Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

You have a perfect reusable container if you can easily get that label off. This is a guide about removing labels from plastic containers.
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8 found this helpful
July 13, 2012 Flag

Use a hair dryer. Move it over label for a few minutes on warm, then turn dryer off. Start to peel from one corner. It should peel easily. If there is any residue left, use a cotton bud with a little eucalyptus oil. That will dissolve it. Wash in soapy water to clear any smell of the oil.

By Lyn from Bowen, Australia

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Anonymous Flag
December 11, 20160 found this helpful

I used shortening overnight and it came right off with a paper towel. I was making 10 waterless snow globes for my sunday school class and I used plastic jelly jars (plenty of lab testing lol ) .

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10 found this helpful
January 19, 2011 Flag

I make a lot of presents using jars that have those darn sticky labels on them. Then I found this, it works wonderfully!

Lightweight, non-reactive, unbreakable, and usually airtight plastic containers are perfect for storing dried herbs and other treasures. Reusing them reduces waste and environmental impact much more effectively than labor - and chemistry-intensive industrial recycling. The only hitch is those stupid labels. Most glues don't stick to plastic, so the ones used to stick labels on it have to be practically bulletproof. Unlike glass containers, plastic ones can't be de-labeled by soaking in hot water. Scrubbing scratches up the plastic, and even then it only removes the paper. Tacky glue remains to stick to hands and attract dirt. But, removing labels from plastic containers is deceptively easy once you know how. For success every time, without scratched containers or residual glue, follow this simple procedure:

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Apply a thick coat of cooking oil to the label in question. Allow it to soak in, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Try to peel the label off. If it comes readily, proceed to the next step. If it doesn't, repeat steps 1 and 2. (Many labels require two applications; some take several.) After the label has been peeled off, some sticky, partly dissolved glue will remain. To remove it, coat the area with oil a final time and allow it to sit overnight. Wipe off the oil and dissolved glue, then wash the container in hot, soapy water. No trace of label or glue will remain.

Although this is not the book in which you'd expect to find information about removing labels, it does in fact have one of the best set of directions for solving this very commonly frustrating challenge. It is also one of my favorite books, because of tidbits just such as this.

Source: Adapted from The Neighborhood Forager, by Robert K. Henderson and Annie B. Bond

By JodiT from Aurora,CO

Related Content(article continues below)
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December 7, 20160 found this helpful

I have a different problem with price stickers on a wood surface that I want to paint on. You cannot use oil to remove the sticker if you are going to paint with acrylic. Sometimes even the hair dryer won't remove it. I wish they would not place those stickers on a surface that is intended for a painter to paint on.

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12 found this helpful
February 3, 2011 Flag

Use dry erase board markers for labeling plastic food storage containers. They will easily wash off with soapy water.

By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
September 11, 2007 Flag

I still can't get the label glue off the plastic bowls that I just bought.

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June 13, 20160 found this helpful

I used WD-40, let it soak and then scraped the label off with my fingernail. It worked but took about 5 minutes per bottle.

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August 30, 20160 found this helpful

I still cannot get labels off plastic medicine bottles. HELP !!!

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0 found this helpful
November 7, 2009 Flag

How do you remove adhesive label from plastic?

By Tammie from Fenton, MI

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November 11, 20090 found this helpful

With some labels the glue will dissolve with hot water. For those that don't, use lighter fluid. It won't hurt the plastic. I use lighter fluid for a million things around the house. Label goo, tar, tree sap, scuff marks, candle was residue. It removes magic marker from many surfaces. I've used it on my car, clothes, floors and walls, glass, plastic, even on myself and I've never had a surface so far that it's hurt. It evaporates, doesn't have an offensive odor, and it's cheap. Works ten times better than that expense Goo Gone or Goof Off and a lot less expensive. We don't smoke but have lighter fluid everywhere; under Kitchen and bathroom sink, laundry room, garage, even in my office. It's a multipurpose product!

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August 18, 20100 found this helpful

Use a product called oops! you can purchase at any hardware store. It removes paint, tar, lipstick gum, label residue, marker pen ink, glue and crayon. I remover glue left over from plastic container in about 10 seconds.

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0 found this helpful
May 15, 2011 Flag

How does one remove the sticky residue left after removing labels from plastic jars?

By Richard D.

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May 17, 20110 found this helpful

Alcohol, hairspray, nail polish remiover

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May 17, 20110 found this helpful

I use alcohol prep pads. Works well.

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0 found this helpful
January 4, 2011 Flag

How do I get the sticky labels off plastic containers?

By Kaky

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

Use vegetable oil (Crisco, Wesson) by putting on the label so it is saturated & let it stay on there for 15-20 mins. then try to remove. Repeat if still there. A quicker fix is Good B Gone which is meant specifically for this. Vegetable oil works, just slower & usually have to re apply more than one time.

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Anonymous Flag
May 25, 20160 found this helpful

You won't have to reapply oil if you make a paste out of the oil and baking soda. It holds the oil in place for hours. The basic principal is the same.

