Removing stamps from envelopes?

This may be a silly question, but I haven’t collected stamps since I was a kid in the 90s (Australia). I’m sure I used to remove stamps by soaking them and they would just slide off the paper, but now they cling on relentlessly and it’s easier to peel the stamp in two than to get it off the envelope in one piece. I’m guessing the adhesive changed? Any tips for getting stamps off envelopes?


I’ve just been cutting them off envelopes. Just leaving them on postcards. I’ll be watching to see what answers you get - :slight_smile:


Hello @anduril_ and welcome :slight_smile:
That´s actually a good question!
Earlier it really was easy to soak stamps without ruining them.
I have tried to soak only Finnish sticker stamps and it looks like they need a bit warmer
water but shorter time. And cool water for rinsing to maintain the colours.

Many countries have pretty tough self-adhesive that is made to prevent fraud. I have found US, Australia, Great Britain and a few others are really difficult to soak. Two things you can try, using warmer water (which doesn’t usually work well), or using a chemical solvent. Personally, I just leave them on the paper, neatly trimmed without cutting into the perforations.

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I’ve found that for stamps that won’t soak off, a spray of air freshener on the back of the paper often does the trick. However, the stamp will sometimes still be sticky after peeling it off the paper (as if the adhesive is being loosened rather than removed). I’ve used this for modern American stamps as well as ones here in Ireland. Some will still soak so I always try that first.

I was once recommended to try soaking with washing up liquid in the water, but I was skeptical so tried it with a spare. When I tried it on the spare stamp it removed the post mark and affected the colour so don’t try washing up liquid. It will remove the stamp but it’s not ideal.

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Nowadays Adhesive stamps are released by many countries, so they are bit hard to get off envelope so just cut the envelope to edge to edge with stamp, and preserve it, or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) used for removing them

I usually leave Commemorative/Pictorial stamps on envelopes. I purchase large amounts of these at auction. Some I keep, some I swap and some I sell. If the stamps are very common, I cut around them and then consign them to the auction house when I have a large amount.

Does anybody try to use hairdryer to warm adhesive layer?
It perfectly works with stickers especially if they glued to glossy surface.
The same should be we stamps, I suppose :slight_smile:


Australian adhesive stamps are impossible to get off in one piece. Australia Post in recent times have added extra perforations in case we are tempted to use the stamps again! I just cut carefully around the edge of the stamp.
For Postcrossing I order gummed stamps online as the my local PO never has any. I leave the stamps on my postcards.


I have thaught ironing but not tried yet…
I´ll give a try and let you all know when the smoke is gone :grinning:


Everyone, thanks so much for your replies. I see now the difference between the self-adhesive stamps and the gummed ones, I too will be ordering gummed stamps online now. It seems the best approach is just to leave them on the paper and cut around it, which I don’t love, but I can adjust! Thanks again all :slight_smile:


Yes, I try to just buy gummed stamps rather than adhesive ones.

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Today I found out some parcels I sent last week were returned to our PO box, because I missed some bureaucratic procedure… It’s not worth sending them now, because they won’t get to their recipients before World Postcard Day (which was the goal).

So now I have almost 20 euros worth of gummed stamps to soak off, and I’m a bit scared of messing up. :grimacing: I shall cut the least valuable stamp and give it a try, to see how it works!

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good luck! update us how it goes!

This is how I remove self-adhesive stamps from envelopes. Please note that you WILL need some kind of mask when doing this.

  • Put the paper with stamp on it on a piece protective paper, cardboard, or anything that does not contain color, stamp facing down.
  • Spray a little of limonene contaning grease remover on the stamp paper. This stuff is very poisonous so seriously, use a mask and do this in well ventilated place. This stuff also removes ink from newspapers so make sure the protective paper is indeed without color.
  • Now peel the stamp carefully from paper, use some kind of plastic card, for example an old credit card to scrape off excess glue.
  • All glue does not come off from the stamp, so sprinkle a bit of talc (baby powder) on the stamp’s backside to neutralize it.
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Thank you for sharing, this is great!