6 ways to remove sticky labels from glass

Author: Kerri

If you reuse empty glass jars to store coffee, spices or other kitchen ingredients, for jam or making or pickling, or perhaps for recycling in a craft project, you will know that it’s not always an easy job to remove the old label. Depending on the adhesive used, it can be downright impossible to get it all off!

Avoid the temptation to use a knife or other sharp object to scratch off the label – you could damage the glass – and also injure yourself in the process. Much better to save yourself some time and frustration by trying out some of these tried and tested tips.

Hot soapy water

Immerse the glass jar in very hot water and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes or until the label comes off easily. Scrub with a little washing up liquid to get rid of all the sticky residue. Alternatively, you can put the glass jar in the dishwasher.

Another option is to use the microwave: Fill the jar with water and place in the microwave until the water boils. This should loosen the adhesive enough for you to scrape it off.


There are all types of oil that you can use to remove labels – try vegetable oil, citrus oil, or essential oils such as tea tree or eucalyptus. Even peanut butter has been known to work wonders!

The basic principle is that the oil cuts through the adhesive and loosens the stickiness, so it can be easily removed. All you have to do then is to wash off the oily residue with hot soapy water.

Citrus based cleaning products

Limonene is the active ingredient that cuts through the glue. Check the cleaning products in your household to if any of them are suitable. If all else fails, you can always try a real lemon or orange.


Suitable products include rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or clear, high volume alcohol drinks such as vodka. Sweet or flavoured alcoholic drinks won’t work, as the sugar will make the label even stickier! Other flammable substances that are effective solvents include hairspray, nail polish remover and lighter fuel.

It goes without saying that extreme caution is advised when using any of the above products.


White (distilled) vinegar is a budget friendly way to remove stubborn adhesives from glass or ceramics – but care needs to be taken with painted surfaces, as the acidity of the vinegar may cause damage.

Proprietary products

If you would prefer use a product that has been specifically formulated to remove sticky residue, there is no shortage of choice on the shop shelves. Look out for Sticky Stuff Remover, Sticky Label Remover, Goo Gone, CitraSolv and similar products.

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