Removing The Sticky, Deteriorating, Residue From Tool Handles, Surfaces, & Devices

Years ago, I noticed the handle on my hand mixer had become super sticky. Washing it with soap and water didn’t help, it’s as if the rubbery surface of the handle was dissolving. The mixer still worked great, so I didn’t want to replace it. Over the years, on the rare occasion when I needed to use it (I normally use my stand mixer) I always wrapped a paper towel around the handle, otherwise it was way too yucky feeling to touch or hold.

Sticky surface, Deteriorating on handle of hand mixer


I noticed when I got it out for these photos, the lower part of the handle where the paper towel was still wrapped around it isn’t as sticky as it once was. I guess some of the paper towel had somehow absorbed or infiltrated the sticky part. It’s still really sticky toward the top where the paper towel wasn’t touching it while it was stored away.

Sticky deteriorating handle on Sunbeam Hand Mixer


Around the same time the mixer issue started, I began noticing the little Bluetooth speakers that I sometimes use to listen to books and podcasts on my phone as I work around the house, had all started having the same issue. Argh! What was going on with all this melting, rubbery stuff?!!! I have 3 of these little Bluetooth speakers, and one-by-one their exterior started getting gooey and gross. When the surface gets sticky, fuzz and anything it touches sticks to it, and it’s impossible to clean it off.

Sticky residue on exterior of Bluetooth Speaker


When this issue first began, I looked for other Bluetooth speakers online, but none had a feature that I really love on this particular speaker—the ability to press a button on the speaker to stop or pause whatever I’m listening to. Most Bluetooth speakers require that you access the recording via your phone to pause it. Back before I had a car that would automatically connect to my phone, that easy access button on top of the speaker was crucial on car trips when I couldn’t use my phone to start/stop a book or recording. So all this is to say, I really liked (and continue to like) these speakers, but man, the sticky exterior was driving me nuts! I think at one time, I even tried cleaning it with Goo-Gone. Nothing ever helped, so eventually I resorted to wrapping a paper towel around the exterior, as I had done with the hand-mixer.

Sticky residue on exterior of Bluetooth Speaker


The final straw for me occurred about a week ago when I noticed the same issue was now happening to the handle on my Calista hair tools that I use several times a week. That was it, something HAD to be done about this!

Cleaning sticky surface of Calista Hair Tool


I did a search and found a video where a guy was having this exact issue with the exterior of one of the tools he occasionally uses in his workshop. Based on the comments under that video, this gooey, deteriorating, rubbery surface issue seems to be a pretty common problem on a lot of different products. I even came across a video where a guy was having the same issue with his remotes for his TV. In the first video, the product that worked to remove the residue was Isopropyl Alcohol. In the second video, the guy used nail polish remover. I decided to go with the alcohol.


The alcohol worked really well on the speakers, no elbow grease required.

Cleaning deteriorating rubber from exterior of Bluetooth Speaker


Here’s how all three speakers looked once done and it only took a few minutes to clean all three.

How I removed sticky residue from Bluetooth speaker


Next I decided to tackle the handles of my two Calista hair tools.

Cleaning sticky surface of Calista Hair Tool


It’s hard to show in a photo just how sticky these handles were.

Calista Hair Tool with melting, gooey rubber surface


The Calista handles took a lot more work to clean. If I had to guess, I wonder if it’s because they only recently started getting sticky, where the Bluetooth speakers have been deteriorating for a lot longer. So maybe the rubbery coating on the speakers was a lot further along in the degrading process, so easier to clean off. The shiny section in the photo below is where I had started the cleaning process.

Removing Sticky residue from Calista Hair Tool


You can see the part that’s been cleaned and how it looks as compared to the dull-looking, sticky part that still needed to be cleaned. Maybe the rubbery coating that degrades and gets sticky is supposed to make the tool feel more comfortable to hold, as opposed to a hard plastic surface. That would be great if it would stay intact and not start breaking down and getting sticky. The sticky has to go!

How I removed thes sticky residue from Calista Hair Tool


Here’s how this Calista tool looked after about 15 minutes of scrubbing with the alcohol—definitely took a lot longer to clean than the speakers.

Calista Hair Tool after Cleaning off sticky surface


My larger barrel Calista hair tool is starting to suffer the same issue. It wasn’t as sticky as the pink hair curler, but was definitely starting to have the same sticky issue.

Calista Tool surface becoming sticky and deteriorating


I was able to rub some of the surface up just using my fingers. Whatever that coating is that they are using on devices, it doesn’t hold up!

