6 Ways to Remove Product Stickers and Labels

Get containers clean & ready for new products with these label-removal tips

Need to know how to remove a label from a plastic bottle or an old liquor bottle you love? We’ve all tried at one time or another to remove a label or sticker from a unique jar or tin or plastic bottle we want to reuse. Often, we end up throwing the container away after being unable to get rid of the label and all the sticky residue.

Now, multiply that frustration 100 times for the business owner trying to remove stickers from a shipment of glass jars they just received. Or an artisan crafter trying to remove old labels from antique apothecary jars they want to reuse. We feel your pain. So, to help you out, we’ve put together six ways to remove labels and stickers from plastic, glass, metal, and more.

Always make sure to test a small area of your container before using one of the removal options below. Some jars, tins, or plastic containers can be damaged by scrubbing, scraping, heat, or chemicals.

How to remove a label from a plastic bottle

If you need to know how to get a label off plastic, some of the steps below need to be tested before use. Chemicals like acetone and nail polish removers can sometimes remove the color from plastic products, so make sure and test an area before soaking or applying. Heat can melt plastic and sharp tools can scratch. If you want to see how to remove labels from plastic containers, we recommend trying steps 3-5.

1. Nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover and other alcohol-based products are great for removing stickers and labels from jars, bottles and more

Soak a rag, paper towel, or cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, lighter fluid, or yes, even cheap vodka. Let it sit on the face of the labels for at least 15 minutes for an easy way to remove labels. Once you see the alcohol has soaked into the label you can begin to peel it back and remove it from the container. Use a sponge dipped in alcohol to remove any adhesive left on the container.

Rubbing alcohol is not as strong as nail polish remover, so try nail polish remover or acetone to remove stubborn label adhesive.

2. Hairdryer

Use a hair dryer to heat up label glue  adhesive and peel label back from container

Turn your hairdryer on to high heat and run it back and forth over the label face for 30 seconds to melt the label glue. If the label doesn’t peel off, continue heating at 30-second intervals until you can remove the label. Use a wet, soapy sponge to remove any leftover glue. This method doesn’t always work on extra-strong label adhesives.

This is a great method for removing labels from glass jars with paper labels. It is not recommended for plastic containers, as they might melt from the heat of the hairdryer.

3. Label removal products

Goo Gone is a great product designed especially to remove things like labels and glue residue

If you need to know how to remove stickers from plastic, we can help. For really tough label residue, especially on plastic containers, you may need to resort to removal products like Goo Gone Sticker Lifter or Turtle Wax Label & Sticker Remover.

Simply apply the product with a rag or paper towel and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then peel the label from the corner or use a scraper to remove the remainder. Make sure to clean your container with soap and water before reusing it for your product.

4. White vinegar

Use a shallow container large enough to hold your jars. Fill your container with enough white vinegar to cover the entire label face and let them soak for 15 minutes or longer. Heating up the vinegar in the microwave or on the stove can help with tough labels. Carefully remove the jar and peel away the label. If they’ve soaked long enough, your label should be removed easily. Otherwise, let them soak a bit longer. Paper labels often tear into pieces when you try to remove them so dip a sponge in the vinegar and rub the label to remove any pieces. This is an ideal method for most glass and metal containers.

5. Water

Basic water is still a great way to remove stickers and labels. Simply submerge your items in a tub or sink full of hot water, the hotter the better. Just be careful not to burn yourself. For extra-durable labels, try mixing in some dish soap or laundry detergent. Let your container soak for at least an hour or overnight for extra stubborn label glue. Once the labels have soaked enough you should be able to easily peel off the label. Use a wet sponge to remove any adhesive residue.

This method is the easiest way to remove labels from things like glass jars. Just let them soak and go and get other things done while you wait.

6. Razor blades

While they’re not an ideal way to remove labels if you have a lot of containers to do, they do work. Hold an X-Acto® knife or a single-edge razor blade at an angle, carefully ease it under the edge of the label and push until a section is removed. Once you get the corner up, you can peel away the label. Occasionally your label will come off in sections. Just repeat the process until it’s all removed. It’s not recommended to use razor blades on surfaces that scratch like tin canisters and plastic. Test a small area before using this method.

When you’re ready to label your newly cleaned containers, make sure you choose the right label material, measure your containers correctly to get the right label fit, and apply your labels perfectly.

If you want to make sure no one has the same problem removing labels from your product that you did, check out all the removable labels available from Avery.

