A Super Simple Way To Remove Labels From Glass Bottles

Removing Labels

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you will know about the love/hate relationship I have with repurposing household containers. (My Top Ten Repurposed Household ContainersRepurpose Glass Jars Into Multi-Purpose Storage Containers.)

I LOVE being able to turn ordinary bottles, jars, etc. into other useful objects with a new purpose…..but I HATE getting the labels off of them!

I feel like I have tried every possible method for removing labels. I even blogged about one of them (How To Remove Sticker Goo.) But last week, while researching something unrelated, I stumbled upon a website where collector’s of old beer and wine bottles were discussing how to remove labels.

Someone mentioned that you could purchase a product called “Super Grunge Remover” from a homebrew store that would do the job, and I was so excited about the prospect I ALMOST ordered a jar for $5.95.

Luckily, before I did, I noticed someone in the comments mentioned that the main component of Super Grunge Remover was sodium carbonate…..or more commonly known as WASHING SODA!



Removing Labels

Not only did I already have washing soda, I had SEVERAL BOXES of it in my laundry room cabinet for making my homemade laundry detergent!

Could it be that all this time I had the answer to years of label-removing torment sitting in my cupboard?

I think it goes without saying I had to give this a try! I just happened to have an empty apple cider vinegar bottle that I’d been holding onto because I’m going to try making my own homemade version soon.


Removing Labels

I filled my kitchen sink with hot water, poured in about a cup of washing soda (I had no idea how much to use, but in hindsight I could have probably gotten away with half that.)


Removing Labels

Then I gently submerged the bottle in the water and left it to soak.



Removing Labels

About half an hour later I decided to check on the progress, and lo and behold, when I reached into the water and pulled the bottle out, the label almost slid right off! (It WOULD have slid off if I hadn’t stopped it so I could take a picture!)


Removing Labels

Removing Labels

I gave the bottle a quick rinse, dried it off, and it looked like NEW! No label remnant or residue whatsoever.

Now, I can’t guarantee the same results on EVERY container with a label, because as you may know from experience, some labels are MUCH harder than others. But after this experience I can’t help but think this treatment would go a LONG WAY towards getting even the toughest labels off. It’s certainly the easiest method I’ve EVER run across!

(If you don’t have any washing soda on hand, check on THIS POST about how to make your own.)


Give it a try and let me know how it goes! 



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    • Vicki says

      I have always used WD 40 to remove the sticky stuff. I spray on, let sit and used paper towels to rub off. You still need to wash in hot soapy water to get the greasy stuff off, but it works very quickly!

    • Chelsie says

      With some plastic containers if you put super hot water in it and let it sit for a few minutes the heat will loosen the adhesive and you can just peel the label off. Though I tried that the other day w/my protein powder container and it was less than effective, but it works on other things fantastically. I think I might try this washing soda trick & see if it works on my plastic container! :)

    • Nechelle says

      For plastic jugs (milk containers mostly), I fill with very hot tap water, trying not to get the label wet, let it sit for about 5 or 10 minutes, and the label just peals right off. I use 8 to ten milk jugs as Christmas decorations along my front walk. I cut the top off just below the curve, put about 3 inches of sand/dirt in the jug, staple on a Decoration (I use cloth poinsettias with a leaf, but, I have also used red plastic bows), set a over sized tea light in the middle, and light them in the evening. I haven’t tried it for paper labels yet, but, since I have found Jillee’s site I will be re-purposing a load things I used to toss, so I will be trying it soon.

  1. mamat says

    I have had really good results using coconut oil to remove labels, especially from plastic and those that leave really stubborn residue. Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray that works especially well. I spray it on let it sit and rinse it all right off.

    • Sarah says

      I wouldn’t submerge a binder in water. Basicly they are just stiff cardboard covered in plastic. If they have any perforations it will ruin the binder. I would soak a rag in the mixture and lay it on the label.

    • Deborah says

      You can use your hair dryer to remove labels. Just run it over the label for a few seconds then it should peel off pretty easily. There may still be some residue but no paper left behind (if there is you need to heat the label longer before peeling). The heat from the hair dryer loosens the glue on the label allowing it to peel off really easy.

      To get the sticky residue off you can use a little rubbing alcohol on a wash cloth and that will take it off without having to scrub too hard.

      • Debbie G says

        I also use the dry or wet heat method to get the labels off …

        I don’t always remove the GOO! Depending on what I end up putting in it, I might need to put another label on, and the goo works great to keep it on – in addition to the adhesive on the labels, or I can print on plain paper and it still sticks.

        Bonus Tip:
        I often print my labels on GLOSSY paper with my Epson printer. Those turned out to be WATERPROOF – much to my delight! Now I can make labels that stay on, and don’t smear! Before that, I had to put clear packing tape over the labels to keep them from fading away.

  2. CC MCCART says

    I am always on the outlook for glass bottles of all sizes/shapes/etc as I make homemade Irish Cream for XMAS gifts. I’ve been know to ‘sift’ through my friends trash cans…LOL This tip will definitely be used in my kitchen as I ‘collect’ these glass objects. Thanks so much.