Rubbing away some of the deteriorating sticky surface on Calista Hair Tool


I didn’t think to take photos of this one after it was completely clean, but the alcohol worked well on it, too.

Remove sticky rubbery residue from Calista Hair Tool


Just wanted to share how this worked in case you are having this issue with something in your home. Please proceed at your own risk, I can’t guarantee it will work for whatever item you use it on, but it worked well for the things I cleaned. It did remove the Calista Tools logo, but it was worth it to me to get rid of the sticky surface. Also, be careful that you don’t get a bunch of the alcohol down inside the buttons or inner workings of whatever you’re cleaning. You don’t want to damage the item that you’re cleaning. I squirted the alcohol out onto my rag, not onto the item I was cleaning. That helped me control how much alcohol I was using. It probably goes without saying, but make sure that whatever you’re cleaning is not plugged in while you’re cleaning it.

Calista Hair Tool after Cleaning off sticky surface


I think I’ll tackle the handle of the mixer later today. It has been “dissolving” for so many years now, maybe the process will go as quickly as it did with the speakers. Have you run into this sticky, messy issue with any of the tools, devices, remotes, appliances, etc… in your home? If so, were you able to clean it off? I would love to know if you have found another option that also works!

Sticky surface, Deteriorating on handle of hand mixer

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  1. TERESA EZELL says

    Love the speakers. Are they still available?

  2. Georgia Clark says

    I have an expensive iron with the same problem on the handle. I hadn’t noticed the stickiness before I noticed the black residue on my ironed clothes! I also have a flashlight with this sticky problem.

  3. Margaret says

    Thank you for posting this!!! I’ll be coming back to see if anyone else has other remedies, too. I have a pot I use a lot and hate that sticky mess. I hope you’ll update in a while to let us know if the “cure” lasts! I’m off to try alcohol…

    • I will do that. I really hope this lasts. I think it will for sure on the Calista tools since they are a hard plastic underneath. I think it’s just the coating over that, that’s the problem.

  4. Cowgirl Diva says

    Lighter Fluid also works very well on that sticky residue yuk…!! I put a small amount on a few cotton balls and it comes right off..!!

  5. Juanita in OH says

    What a mystery and a lot of work! I hope you find out the cause one day, I would like to know also. Happy Cleaning.

    Juanita in OH

  6. Thank you so much for this information! I have thrown so many things away because I could not remove the sticky mess! I tried every cleaner I had but never thought about alcohol. You have been a huge help today! Yay!

  7. Rubbing alcohol is the best thing I have found to remove the sticky residue.. We have an LLBean weather radio that did the same thing and plain old rubbing alcohol did the trick.

  8. Nancy Brantley says

    I’ve never had that problem on appliances. Now, I’m very curious what causes this sticky issue. It is scary!?

  9. Thank you!

  10. Save that mixer, looks like a work horse! Sticky handle or not.

    • Yes! I cleaned it today with alcohol, and it changed the color of the handle, but it got rid of all the stickiness. Will not be a problem using it in the future now.

  11. Kim Domingue says

    Arrrrrrgh! I just recently tossed my battery operated wine bottle opener due to this stickiness issue! And, to my dismay, the model that I had and loved is no longer available. Sigh. Oh well, the hubs has a couple of digital tools that have the “sticky ickies”. I’ll try this on those before he gets aggravated and tosses them. Thanks!

  12. Baking soda also works. I cleaned the entire surface of a radio with baking soda and elbow grease.

  13. This is great information. I’ve had this happen on my Food Saver, hairbrush handles, and the dashboard of a car.
    I no longer own that car, but I’ll definitely try the alcohol on the other things.
    Manufacturers across the board must be using the same material for these items and components – it’s frustrating, to say the least!
    Thanks Susan!

    • Oh, I would be upset for sure if my dashboard did that. Argggh! I know, it really makes me wonder how many products this coating was used on. There should be some major recall or something!

    • This is happening to my husband’s dashboard. Also, very random, we have some black coat hangers and this is happening to them. Good quality ones for suits and I noticed the other month they were sticky, in the bin they went. A magnifying mirror has also become sticky, will give it a try.

  14. Thanks for sharing. I’ve had the same issue with our hand mixer, a hair appliance, flashlights, and portable chargers.