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June 7, 2013 Flag

I have tried most everything. It takes forever. Trust me I have used many, many techniques some are better then others, but it still takes a long long time. I am only talking about plastic bottles.

By Mario

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June 9, 20130 found this helpful

Hi Mario, I think different methods work better than others, depending on the adhesive that was used on the label.

I've tried soaking in hot water, pulling off the outer layer of paper, then scraping the rest off with my thumbnails. Sometimes I have more luck if I let it dry and remove the adhesive with a piece of tape; I have tried the regular frosted tape, clear packing tape and masking tape; I put about an inch of tape on the adhesive, press it down with a fingernail, then pull it up again; this works most of the time. Sometimes, if you can lift the label itself off most of the way, you can use its own adhesive to pull up the rest; just keep pressing a section of the label on the adhesive left behind.

I have also used GooGone, which does work, but is expensive and smelly.

I collected a lot of tips from ThriftyFun members, but haven't tried them yet:

1 - Soak in a sink of hot bleach water. If stickers don't come all the way off which they should and they do leave a sticky residue use furniture polish, believe it or not. The oils from the polish remove the sticky feeling on just about everything non porous that has sticker residue.

1 - Guaranteed method to remove sticky labels is to soak a cotton ball with Eucalyptus Oil and dab over the label, allow a few minutes for it to soak in and you should be able to gently remove the label. If the label is thick then gently score it with a knife to allow the oil to penetrate. Lightly rubbing the sticky residue with the cotton ball will dissolve it. This method works on both plastic and glass surfaces.

3 - Apply a thick coat of cooking oil to the label in question. Allow it to soak in, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Try to peel the label off. If it comes readily, proceed to the next step. If it doesn't, repeat steps 1 and 2. (Many labels require two applications; some take several.) After the label has been peeled off, some sticky, partly dissolved glue will remain. To remove it, coat the area with oil a final time and allow it to sit overnight. Wipe off the oil and dissolved glue, then wash the container in hot, soapy water. No trace of label or glue will remain.

4 - To remove gum, labels, or stickers, use baby oil. Soak a cotton ball in oil and apply to the sticky area and heat with a hair dryer. When adhesive softens, it can easily be removed.

5 - Use the steam from your iron to remove any type of sticky sticker off any surface!

Fill your iron chuck full of water and turn the heat and steam on High. Let it get good and hot, then hold your iron upright or over your sticker nightmare and start pressing that steam button as fast as you can. In seconds, the entire sticker can be lifted off with absolutely NO residue left on the surface.

6 - You can make a Goo Gone alternative that works very well (and doesn't smell as gross) by mixing two parts vegetable oil with one part baking soda. The oil loosens the glue, and the baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive to wipe it away. Rinse with hot water and that's it!

Hope one of these ideas helps. As I said, results can vary depending on the adhesive they used to begin with. Good luck!

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June 9, 20130 found this helpful

Set your hair dryer on hot and blow on the label. Just peel the label off easily. There may be a bit of sticky left that will come off with peanut butter rubbed on and wiped off.

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0 found this helpful
January 15, 2006 Flag

How do you remove the labels from laundry detergent and kitty litter jugs? Some of them seem to be sealed on. - M

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January 16, 20060 found this helpful

I have used cooking oil to get labels off things. All you have to do is cover the label real good with cooking oil and let it soak in the label, and then peel it off...

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Flag
January 27, 20060 found this helpful

Let me clarify this request... the product name, etc is not a label (as in paper glued onto the package) it is some kind of plastic which seems heat (?) sealed onto the container. I have had marginal success using packaging tape to strip the product info off yet this is expensive! Help! These are fabulous containers (laundry detergent, cat litter, etc) for planting flowers, tomotoes, etc yet I don't want to advertise the previous contents! thanks -

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0 found this helpful
May 27, 2013 Flag

I have tried to find almost everything. What is the best way to take labels off plastic bottles, jars, etc.

By Mario F.

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May 28, 20130 found this helpful

Soak and then peel or scrape the label off. Rub 'Goof Off' on the glue residue, and wipe that off with a plastic scrubby and then a rag. You might need to reapply the Goof Off. When glue residue is gone wash with hot water and dish soap.

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0 found this helpful
November 14, 2012 Flag

I'm at a loss to remove a label from a baby wipes container (Pampers brand). It seems to be sealed onto the container. Anyone?

ByJemma

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November 14, 20120 found this helpful

Use hair dryer. Try to lift up a corner of the label. Direct the heat under the corner. Be patient. Lift slowly. THis also works on price labels etc. Good luck.

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0 found this helpful
January 12, 2015 Flag

I need a quick way to get labels off of a plastic bottle. It is a hand soap bottle.

By KJeffery

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0 found this helpful
February 3, 2014 Flag

How do you remove glue from a plastic container? I have tried soaking the plastic with liquid soap wrapped around a washcloth. It did not work.