If you need to know how to remove labels from plastic containers, or you need any help with other label-related questions, please reach out to our California-based Customer Care Team at (800) 942-8379. They’ll be happy to help you with any label questions you might have.

Author: Melanie Neff

Melanie has an extensive writing background built on an impressive journalism foundation. As a reporter for USA Today and The Los Angeles Times for almost 20 years, she covered everything from the Los Angeles riots, fires, and floods to LA Lakers, Raiders and Clippers games and movie premieres. She followed her newspaper career with a long tenure covering commercial real estate financing and development. Melanie has been writing about small business marketing and labeling needs for the last 12 years. She thrives on reading, researching and expanding her knowledge of everything going on in today's business world and looks to provide the most valuable information she can to her readers.

16 thoughts on “6 Ways to Remove Product Stickers and Labels”

  1. I bought Avery Black & White Labels for Home Organization, Removable Adhesive so that I could put them on my very expensive stainless steel coffee vault container and change the labels whenever I changed the type of coffee in each one. Unfortunately, they don’t have removable adhesive, the reason I bought them, so the labels do not come off. They tear and leave massive amounts of paper and adhesive stuck to the canister surface. This is a nightmare. I have tried Goo Gone On The Go (pen applicator) which does absolutely nothing to remove the label and only leaves its own persistent residue. I need to restore my 10 coffee canisters, so I need something that will remove your non-removable Avery Black & White Labels for Home Organization, Removable Adhesive there surfaces. Then it would help to know exactly what labels would work for that purpose so that I can just simply peel them off and replace them with another label when I change the type of coffee that they are holding. Using those labels has caused a huge amount of aggravation, as you might imagine.

    1. We’re sorry to hear that you are having trouble removing these labels. Could you please reach out to our Care Team at avery.com/contact or call us at 800-462-8379 so we can take a closer look at this issue? We want to try to make this right for you.

  2. The best solvent for glues is inexpensive white spirit, or a similar petroleum distillate. Other oils can be used, but are thicker, don’t work as fast and leave more residual smell. Acetone cannot be used on most plastics, it also evaporates very quickly and is not economical. Heat can melt the glue, but PET bottles can’t be heated more than about 60 °C. Pour hot water into the bottle. Brittle labels can be pulled off in one piece and remaining glue dissolved and wiped up with toilet paper.

    Water soluble glues are rare these days.

    1. Jason,
      Wow! Thank you so much for all the great information. This will be very helpful to our readers.

  3. Thank you for the information. Many of us need this.
    I have found that if I score/slash a few places on the label, any of the watery or oily fluids will quickly soak into the label. Scoring is best for glass jars or bottles. May damage plastics.

    1. Another great tip Joyce. And very good point about not scoring labels on plastics. We love all the great ideas our readers are supplying on how to remove labels and stickers!

  4. I have always used the razor blade method, just be very careful on curved surfaces it can be hazardous! If there is a sticky residue left I will try many of the solutions you listed depending on what the container is made out of.
    I enjoyed seeing this as I had never read how to remove a label and just did what I thought would work and usually was successful. Nice to know I was doing it right!
    ~ Kate

    1. Glad we could help! Check out some of the other comments from our readers. They’ve offered some useful tips as well. Thanks for reading!

  5. I use an Aim & Flame. Quickly swipe the flame over the label a few times to melt the adhesive, just as you do with the hair dryer method described in your article.

    1. Thank you Ann! What a great tip for our readers. And an easy, inexpensive way to remove labels and stickers. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the tip! We’ve added it to the article as well so our readers can benefit from it.

  6. Peel off as much of the label as possible then slather the remaining area with PEANUT BUTTER! Wait 15 minutes or so to wipe off the residue and finish up with soap and water. Also, the hairdryer method works on cardboard boxes.

    1. Another great way to remove labels. Thank you Mary Ann. My problem is I like peanut butter too much to use it as a cleaning tool:). But what a delicious way to remove your labels and stickers! Thanks for sharing with our readers. I may add this to the article in the future.

  7. I usually use lighter fluid. I then follow the basic rule — lift and peal back carefully especially if you are reusing the label, i. e., a postage stamp accidentally applied to an envelope.

    1. Charles, this is great! I had no idea you could use lighter fluid to remove and reuse a label. We’ll have to try this one out. Thank you for sharing another great idea for our readers and our product development team. I may add this idea to the article in the future. Thanks again for reading and sharing.

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