heat may damage or even destroy the oven.

Generally cold water is more gentle to the stamps than warm or even hot water - we had that tip already 40 years ago when I started collecting stamps as a kid. The reason is that with higher temperature a lot of physical and chemical reactions really speed up, including those reactions you do not want, like dissolving colors or paper changing its structure. So better keep it as cold workable and extend the duration.

Regarding cold and self-adhesive glue I had an interesting experience unrelated to stamps some years ago. I gave an outdoor playground item to my godchildren, and it had a self-adhesive plastic label that I didn’t like and wanted to get off, but the glue was so tough/chewy (is that the right English word?), 'I could harly lift up a corner. I tried to heat it with a hairdryer, and it was even worse. Funny enough, when I visited them in winter, it was freezing, and the glue was no longer chevy but hard and flaky - I hit a few times against the label with my hand it it just fell off. When I got the label into the house, it warmed up and the glue was again very sticky. So I removed the “frozen” glue easily from the item, and we were rid of it.


@shugal thanks for the USPS link. I’d given up soaking newer US stamps in water or rubbing alcohol. The adhesive always remained. I’ll give this method a try.

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I’m not a stamp collector, but I remove them (for crafting) from envelopes. I really struggled with some country’s (recent) self-adhesive stamps, though.

Russia - one hour in water and nothing. I gave up!
Italy - around 30 minutes in water they went off the envelope but they were still full of glue. I wasn’t successful in getting it removed.

So I’ve thrown away those stamps. Any advice would be highly appreciated.


This is correct! The US postal service switched to self-adhesive stamps because they’re cheaper to make compared to lick-and-stick; the water-activated paper is only available through international channels, which increases production cost and introduces uncertainty in the manufacturing process.

Furthermore, our stamps are no longer soakable…I’m not sure whether this was for a cost-savings measure, but certainly it helps protect the postal service’s revenue, considering that the vast majority of our stamps are “Forever” stamps and don’t have a denomination printed on them.

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My list of “nightmare self-adhesive stamps” is longer… :roll_eyes:

Italy (don’t have many)
UK (the Queen’s head)

The past years I’m using the method some Philatelists told me: warm water (NEVER hot water) with salt to fix the colors. This works for all stamps except some self-adhesive of those countries above. Unfortunately, all the stamps from US and Brasil go straight to the garbage, they get damaged when trying to remove them from the paper. This makes me furious cause I love the US stamps and they were one of my favorite collections. :roll_eyes:

Self-adhesive from Germany, Australia, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal can be removed without big problems, just need a bit more time than the normal stamps. Curiously, Germany is the only country I never had problems with one single stamp, they all get off easily, usually I just need to fish them out of the water bowl! :sunglasses:

But before removing stamps from a piece of paper, think twice, if you are not destroying a Philatelic piece. If you have a very nice envelope with nice stamps and good rubber stamps, please consider keeping it that way and help save Philately! :hugs: :sunglasses:


I learnt that the hard way. :sob:

Since the last disaster I already decided I’ll just cut the stamp off paper and leave it like that. I don’t like it but better safe than sorry… :roll_eyes:

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There are ways to soak them, I have not tried these methods yet but there seem to be several different substances that help you remove even self adhesive stamps: