This Is The Best Way To Remove Labels From Glass Bottles, By Far

Remove labels easily by putting bottles into a sink full of water and washing soda and let them soak.
The first time I tried this I was amazed at how the sticker just floated away!

For the longest time I had a love/hate relationship with repurposing and reusing empty containers. While I loved being able to give empty bottles and jars new life by finding some other way to use them, I also hated how hard it was to remove the impossibly stubborn labels attached to them!

Over the past decade of my blogging career, I’m sure I’ve tried nearly every method under the sun for removing labels from glass jars and containers. I’ve mixed up dozens of potions and concoctions in my attempts to remove that sticky combination of paper and glue, but as is often the case, it turned out that the best solution was also the simplest one!

And I’ll be sharing my super simple method for how to remove labels from jars, bottles, and other glass containers here in today’s post. Hopefully this quick and easy method will make us all more likely to repurpose our glass instead of throwing it out! :-)

removing labels

My Secret Weapon For Removing Labels From Glass

It turned out that the solution to my problem of how to easily remove labels was already in my laundry room cupboard: OxiClean! Just one scoop of OxiClean and some warm water is all you need remove the labels from a whole batch of jars, bottles, or other glass containers.

Not only is it among the most effective methods I’ve tried, but it’s by far the easiest one! The OxiClean does all of the hard work for you, and you just sit back and watch those stubborn and sticky labels slide right off!

To learn about other useful things you can do with OxiClean around the house, check out this post!

How To Remove Labels From Glass

You’ll need:

removing labels

Directions:

Start by gathering the glass items whose labels you want to remove. Place a sink stopper in your sink’s drain, add a scoop of OxiClean, then start filling your sink with warm water.

removing labels

Turn off the water when the water level in the sink is high enough to cover your bottles. Place the glass into the Oxiclean solution, and allow it to soak there for about 30 minutes.

removing labels

After half an hour, come back and check on the labels. (Put your gloves on first though—OxiClean can really dry out your skin!)

removing labels

The labels may have fallen off the glass at this point, or you may only have to peel them off. Either way, you shouldn’t have any trouble washing away the remaining residue!

removing labels
removing labels

Then just give your glass items a quick rinse, dry them off, and they’ll be ready to reuse in whatever way you see fit! :-)

What About Other Types Of Containers?

While this is by far the best method I’ve used for removing labels from glass containers, other methods may work better on other types of containers. Get all my best tips and tricks for removing labels and other types of stickers from all sorts of surfaces, check out this blog post.

What sort of containers do you like to reuse or repurpose?

Read This Next


Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

MORE IDEAS FROM

Bright Ideas

  • I used goop off this past year to get the labels off. We use the jars at Christmas and put tiny lights in them. It’s so pretty on our fireplace.
    The store I work at has a huge bin for glass recycling.

  • Unless the bottel is one that is lovely and that you wish to keep to display, why remove the label? If you are recycling the bottle, caps that can be attached and labels do not need to be removed.

  • If people are not reusing their glass bottles, I hope they are not “throwing them out” as you mentioned . I hope the bottles are put in a recycling bin. I will try this OxiClean soaking method the next time I want to remove labels from glass bottles. Since the soaked bottles had the tops off, I’d suggest they have a good wash and rinse with hot soapy water before you used them for food storage.

  • I get an old dish towel and fold it longways into two or three thicknesses, depending on the height of the label and jar. I soak it through and only wring slightly and wrap it around the jar and secure with a few rubber bands. I keep it in the sink, wetting again as needed and then the labels will slide right off after awhile. Often I do have to use some oil with a plastic scrubber for a few seconds to remove the glue.
    i am definitely putting Oxi-Clean and WD40 on my shopping list though after reading the posts below. Thanks!

  • Jillee ❣️ ~ thank you so much for all the info you share- I use you as my GoTo for anything and everything!!
    Id like to suggest that you add a comment or two to your posts to let us know if your suggestions are safe to use with Septic Systems.
    Thank you dearie❣️❣️

  • “Oxygen bleach” (Oxy Clean, Stain Solver, sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, soda ash) are very effective against organic compounds (plants, blood, molds, slime, etc.) whereas acids like vinegar, citric acid, phosphoric acid, etc. are effective against inorganic compounds such as lime, calcium, minerals.

    Oxygen bleach needs hot water and 4-5 hours to fully complete the chemical reaction that turns the solution into plain water and a few harmless salts, so items must be soaked. This is not only great for dissolving any glue containing organic compounds to remove your labels, it is also a superb cleaner of anything organic.

