Putting stickers on your car: A step-by-step guide to applying car stickers like a pro

Are you ready to give your car a fresh, new look? Applying car stickers can be a great way to personalize and add style to your vehicle. But if done incorrectly, they can end up looking sloppy or even damaging your paint.

Fortunately, with the right tools and techniques, it's easy to apply car stickers like a pro. This guide will walk you through everything from choosing the perfect sticker for your ride, prepping the surface properly for application, and finally how to attach them so that they last. So let’s get started!

What you need

  • Alcohol-based cleaner

  • Microfibre cloth

  • Spray bottle

  • Warm water

  • Liquid soap

  • Squeegee or credit card

1. Clean the surface

It is essential to start off with a clean surface to get a professional, long-lasting result.

But you do not have to deep-clean your entire car. Instead, focus on the area you want to apply your stickers to.

Then, grab your alcohol-based cleaner and a microfibre cloth. Microfibre will prevent additional dust from settling on your car.

Wipe the surface thoroughly and let it dry before moving on to the next step.

2. Position your sticker

Now it is time to narrow down the exact position of your sticker. Do this before removing the backing paper.

Simply take your sticker and try out different angles and placements.

You can then use masking tape to mark the area you want to stick your car stickers to. This way, you can be sure your sticker will end up where you want it to go.

Where to put car stickers

If you are not sure where you could put your car stickers, check out some of our favourite spots:

  • Doors: Car doors have two advantages; they offer lots of space for creating a stand-out sticker without blocking your view while driving - perfect for some self-promotion.

  • Rear windows: The perfect location to get your sticker seen in traffic. After all, everybody behind you will look at your rear windows. But keep it safe. Ensure your stickers will not obstruct your view.

  • Windshield: You will find a lot of front adhesive stickers applied to the inside of the windshield. This is the perfect spot for direct messages or supporting a political issue. Keep the design small so it will not impact your view.

  • Bumper: Ah, a classic. Bumper stickers are famous for fun quotes or for supporting your political candidate of choice.

  • Petrol tanks: They might be small (depending on your vehicle) but we love tank stickers. Your tank is an already marked-off surface, making the application of your stickers that much easier.

And if you are unsure if you should even put stickers on your car, click here.

3. Use soapy water

You can skip this step, especially if you have applied stickers before. But soapy water can buy you some extra tries.

Car stickers come with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. That means once you press down on them, the glue starts to bond with the surface, making repositioning your stickers hard.

But with a mix of warm water (95%) and soap (5%), your sticker glides over your surface, allowing you to play around until you find that perfect spot.

Simply spray the soapy water onto the area marked off with the masking tape.

4. Apply slowly and remove air bubbles

With a steady hand, slowly remove the backing paper. If you have a large decal, do not remove all the backing paper at once, but gradually as you apply your sticker.

Avoid touching the adhesive as any dust particle could get caught underneath your sticker and create ugly bumps.

Use a squeegee or a credit card to smooth out the sticker (and push out the water, if you used that) while applying your decal.

Should any air bubbles get trapped, do not worry. You can push them outwards using your squeegee, credit card or thumb.

5. Let the adhesive bond

It is always a good idea to let your sticker bond with the surface for at least 24 hours. This gives the adhesive enough time to dry completely, resulting in a long-lasting bond.

Now, this does not mean that your car stickers will come off if you don't do this. We would simply recommend not getting your car washed within ten minutes of applying your stickers.


How do you clean a car before applying a sticker?

You can clean the area you want to apply your stickers to with an alcohol-based cleaner and a microfibre cloth.

Alcohol-based cleaners can include brake cleaners or household cleaners, but you can also use spirits like gin if you do not have anything else at hand.

Then, apply the cleaner to your area and rub it in with your cloth.

Do you put car stickers on the inside or outside?

You can put your car stickers on the inside or the outside, depending on the sticker you chose. There are two options:

  • A back-adhesive sticker is your standard sticker. It has the sticky side on the back and can be applied to the outside of your car.

  • A front-adhesive sticker which has the sticky side on top of your design. This allows you to apply these stickers to the inside of your car windows for the world to see.

Can you remove and reapply a sticker?

You can. Car stickers come with a permanent, yet removable adhesive.

That means your car stickers are strong enough to stick, but will not damage your paintwork when you remove them.

After you have removed your car stickers, you can re-apply them to a different surface. However, we cannot guarantee they will stick as firmly as before.

When you break the bond between the adhesive and a surface, you impact the adhesive strength as tiny glue particles are lost.

What kind of stickers can you put on your car?

Only use waterproof vinyl stickers to apply to your car. These are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, like extreme temperatures and rain.

This way, you can be sure your stickers will stay where you put them for years.

You should also ensure that the adhesive used is safe for car surfaces. Look for a pressure-sensitive, medium-strength adhesive. Do not opt for high-tack adhesives as these could damage your car.

Applying stickers to your car can be a great way of customizing it and making it unique. With the right preparation, materials, and technique you’ll ensure that your sticker will last for years without fading or peeling off.

And if you are at the other end of your car sticker's life cycle, you can find our top tips for removing car stickers here.

If you have any questions we have not answered in this article, please ask our experts anything. They will get back to you within 24 hours.