This is a natural, quick and easy way to remove labels from glass jars along, with that stubborn sticky glue residue.
For anyone aiming to repurpose or upcycle food jars, glassware and even essential oil bottles, this is going to save you a lot of time and effort and your jars will look fabulously clean (without chemicals).
Before we get into the nitty gritty of removal, the first step in how to remove stubborn labels is to soak them.
To save on water, I place them all in the sink after having done the dishes and allow them to sit overnight.
In the morning, some labels are really easy to remove (my favourite type!) but others I find I am scratching and scrubbing, making little progress.
As you can see here, these ones still have a lot of glue and some remnants of the labels and this is after having actually soaked several times.
Why they need to use such strong glue on food jars is a bit beyond me.
This is a problem, as I want to repurpose these glass jars to store food or to use as gifts and I don't want to be constantly touching (or seeing) sticky goo that I just know is going to attract dirt and dust.
The tall jars are pasta sauce jars and these seem to be the worst.
Even after scrubbing with a dish scourer, there is usually a lot of gunk left, both on the jar and in my dish cloth leaving me with a bigger mess....but all this can be avoided so easily.
Quick & Easy Glass Jar Label and Glue Removal
Soak for a few hours or overnight in warm soapy water.
If you are using dish water, just make sure it isn't greasy or oily as this will gunk up the inside of your jars and make extra work.
Get a cleaning rag or a teatowel, and some essential oil.
Eucalyptus works really well, and is cheap, but personally I just can't stand the smell.
Lemon or Lime essential oils are the best option as they help break down glue and residue, plus these oils can be used for so many other purposes.
(I'll list a few DIY recipes at the end of the post)
Apply 1-2 drops of Essential Oil on the front half of the jar, and quickly spread with your cleaning cloth, rubbing thoroughly. Now do the same on the other half. This approach was really effective for the two large jars which were the worst. For the smaller jars, I used 3 drops in total and this was all that was needed.
For Really Stubborn Glue!
The smallest glass bottle here, was actually the worst one of all and for this one I found a surprising way to fix it. I had actually soaked this little essential oil roller bottle over a number of weeks with absolutely no effect on the glue, which is typical for stubborn jars.
I was determined to clean it as I couldn't bear to throw it in the recycle bin. You can see below it was such a sticky mess, already attracting dirt, it even looks as though the photo is blurry.
The surprising thing that worked for this was applying a homemade peppermint sugar scrub which I use after gardening and also to protect my hands while I wash dishes.
I scooped out a glob of it and rubbed it over the roller bottle and it was like magic!
All the disgusting glue came off with almost no effort, and now it looks like glass again! (I'll post my recipe for the scrub as soon as I can find where I put it, in the meantime you can use the Lemon Sugar Scrub ).
After your glass jars and bottles have had all the glue and labels removed, simply rinse in water with a little detergent, or just wash when you do your next lot of dishes and you're done!
(The dishwasher does a great job of this too, so be afraid to take advantage of it)
These methods are also effective in removing price labels, stickers and other gluey messes.
Many people worry that recycling, upcycling and living greener is going to take too much time and effort, but little tricks like this are such a time saver, makes a big impact on how easy it is to repurpose items.
Here are a couple of very simple DIY Recipes you can try with Lemon or Lime Essential oils:
Homemade Minty Lemon Toothpaste
DIY Natural Reed Diffuser for Your Home