    Not to sound like a commercial (!) but it will super-clean the sink you are soaking your items in of all food and hidden gunk. It is safe for stainless steel, porcelain, enamel, glazed tile, grout, cement, plastic, house siding, stucco, decking, roofing, anything that can be kept wet for 4-5 hours. I buy a 50 lb bucket of stain solver brand every year (they usually have at least one sale) and use it inside and outside the house. The front of our house faces north and the roof, cement, and siding start to get algae in the wet weather, oxygen bleach kills and removes the algae, keeping my front walk and steps from being slimy and slippery. And it is safe for the environment since it is just oxygen, water, a few salts that can be rinsed off of plants, lawn, etc.

    (Be careful of porous surfaces, the oxygen bleach won’t hurt them but they may discolor from being soaked and absorbing a lot of water.)

    Can’t speak highly enough about cleaning most everything with this, leaving only the inorganic stains to be treated with some type of acid.

  • Another method for removing labels: Fill the container with hot water. Wait about 10 minutes then start peeling gently from a corner. This usually doesn’t leave glue residue, but if it does, just a short spurt of WD40 will help. Then wipe clean with paper towels.

  • Needed this method this morning! After bouts with 3 other methods, including goo gone and peanut butter, the label was still basically there, sans top layer. Thanks for all you do to make easy to follow directions, great photos, and practical help.

    • Hi Jrae, for me, wd 40 sometimes works, sometimes not and like you say, get out the scratch pad
      and using both, most of the time it still doesn’t work. I often end up throwing the jar away. I’m giving the OxyClean a try.

  • Use WD 40 works great. Tear label off as best you can. The spray with WD 40. Use scratch pad and rubs right off. Wash will with soap and water

  • Oh durn!! I can just kick myself for throwing out empty jars yesterday ! OH well I will save some more and got some in fridge waiting to be emptied.

  • I usually just add them to the sink when I’m washing my dishes. I’m allergic to detergents (ammonium laurel sulfate) and use latex gloves, so I’m able to use straight hot water. By the time get the rest washed, the liable is floating in the wash water.

    Sometimes I heat the label up with my hair dryer, or a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol. The latter is a safe to use in cleaning grimy fingerprints off book covers etc.

    For the tougher adhesives, I’ll use a dab on peanut butter, if it’s sturdy item,

  • Great! So glad someone finally mentioned Washing Soda! Many years ago a good friend, who worked cleaning houses, told me about using washing soda for most anything, woodwork, cabinets, greasy/dirty things both indoors and out. Makes everything squeaky clean and leaves no suds. Its my go-to for cleaning. a Handful in a half bucket of hot water and you are ready for anything!

  • I am going to do a project with the labels, not the jars, haha…. do the labels come off nicely and in one piece? I can re-purpose some of the jars as well, obviously ….

  • Labels! The bane of my existence! I began making homemade wine… the first batch went into brand new never been labeled before bottles… I felt like a kid at bottling shop … oooooh the label assortment and the bottle shrink capsules… I went wild…as we began to drink the wine reality settled in… all those pretty labels had to come off…nearly 90 bottles of wine (Firm believer of go big or go home). Sooo after much experimenting … pour very hot water into bottle, let sit a few minutes, test an edge and if it still gives grief let sit a few more minutes and try again … if it doesn’t give up the fight it probably won’t and you need to proceed with the above arm and hammer washing soda method or worse case scrape off and bring out the goo gone. All label adhesives are not equal… wisdom has taught me to save the labels for the bottles I give away and I put a label on the wine box…cover it with another label when the box is emptied and reused…

  • I just tried this. I experimented on a large pickle jar that had both a paper label, and one of those horrible plastic labels. They both came right off without any scrubbing or extra work!! I had NO residue to remove. Thank you for this amazing tip!! I had never heard of the washing soda prior to this post (I’m fairly new to the blog) so I am also excited to try all the uses for this as well! Thank you again!

  • I like this. But I want to know about washing soda will it be ok in the sink? I hope
    The sink will not go bad. Do let me know about this.
    Thank you.
    Margret Mary.

  • I find the same result (label coming off) with just soaking in plain warm water. I don’t need to add anything to the water. I don’t use plastic, so don’t know if it works for plastic also.

    • You are very lucky, then, Gail. I don’t know if we have different label glue in the UK, but some jars are a nightmare! I usually soak them in some washing-up water but will still have to use Label Remover to get everything off. I then wash them again. I don’t know if we have Washing Soda in the UK – I will investigate. (It’s probably called something else.)

      • We do have washing soda in the UK Camilla, the big supermarket near me label their own brand as Soda Crystals. We use a couple of teaspoons in each wash instead Calgon and the like, as we live in a very hard water area. Works a treat :) I shall give it a go with the labels, as even when hot water gets some of them off (and definitely not all!), there’s the usual residue which is a pain.