By Sherrie

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0 found this helpful
May 30, 2013 Flag

I am having a difficult time removing labels off plastic jars, etc. I have tried many suggestions. Glass is easy. Some labels on plastic jars are crazy hard to remove.

By Mario F.

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0 found this helpful
April 30, 2013 Flag

What is the best way to get labels off plastic bottles? I have tried almost everything.

By Mike

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0 found this helpful
March 25, 2013 Flag

How do I remove the label from hard plastic fresh pie and cake containers that are purchased in the bakery section of stores?

By L.W.

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0 found this helpful
January 4, 2011 Flag

It's nice to use the clear plastic bakery containers from Superstores for your own food giving, but what about the label? Try to pull very slowly so it comes off in one piece, then use the label itself instead of commercial products to remove the glue residue. Place it over the glue spots, scrape your fingernail across it, and pull it up. Much of the glue will come off. If you keep dabbing the label on, then pulling off, then dabbing, etc., soon you will have a residue-free container with no scratch marks that you can re-use.

By Patricia from Imperial, NE

Answers:

Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

A hairdryer works great, too, and normally doesn't leave a sticky residue. (08/11/2008)

By Pat

Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

That sounds like a lot of hard work. I have a few suggestions on top of that. First peanut butter will take off adhesive. Take off as much as the label as you can, then rub peanut butter over till gone. You can also try crisco or another oil of some kind. Heat, like from a hair dryer or soak in hot sudsy water will work most of the time. I hope this helps too. (08/11/2008)

By shirleyamh

Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol is very good for removing left over glue from stickers and labels. It also will remove scuff marks on floors, shoes, car doors, and is a great way to clean glass and mirrors for a streak free shine. (08/11/2008)

By Rachel

Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

If you get some stuff called "UNDO" at a scrapbook supply store, it will take it off too. It also works very well on pine pitch and gum. (08/12/2008)

By Chris

Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

Lighter fluid always works the best for me. (08/31/2008)

By Denise

Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

Don't laugh, but try crunchy peanut butter! The oils help loosen it and the crunchy parts 'exfoliate' it off!
Nail polish remover is a good all-purpose sticky stuff remover too.
(02/24/2009)

By CM

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0 found this helpful
November 7, 2009 Flag

How do I remove a large paper manufacturer's label that is glued on plastic? It is not one of those easily removable labels that use a peel off glue. I can't tear it off.

Dennis from Vernon, NJ

Answers:

Removing Labels from Plastic

Goo Gone works great for removing labels off of all surfaces. (11/21/2006)

By Erin B

Removing Labels from Plastic

Spray it with WD40, after a few minutes of letting it sit, it should wipe right off neatly.

Good luck. (11/21/2006)

By Paula Jo, Mebane NC USA

Removing Labels from Plastic

Gently use a hair dryer to heat up the glue. Do not get too close as it will warp the jar.

Soak in a sink of hot water then use Goo Gone and a safety razor blade and scrape down with the blade.
May have to resoak and and do Goo Gone again with the blade, but they do come off. Peanut butter jars are hard to get the labels off. I use the last method for it.
(11/25/2006)

By Mimipuppa

Removing Labels from Plastic

I bought two craft boxes with transparent plastic lids only a couple of days ago, tried to peel the labels off and ended up with a real mess that even detergent and warm water wouldn't shift. My tip is to use acetone free nail polish remover, applied with a make up remover pad. It works like a dream. Rinse with clean water, wipe dry and buff a little no damage or "clouding" at all to the plastic lid. (08/30/2007)

By Lorraine Weaver

RE: Removing Labels from Plastic

Removing Labels from Plastic

Saturate the label with cooking spray (Pam), and let set for about 10 minutes. Scrape off label with plastic pot scraper, edge of plastic spatula or something plastic. Repeat if necessary. Wash and use container. Cooking spray is meant for food, so is safe on any type of container. (08/31/2007)

By Jean

Removing Labels from Plastic

I use a hair dryer to get the label off and lighter fluid to remove the residue. (08/31/2008)

By sybers

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November 21, 2006 Flag

Whatever method you use, first test the cleaning/removal material in an inconspicuous part of the surface the label is stuck on the be sure it will not damage that surface.

If the label on the plastic has been wet, or the article has been stored where it was hot or humid, it will be more difficult to remove.

1. Dampen a small piece of cloth, or the end of a swab stick (cotton twisted on the end of a wooden match or orange stick). Dip cotton end in dry cleaning fluid.

2. Allow the fluid to remain on the label only long enough to allow the label to be rubbed off. Wipe away excess fluid immediately, and wash article in sudsy water and dry. (DO NOT ALLOW FLUID TO REMAIN ON THE PLASTIC SURFACE VERY LONG, AS IT WILL DULL THE FINISH OF THE PLASTIC.)

This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with reference from Mary Ellen Delsipee, and Isabel Jones, previous Extension specialists.

Source: MSU Extension

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