How To Remove Labels From Jars

zero waste

So you've saved up a bunch of jars and bottles, and you're reusing them and refilling them, but they're covered in worn old labels and sticky adhesive.  You spent a few minutes trying to pick away at the label with your fingertips, and your only success was to break a nail.  Sigh... I've been there too.  But then I discovered another zero waste life hack!  I now use it for any jar that still has adhesive stuck to it from its former life.

1. Pick Off As Much As You Can

Soak the label-covered jars in some water over night, or even just for a few minutes, and pick off what you can.  The labels and adhesives are all so different, depending on the brand.  I can't trust that they don't have plastic in them, so I won't put them in the compost, I'll just put the scraps of old labels into the landfill bin.  But I'll be reusing the jars for such a long time that I won't need to do that again for ages!

2. Make A Paste

Get a mug, pour in a teaspoon or two of Bi-Carb Soda, then drizzle over a dash of oil.  I've been using sunflower oil, but you could use any oil you like.  Smoosh it together with your fingers.

3. Spread Paste Onto Jars

Cover it all!

4. Leave It Overnight

This step is important.  Leave the jars out overnight (I just leave them on the kitchen bench).  I tried skipping this step, and it doesn't work!

5. Clean It Off

The next day, clean the paste off the jars with water and dish soap.  Ta-Da!

Smooth and silky, no sticky muck.  This method has worked on all but one of my jars (a large plastic jar) - most labels will not survive this paste!  However, here's what happens when you skip step 4:

The sticky muck prevails if you don't leave the paste to work on it all night long!

Another option is just to leave the old adhesive there, and wrap it in your own paper, like Who Gives A Crap toilet paper wrap:

That way you have some paper attached to it so that you can write the tare weight on it.  You can also write the product number, which is useful when you're shopping at bulk food stores like The Source Bulk Foods.

Have you tried swapping labels, or have you tried a paste for label removal?  Do you have any other label-removing methods?  Comment below!

Thanks to The Waste Free Store for this great blog!


P.S: Now you have cleaned your jars, make some fermented food! Read our Beet Kraut recipe here.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published