  15. What did you use to apply the alcohol? Paper towels or cotton balls or a toothbrush? I’m dying to try this on the a/c buttons on my car – I thought it might be because of the heat inside the car (our temps are the worst right now) but I’ve also seen this happening to things that are kept indoors in drawers, etc. But I need something that I can control so it doesn’t seep into the electronics. Are Q-tips too soft? I

    • I used an old, wash rag. Any old cloth will do, just don’t use a nice rag since you may end up having to throw it away. When I did the handle of the mixer today, it faded the color away, but it looked horrible before, so I don’t care. Now it’s at least not sticky. You may want to test a tiny spot first, just in case it fades the buttons a little. I didn’t have any issue with it seeping inside, I think it dries on the cloth too quickly for that. I squirted it out on the cloth to dampen the cloth, I didn’t squirt it directly on the speaker or handles that I cleaned, so it didn’t have a chance to get inside.

  16. Michele M. says

    Mixer for me same – enough to think it was yuck and I replaced it. What the heck! This was an amazing post and will save the landfill from being filled now. THANK YOU for sharing, Susan.

    • I hope it helps. I almost tossed that a mixer a few times, it was difficult to use and that black stuff came off on my hands.
      Thanks, Michele!

  17. I used denatured alcohol on the coated wire shelves in the garage. Because they were sticky they attracted a lot of dirt and Dawn did not remove that residue although it did get some of the dirt off. I saw a video online of a guy using it to clean the same shelves I have. It was a big job because I have a lot of shelves and I did it outside because they were down for garage painting. I used old T-shirt rags and disposed of them after.
    I did not want to replace because they were not inexpensive and they don’t make them quite the same. I do not think this is a coating that is applied; I think it is the deterioration of the plastic overtime. It not just the heat as I have some of those shelves under A/C and they got sticky also. Not sure if it will be a permanent fix but it seemed to take a long time to happen in the first place.

  18. Thanks for this tip! I’m going to try this on a couple of items in my house. Recently my kitchen cabinets seem sticky. I’ve tried a couple of things but they still seem sticky. Any suggestions?

    • Ummm, I’m not sure what would cause that. Jane, I wonder if someone has cleaned them with something that was a bit too strong? My son/DIL had a housekeeper that was using super strong wipes on their old cabinets before they were renovated, and it gave their cabinets a sticky feel…almost like it was melting the paint/finish. Thankfully that happened before their kitchen was renovated so not to the new cabinets.

  19. Franceil Parde says

    Why, YES, YES I have!! We have a golf cart…& the steering wheel is…just that…sticky feeling. I JUST said that to my daughter…and tried cleaning…ick, still gooey

    • I hope the alcohol works! Maybe test it on small spot before using it all over it, just to make sure the color doesn’t change a lot.

  20. Does humidity cause the problem ? Remember the issues with drinking glasses and the film ? Wonder if WD40 would work. Has anyone called the manufacturer of the appliances? I have a problem with my sliding glass door track and ended up using Pledge.

    • I don’t think that’s the issue in my case, since my mixer has just been stored in a cabinet…same for the Calista tools. That’s interesting about Pledge working on the track.

  21. Thank you for sharing. Always at own risk but you did the research and shared. Thanks again! So enjoy following you!

  22. DO NOT USE ALCOHOL on ANY PAINTED SURFACE! The alcohol will take the paint off, the lettering, etc.
    This sticky reside issue is on a lot of stuff made in the 2000’s, including the buttons of cars. If you look on line you will see that Lamborghini and Jaguar as well as BMW and many other items have this to include shoes.
    We paid 2000.000 to have all of the buttons in our Jaguar replaced.
    That said, there are many solutions, including alcohol, WD40, etc. Google it and look on YouTube as well.

  23. SharonFromMichigan says

    I have a CurlMaster curling iron that I’ve had for many many years that the handle is a gooey mess. It seems that the goo gets worse after the iron heats up. I love the iron & the barrel size, but I absolutely hate using it because the goo gets all over my hands. I tried Goo Gone but to no avail. I’ll have to give the rubbing alcohol a try. I hate to throw it out because it was expensive & they just don’t make this kind anymore. At first I thought maybe it was hairspray that was coating the handle, but it’s just too sticky for that plus it doesn’t wash off my hands with soap and water. What a mess!

  24. Daynajae says

    I’ve recently noticed that the handle of my umbrella is sticky too. I’m going to grab that right now & see if the alcohol works. Thanks!!

  25. Thanks for the tip…I have a few things that feel like that and it is yucky!

  26. Linda Prince says

    My husband recently noticed our nice recliners in our Mobile Suite RV had developed this problem on the sides and back, not the seats. They are vinyl but look like leather. He tried various things but finally hit on 70% alcohol and it worked. It took a lot of rubbing. Did not hurt the color but it is a pale beige. The RV is stored in an insulated barn, but heat and humidity have evidently finally taken its toll.

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