How to Remove 3M Command Adhesive Strips if the Release Tab Gets Ripped Off

by Michael on January 1, 2011 · 17 comments

I’m a big fan of 3M’s Command adhesive strips. If you’ve never used them, they’re great. They stick like crazy, but release without damage when you stretch them out by pulling the little release tab on the end.


We use Command adhesive hooks for a bunch of things, including hanging our Christmas stockings on the mantle shelf above our fireplace. After the holidays, we simply pull the tab to release the hooks without damaging the paint.

The hooks themselves are totally reusable. All we have to do is buy some replacement strips and we’re good to go. No muss, no fuss. Except when the little tab tears off, that is.

Unfortunately, when removing the hooks today, that’s exactly what happened. My wife successfully remove five of the six hooks, but she accidentally ripped the release tab off the last one.

While there was a small edge sticking out from under the hook, I couldn’t get ahold of it. I tried needle nose pliers, but the edge was too small. I was able to snag a small piece with tweezers, but it just ripped right off.

Unsure of how to proceed, I decided to try loosening it up with a hairdryer. Bingo! After about 30 seconds of heating and gentle tugging, the hook came loose without damaging the paint at all.

If you’re having trouble removing Command adhesive strips, I hope you find this helpful. If you have any other ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi January 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Worked like a charm! Thank you so much!

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michelle June 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Thanks, just did this and perfect, came right off, left no mark!

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Jenn July 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Unfortunately this didn’t work for me. I have concrete walls (apartment building) and I had used several 3M hooks to hang items. I had 2 tabs break when I was removing the hooks. I tried the hairdryer trick with the first one and had no luck. I ended up peeling off a nice sized chunk of paint (uh-oh!). So the second one I took a hammer and used the back of the hammer to snap off the bottom of the hook which exposed a portion of the tab. Then I just pulled the tab as normally directed and off came what remained of the hook. I ruined the hook but was able to save the wall.

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Rae December 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Thank you so much!!! I could not figure out how to do it and I would’ve been fined $100 had anything been left on the wall! Lifesaver you are!

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Kate January 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm

This was very helpful. I was taking the Christmas lights out of the window and three of the tabs broke off. Heating them with the hairdryer allowed me to pop off the hangers and then I was able to rub the remaining adhesive off the window. Can’t tell they were ever there!

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Hannah February 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! SO HELPFUL

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James July 30, 2012 at 6:16 am

Well, this kind of worked. I got two of my hooks down, no damage, but the other two ripped off noticeable bits of paint. Luckily, I think I have enough to get it color-matched to patch it up.

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GL October 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I tried removing them this way, but one of them damaged the wall severely by tearing off not just the paint but the layer underneath it. I will never be buying anything by this brand again, as the wall looks terrible now.

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Sharon December 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Worked great! Thanks

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Master December 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I pushed the hook (towards the wall) and it picked the bottom side up a little… while applying this pressure, my wife heated the whole hook/mount and it slowly loosened. I could see it loosening because we had a clear hook.

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debbie January 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Your idea worked like a charm! Our 5yr old tore off tab and of course we didn’t find out until today while we were putting away Christmas decorations… Ours were on our dining chairs..we put each childs stocking on the back of their chair. Fine wood furniture. Thanks for your advice!

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BigEasyCC January 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Thank you so much! I used the big command hooks on my desk (beautiful wood) and the 2 strips on one of the anchors tore off. I used a hairdryer and letter opener to pry behind the anchor and it came off in about 20 seconds. All that was left was some of the sticky strip that rolled up when I rubbed it. That you for saving my desk!

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Katy January 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

It worked!!! Thanks!

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Lucy January 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I was doing the exact same thing today – taking down the hooks off the fireplace mantle that were used to hang the Christmas stockings – and the last tab ripped off. Your suggestion worked perfectly. I would have never thought of that on my own. Thank you SO much!!!!

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DownunderJim March 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Brilliant!
Just removed about a dozen hooks with 2 of the command strips breaking off in the process. The hair-dryer trick works a treat. For one of the hooks with nothing left to get hold off we used some dental floss to pull down behind the hook as it was heated. This is an additional technique if needed.

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Leah May 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm

WOW tried to get a hook off from my desk at college before move out day and this worked! Thanks so much :)

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Kim June 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Thank you SO MUCH!! This worked perfectly. You are a total lifesaver, I would have been fined if I had left those on my dorm wall.

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