    • I use just water too. For the labels that don’t come off this way I use WD-40 on the dry container, letting them rest for a few minutes or more. The label often just slides off as well. For the labels that neither of these methods work on, I scrape them off with a knife as best I can then use the WD-40 on the remainder and glue. If that fails, I try soaking. When none of the above work, rubbing alcohol may work but I can’t use rubbing alcohol so I can’t say for sure.

    • Exactly Barbara! I have the same issue. Cute plastic containers but the glue is so hard to get off. The most success I’ve had is to let them soak in regular vinegar for a couple of days. Hope that helps.

  • You can peel off as much of the label as you can. Spray with WD-40 and start working the sticky stuff off. Sometimes I have had to let it sit for a few minutes. When finished rice with soap and water…! On plastic containers you will need to be more gentle…or you’ll end up with scratch marks.

      • My pharmacy must use some sort of super sticky adhesive. The paper rubs right off but it still leaves a sticky residue on the bottles. Time to break out the peanut butter it seems.

  • Just curious. If you plan to use a vinegar jar (with its distinctive shape) to make ‘homemade’ vinegar, why would you want to remove the existing label that declares VINEGAR?

  • You can fill the jar with water and put it in the microwave…the label peels right off, a little bit of Baking Soda will get any of the leftover goop off.

  • For items that can’t get wet, try using a blow dryer to loosen the glue of the label. I have taken labels off gifts as well as packages using the heat from a blow dryer.

  • Perfect timing. I have an empty bottle of Braggs sitting on my counter and washing soda in my laundry room. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for all the great tips. I so appreciate them all.

  • I also re-use glass bottles and I use the Method cleaner that is pink it has grapefruit in it and is free of chemicals and you could literally drink it so since I usually use the bottles for food items I don’t want to have any chemical residue contaminate the food. It works great too! I’ll apply the product and minutes later the label is off.

  • Thanks for this helpful idea! I’ll definitely try it. Do you have any ideas for reusing the small glucose test strip containers? I can recycle them, but I’d rather put them to another use.

    • Hi, I work in healthcare doing health screenings and one of the other technicians said that after the event if there’s any bottles left she wanted them. She proceeded to say that she uses them to hold change.

  • […] photo credit: That’s What che Said & One Good Thing by Jillee […]

  • […] photo credit: That’s What che Said & One Good Thing by Jillee […]

  • […] chase around the entire bottle many times before it finally comes off was the bane of my existence. This was so simple, it’s almost embarrassing that I didn’t find it sooner. This girl may just […]

  • 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!

  • […] A Super Simple Way To Remove Labels From Glass Bottles | One Good Thing By Jillee […]

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Do you think this would work on mirrors? My son put stickers all over a mirror in his room as a teenager and now that he’s moved out I want to clean it.

  • 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 :)

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • This worked great on the wine bottles I needed for my daughter’s wedding decorations. I just used a scrubby to take off the glue residue and was done in an hour! THANK YOU!!!

  • 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!

  • I love repurposing containers. I was using Goo Gone I bought at the dollar tree. I don’t like the smell and the oily residue it leaves behind. Going to definitely try it.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • That’s awesome. I’ve used olive oil or lemon EO, but never washing soda. I’m giving it a try. I’m sure I can use the water that’s left to clean something else with before letting it go down the drain.

  • Hi Jillee – this is just another one of your great ideas that I will be using. Thanks for your ingenious thinking and simple, easy ways to save both time and money!

    • I use them to drink from. I prefer not to drink from plastic bottles, even if they are BPA free. Things just taste better from glass. So, I have 3 that I rotate. I use the lid when I take it with me in the car.

      I used to use an old whiskey bottle but when I took tea in it, it looked like I was swigging alcohol in the car!! LOL!!! So, I changed bottles.

    • My reply disappeared!

      I use mine to drink water/juice/tea from. I think it tastes better than from a plastic bottle.

      I was using an old whiskey bottle but with tea in it, it looked like I was swigging alcohol in my car!! LOL! So, I changed bottles.

    • I swap out the plastic spray bottle for the glass bottle vinegar. This way I can use it for my DIY cleaners with essential oils & not have to worry about the cleaner being compromised. I haven’t had one not fit yet.

      • Great idea! I knew my DIY cleaners would be compromised in a plastic bottle, but couldn’t think of what to use as a spray that wasn’t plastic. Duh! Thanks!

  • 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.

  • This is timely! I have some bottles that I got the labels off of but they’re still very sticky. I’m going to use the bottles as water globes for plants, a tip I got from your blog!

  • Perfect timing! I’m collecting my wine and olive oil bottles to make incense burners. I was just discussing how to get the label off some of the bottles! Thank you jillee!

  • 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!

  • 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.

    CHEERS,
    CC

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

        ….BUT….
        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.

  • 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.

    • 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!

    • 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! :)

    • 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.

  • >