Home DIY 5 Easy Steps for Removing Labels from Glass and Plastic Bottles

5 Easy Steps for Removing Labels from Glass and Plastic Bottles

By isha.m
1.8K views 2 mins read
Removing Labels from Glass and Plastic Bottles

Okay, okay! I admit it!

My mom used to save bottles too, just like yours, as if she couldn’t help it.

And to be honest, I also like saving glass jars and bottles, and sometimes plastic ones too.

No, not only to keep something in there but because they can be amazingly useful for decorative purposes. You love those decorative pieces too, don’t you?

But the one thing I used to hate about the whole process was removing labels from glass and plastic bottles.

Damn, those pesky glue residues!

Guess what? They don’t piss me off anymore, and I bet they won’t do that to you as well, at least not from today on.

Why? Well, keep reading to find out!

Key Takeaways:
The easiest way to remove labels from bottles is by submerging the bottles in water mixed with soap and white vinegar and scrubbing them later.
Alcohol, essential oils, and hair dryers can be used as alternative ways of removing labels.
The strong odor of clean bottles can be reduced by using baking soda, white vinegar, dish soap, and citrus peels.
Reusing plastic and glass bottles or jars can contribute to reducing waste and saving money.

Why Should I Remove Labels and Reuse Jars?

I know, sometimes they just won’t come off easily. This is where you’re going to feel like throwing the bottles around or using them with labels.

Though it’s one of the most frustrating things to do, I’d still say you better remove the annoying sticky labels and use them.

Why? For the following top two reasons, of course:

Reducing Waste

There’s already enough waste lying in the environment. You don’t have to pile up some more when you have the chance to reuse the bottle or save it for future use.

Plus, this is an environmentally more eco-friendly initiative, as it leads to zero waste. After all, recycling is going to eat up some more energy and resources in the process.

Saving Money

You really like this part, don’t you? You can indeed reuse a jar or bottle without investing in a new container.

And if you can peel them right, these can be used for making decorative items, which surely will save you some more money. By the way, you can also sell them to someone who wants to make them useful.

The Easiest Way of Removing Labels from Glass and Plastic Bottles: The Step-by-Step Guide

Getting rid of the stubborn adhesive and making the bottle squeaky clean is surely a hard nut to crack. But that is only when you don’t know the right technique.

how to get sticky labels off plastic
How to Get Sticky Labels Off Plastic

So, here’s the easiest way to remove labels from glass and plastic bottles without breaking a sweat:

Step 1: Fill Up the Sink

First of all, fill your sink with hot water. A large bowl will also do the trick, as long as it’s big enough to submerge all your bottles and jars.

There’s no harm in using warm water, but that can’t loosen the labels and glue residue as fast as hot water.

Step 2: Add Dish Soap and White Vinegar

Now add 1-2 tablespoons of dish soap to the water. Make sure you’re using the mild one.

Then add half a cup of white vinegar in there. The dish soap will make it easy to peel off the label, and the vinegar will help to remove the sticky glue.

Step 3: Submerge the Jars and Bottles

It’s time to put the jar or bottle in the water. Make sure it’s completely submerged. Now soak the jar in there for 20–30 minutes at least.

In the meantime, the hot, soapy water and the vinegar will take care of the labels.

Step 4: Removing the Labels

After soaking in hot water, pull out the jar and start to peel right from the edge of the paper label. It should come off easily now, and the same goes for the sticky residue.

But don’t be surprised if you see any glue still sticking there. This is a common problem for jars with paper labels. Don’t worry; the next step should fix that problem.

Step 5: Scrub the Residue

Put in a little elbow grease on the residue if there’s any.

All you have to do is get a small bowl and mix baking soda with some lemon essential oil or cooking oil.

Stir the oil mixture, apply it to the bottle or jar, and let it sit there for a while. Later on, remove as much as you can with a butter knife, but do it gently, as you don’t want to scratch the bottle.

Oh! Did I forget to tell you about the mixing ratio of the oil and baking soda?

“Well, usually, it’s 2 tablespoons of both ingredients when you’ve got only a few small jars. But if you’ve got bigger jars to store, use 1/3 cup of these ingredients.”

Step 6: Washing and Drying

Now simply wash the jars or bottles and dry them up to use around. If you want them to dry really fast, try blowing some hot air with your hair dryer.

By the way, you can use your dishwasher as well for the clean-up if you like. Once they’re dry, you can keep anything in there, like natural ingredients or food.

Some Other Alternative Ways to Remove Labels From Bottles

I guess only one method is not enough for removing stickers and labels from plastic containers. So, let me tell you about a few more. No, I’m not going to ask you to use nail polish remover on your bottles or jars.

That’s because when you’re planning to put food in jars, I don’t find it wise to use harsh chemicals like nail polish remover on them. Plus, it can damage the bottle as well.

Alternative Ways to Remove Labels From Bottles
Alternative Ways to Remove Labels From Bottles

White Vinegar

If you’re asking for an easier way of removing labels from glass and plastic bottles, using vinegar is the most non-toxic one.