  3. says

    I have used with success as well rubbing alcohol and just soaking the glass jar and even tin cans or plastic containers in my dish water. I live the container submerged in the super super hot third degree burn water(I am not kidding, our hot water tank temperature is turned up that high) dish water while I pre-soak my dishes, wash, and then at the very end I clean the recyclables and the labels come right off. Those would be two ideas for those peoples who do not have washing soda on hand. I do have the washing soda on hand for when I make my homemade laundry detergent and I will give your method a try. Thanks!

  4. Linda L says

    Washing Soda…who’d a thunk it? I’ll be trying this today. I save all sorts of jars and am constantly removing labels. Some are easy while others prove really stubborn. I bought some citrus air freshener for my car that I found out works wonders on sticky label residue. It’s called Citrus Splash, made by California Scents, comes in a yellow aerosol can, and I purchased it in the automotive section of Walmart. Since it is made from pure citrus extracts, I’m thinking it’s possible to achieve similar results from a citrus essential oil, like lemon, orange or grapefruit, but I’ve not tried these yet. However, since washing soda is cheaper than essential oil or fragrance spray, I’m excited to have this option.

  5. Marianne says

    I also use Washing soda for homemade laundry detergent.
    I needed to clean my oven racks. I tossed in about 1/4 cup of washing soda and let it soak. The grunge was floating off by itself. A little scrubber some got almost everything else of. Easiest, most effective method I have tried yet.

  6. Cath says

    I compulsively save bottles to repurpose, so I appreciate all your label removing tips. I imagine there are many different glues that are used to glue labels on, so we need a whole arsenal of cleaners to get them off. I like washing soda because it seems cheaper than other cleaners (and I, too, make my own detergent so I always have it on hand). I immediately thought of a permanent label removing set up–maybe a set of graduated containers for different sized bottles and jars, and a shaker of washing soda (in a repurposed shaker, of course). I’m thinking if I can match a bottle with a slightly larger soaking container, I don’t have to use much soaking liquid. I’m thinking, also, a waterproof weight to put inside the jar, or rest on top of a bottle (around the neck), to hold it down. If I could get it down to a science, I wouldn’t hate the job so much. Also, a reminder that you can write easily on glass with a Sharpie, and clean it off with a paste of cleanser and water. I label containers of leftovers in the fridge that way so I know what they are and how old.

  7. jayshree Davé says

    I have always had success with filling up the bottle with hot water to warm the glue from the inside before peeling off the label. Once the label is off use oil (any oil) to wipe off the glue residue.
    My pantry is all filled with a set of coffee jars and all sorts of repurposed containers. Sometimes I put personalized labels or decals on them.
    Love your website!

  8. says

    I use lemon oil. Couple of drops, a couple of rubs with the finger and off it comes.

    I was able to get dried latex paint off my husband’s work pants by using a couple of drops of lemon oil, letting it set for a few minutes, and washing as usual.

  9. Rita Montague says

    I just cleaned one of my vinegar bottles that had paper and glue stuck to it that I couldn’t get off, so I gave up for months. The washing soda worked perfectly. I even put a couple of teaspoons inside the bottle and filled it with hot water and shoot it up. Then I soaked it 30 minutes. Worked like a champ.

    Thanks, Jillee!

  10. Julie says

    My husband began home brewing and he soaks his bottles (old beer bottles so he can bottle the new beer he makes) in water and oxyclean (I had the “Sun” version on hand so he used that). Works like a charm! Most of the time the labels are floating in the water. A little scrub and the bottle is like new! Highly recommended :)

  11. Annette K. says

    This worked great on some jars I had in the sink. I was just about to weaken & use some nasty adhesive removal chemical stuff (YUCK) and now I have clean jars to fill with bath salts & herbal remedies of all sorts. I have my last batch of baby food jars soaking now. I am going to miss having access to those.

  12. Koni Dannaman says

    Hi Jill

    I have a question, my daughter lives in a dorm at college, she always seems sick with cold or allergy signs. I know there germed filled, and was wondering what natural things she could do to make her better. She has a very full schedule and I know she is worn down, you always have such great advice, looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you

    Koni Dannaman

  13. deniseinark says

    I love this tip. I am a campground host and currently collecting Bud Platinum bottles to half-bury around my garden edges. The labels are clear plastic and require a razor to start the label, and then pliers to grab the corner and pull it off. But the glue on them is BRUTAL. It’s almost camping season again and I’m looking forward to making more progress with my beautiful blue beer bottles. There are also plenty of liquor bottles to be had around here, too…I sure love using glass bottles and will love the process of reclaiming them so much more if this makes it easier!

  14. Ann says

    Hey now, quit reading my mind!! lol I have an empty Bragg’s bottle sitting under my sink waiting to be de-labeled. Now I don’t dread doing it and will take it off tomorrow. :D Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  15. Hugh says

    Avid homebrewer here so I feel your frustration. I too have tried everything under the sun to get labels off bottles. What allot of homebrewers and myself use is simply Oxyclean Free and water. Let soak for about 30 min and they slide right off.

  16. colin T. says

    I am a homebrewer and have to de-label cases and cases of bottles at a time. I soak them in oxyclean for a few hours and come back to labels floating on top of the water. warm water works best..just don’t let them sit for days on end or the bottles get a nasty residue on them. I am going to give this a try to compare and see what’s cheapest – thanks for the tip!


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