How to Remove Sticky Labels from Glass Bottles & Jars


Don’t Stress, Just Do This! Get those annoying sticky labels off all those cute jars once and for all….I will teach you how I do it without stress, and without chemicals if you are the sensitive type too! Don’t let a unique looking jar you want to re-purpose end up in the recycle bin because of this sticky situation.

Do you ever struggle with those pain in the a$$ sticky labels? You can try to get under them with your fingernails but at best with nails alone, much to your consternation you’ve got a broken nail, a jar with yucky label residue and are probably in a bad mood to boot ??!

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As someone who has made a career out of collecting all kinds of bottles and jars let’s STOP the madness once and for all.

Keep Your Jars….And Your Nails Too!
I always save every unique or aesthetically appealing jar or bottle I can find. I swear there are more to repurpose than you can shake a stick at! I use them for candles, vases, bathroom vanity compartments, the list goes on and on. You should too because underneath that “Chunky Salsa” message, there is a treasure waiting to happen.

One of my weaknesses is the old-school Coke bottles like the one I used for this project here (I kept the label on for that one because it was a limited edition and wanted to preserve that) And once I saved a salad dressing bottle because it had this really cool triangle shape and I thought it would make a cute flower vase.

Some labels are only loosely attached and I can just cut it with scissors and peel it off and I only have to use a little elbow grease on the seam where the label was attached -that’s not so bad. And some, like this adorable yogurt jar on the left, just come off cleanly…but that’s the exception. Most labels are on there good – unfortunately.

First things first: DON’T put your jars in the dishwasher – this is a common mistake. Yes, it will remove the label, but all those label paper bits may clog up the drain.

Products That Get Rid of Sticky Label Residue
OK, here is a field guide to what I do! First, I wash it out good – especially if it held something food related (jam jars tend to be the most attractive looking). I rinse it out and then under warm water I go over the label which helps loosen it a little. I can then peel off the outer part where all the product writing is.

cleaning products that remove labels

Then that bugaboo is revealed, all of that awful white fibrous stuff. Sometimes it’s actually clear gummy crapola like this salsa jar I have here – just as bad! This is what usually involves some kind of substance as hot water isn’t enough.

There are two products I love for this and can always depend on to remove sticky label residue from jars like gangbusters. They are WD-40 and the other is Goo Gone. Never let me down and never not been under my sink cabinet ?? I spray on a film over the label and then I leave it alone for at least 10 minutes so the product can soak in.

I always make sure to let the jar rest on a paper plate so I don’t have a mess to clean up later or drippys on the counter.

I use a plastic knife so I won’t scratch the glass and I can just toss it when I’m done. I go over the soaked label and just start easing it up. It really comes off just like that -in big pieces too. I scrape it off with the knife and then I get a clean paper towel and go over it again to remove what’s left of it.

I wash the jar again with some mild detergent soap and rinse and then – bada bing! I am done.

These two products are solvent based, which means they are flammable and all that jazz. I just use common sense, wear gloves, crack a window, etc. I realize though, that some people are sensitive to chemicals, and I respect that so I’m going to show you a few other methods. The method is the same, I mean just the product.

Remove Label Residue Without Chemicals
OK, I remember from my experience in this post that cooking spray could be a lifesaver! Now would lightening strike twice in this matter? So here I go. I applied a film of nonstick cooking spray to the remaining label residue on this bottle here.

Rubbing it in with fingers (which you can do safely with products like this) I gave it a good 15 minutes. And then….

Houston we have liftoff! OK…almost. Some of it still remained.Now sometimes this stuff doesn’t always work in one fell swoop… I decided to give it another treatment.

Didn’t do that well….and then I remembered how I used rubbing alcohol once to break up facial wax residue on my fingers (which is even more stubborn than label or tape residue)

Do as I mention earlier…rinse the jar under hot running water as hot as you can stand to help loosen the label. If you’ve got a rather tough label, get yourself some rubbing alcohol (the medicinal kind) The next closest thing may be acetone nail polish remover. I dabbed on some rubbing alcohol and repeated what I did above.

Well wouldn’t you know….it worked for this and this bottle was a toughie….

Vinegar Can Help With Sticky Label Residue
I didn’t know this at the time, but I found out that white vinegar is also good for getting those pesky labels off jars. I was recently contacted by the editor at Tipsbulletin who has an excellent and comprehensive post about vinegar’s many surprising uses. The list mentions vinegar for removing labels….so I took it upon myself to try it out!

The article mentioned to apply it full strength and let it set a few minutes on the intended label….so here I go. Vinegar can do some amazing things, like repelling insect pests…as you can see cats are not put off by it which is nice ?? .

When I returned (about 10 minutes later) I got my plastic knife and proceeded to start on one corner – It did work to get the bulk of the label off without strain – I DID need to do a re-application to remove the rest of the white residue. As you can see in application#2, it looks much better.


It does seem like there will always be those stubborn labels that take more than one application of something – they key is to pick something that has been proven to work so you aren’t endlessly peeling and scraping! So I encourage you to try some white vinegar if you haven’t already.

Vinegar is a great great product and can clean almost anything…I tried it on some older paintbrushes I’d had a slight lapse in cleaning and they turned out great!

More great information about the amazing cleaning power of vinegar can be found here!

Tip: Older labels tend to peel off more easily in my experience. If you’ve had some jars in storage for awhile, try peeling the labels off and see for yourself. It must be the combination of humidity, time, and the change in paper’s acidity that cause this.

So I hope this will be a big help to you? Try these suggestions and let me know how it goes for you. Good luck and may your crafting days be long, but cleaning days short ??


Updated: 06/12/2023 — 6:54 PM

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