All you have to do is get a pot or container, fill it with water, mix some vinegar in it, and heat the pot.

Once it’s set on low heat, submerge the bottle in there and leave it there for 15 minutes. If the label seems stubborn, keep it there for longer.

Once the label is loose enough, peel it with your hand. If it’s resisting, you can always use a plastic spatula and try lifting it off. But make sure to do it carefully so you don’t scratch the bottle.


I’m not a fan of alcohol. But I don’t see any harm in using it to remove labels from glass jars. First, you need to dampen a paper towel by rubbing alcohol on it.

I don’t suggest soaking, as that’s not necessary. Now gently rub it over the label. And of course, start with small sections.

Once you’re done with the whole label, let the alcohol sit there for a few minutes. This should help the alcohol dissolve the glue. After a while, you’ll probably see the label loosen. Now peel it off slowly from one corner to another.

If you’re feeling resistance while peeling, apply some more alcohol and let it sit for longer. Once you’re done peeling, wash the bottle thoroughly with warm water and soap.

Essential Oils

When you’re running short on white vinegar, this is the method I’d suggest you try. Just take some essential oil and dilute it with olive oil.

“As essential oils are highly concentrated, use only 3–5 drops of this oil in the olive oil.”

Now apply it over the label with a cloth or cotton ball and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Later on, peel off the label gently. Now give the bottle a proper wash with soap and warm water.


This is another effective method to remove sticky labels from jars. Plus, it’s one of the quickest methods as well.

All you have to do is blow the bottle’s label with your hairdryer till the heat melts the label’s glue. Once the glue is melted, peel off the label with your fingers.

By the way, you can melt the glue by putting the bottle in the oven for 10 minutes as well. And in case you want it faster, use a microwave for a few minutes. But the problem with this method is that you can’t use it for plastic bottles.

Ways of Getting Strong Smells Out

Okay, now you know how to say the labels goodbye. But there’s one more stubborn thing to get rid of—the strong smell of the bottle. Don’t worry; you’d find it easier to pull off with the following methods:

Baking Soda

Make a baking soda paste with 1 part water and 3 parts baking soda. Now apply it inside the bottle and leave it there for the next few hours.

For a better result against stubborn smells, I’d suggest keeping it overnight. Rinse the bottle and air dry it afterward.

White Vinegar

Fill the bottle with white vinegar and leave it there overnight. The mild acidic properties of the vinegar, such as acetic acid, will neutralize the odor by this time. After that, simply rinse the bottle and air dry it.

Dish Soap and Hot Water

Fill the bottle with water and add some soap to it. Also, make sure to use hot water, not boiling water. Close the lid and shake it vigorously.

Keep doing that for the next 2 minutes. Now rinse the bottle and air dry it.

Citrus Peels

Fill up the bottle with water and leave some lemon or orange peels in there. Keep it that way for a few hours, and the citrus oils will break down the smell by this time. Later on, wash the bottle and air dry it.

Wrapping Up

So, how does it feel to know that you won’t have to struggle while removing labels from glass and plastic bottles?

Great, I guess. I’ve tried to let you know all the possible ways to pull off the job. Not only are you learning here how to remove labels in the easiest way, but all the alternative techniques as well.

Happy removal!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What dissolves sticky labels?

A bunch of things can dissolve sticky labels, and the most useful ones are heat or hot water, certain oils, and alcohol. However, not all of these are suitable for all types of bottles, especially alcohol, as it can be harmful to certain plastics.

How do you get sticky labels off plastic?

Submerge jars or bottles in hot water for 5-6 minutes. This will loosen the adhesive and make the label come off easily. If that label doesn’t come off instantly, repeat the process.

How do you remove sticky labels from glass without scratching it?

Soak the bottle in hot, soapy water for 20 minutes. Once the adhesive is loosened, peel it off. If there is any residue, make the blunt side of your butter knife useful to scrape it away. But avoid using harsh chemicals, and make sure you’re not putting too much pressure here.

How to remove labels from plastic bottles without damaging the label?

This is a bit tough, as strong adhesives usually don’t come off easily and damage the label to a certain extent. However, you can try submerging the bottle in cold water for 10-15 minutes. This might loosen the glue a bit and make the peeling easier.

Does WD40 remove stickers from plastic?

Yes, it can be used to remove stickers, but doing it with caution is a must. The oil can loosen the glue but can take a toll on the color of the plastic. So, make sure to conduct a test before giving it a try.

Can I use rubbing alcohol to remove labels from jars?

It’s true that rubbing alcohol is effective in tackling labels on jars. However, it’s equally good at dissolving adhesive and making peeling adhesive. But they can be harmful to certain types of plastic. So, a test is a must before trying it.

Why should I remove labels and reuse jars?

Of course, you should! No, labels won’t make the jars less useful, but they will surely make them look more appealing. And reusing makes it a money saver and planet saver move.

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