Removing Labels from Plastic Containers

Category Cleaning
You have a perfect reusable container if you can easily get that label off. This is a page about removing labels from plastic containers.
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July 13, 2012

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 Barrett H. from Bowen, Australia

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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.

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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:

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.

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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 Irishwitch from Aurora,CO

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Fill a container with pretty warm water (as hot as you can without it distorting the plastic container of course) and let it sit 5 minutes. This heats up the adhesive on the outside of the container. Don't get the outside (where the glue is) wet though.

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Dump out the water (still keeping the outside dry) and generously wipe the gluey spot with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil.
It will take a few swipes, but it will eventually remove all the gluey mess on the plastic!

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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.

November 7, 2009

How do you remove adhesive label from plastic?

By tammie from Fenton, MI

Answers

November 8, 20091 found this helpful

The way I remove labels is to apply oil,I use olive oil, to the label and let it soak. The oil will soften the label so you can peel it off. Also the oil doesn't harm the substrate.

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November 9, 20090 found this helpful

WD-40 works very well.Just spray a little on a rag and wipe.Let it soak for a minute and the glue will disolve.Then clean the WD-40 with any all purpose cleaner.

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November 9, 20090 found this helpful

I use a hair dryer, it works great for removing the glued stickers or labels. aim your hair dryer at label and start slowly pulling it away from what ever it's stuck to.

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Watch your fingers because the air gets hot! Voila! It's off in about a minute!

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November 10, 20091 found this helpful

Spray a tiny bit of no stick cooking spray on it or, W/D 40 type solution.

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November 10, 20090 found this helpful

Hot water inside the container can be used to remove labels from plastic, metal, or glass. Most labels are heat sensitive, so fill container with very hot water, allow heat to penetrate the label and then begin to slowly peel the label away. Keep the label dry and it is less likely to tear. Any remaining glue residue can be removed with goo gone.

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November 11, 20090 found this helpful

Hi Tammie, After peeling off the label as best I can, if there is any adhesive left on I use Surgical Spirit to remove the adhesive, I think perhaps you might call it Rubbing Alcohol in the USA (I'm in the UK).

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Sometimes I might rinse a just empty jar then when I have my daily bath, the jar soaks along with me; that way lots of stubborn labels remove easily. I hope this helps.

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November 11, 20090 found this helpful

Almost every time GooGone has worked for me ;-)

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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, 20102 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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January 15, 2006

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

Answers

January 16, 20060 found this helpful

Try GooGone. It's awesome on stuff like that. Also if you have some lighter fluid handy it works well on non-flamable areas.

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By Sharon (Guest Post)
January 16, 20060 found this helpful

Have you tried a hairdryer?

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By Lynne,NC (Guest Post)
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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By Miriam (Guest Post)
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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May 15, 2011

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

By Richard D.

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January 4, 2011

How do I get the sticky labels off plastic containers?

By kaky

Answers

January 5, 20110 found this helpful

Heat the label with your hair dryer and it will pull off easily and not leave any glue.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

Try WD-40 for the last little bit of gunk. Or if you want to buy something you can use Goo-Gone.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

How about steel wool and hot water? I get lots of labels off this way with little effort and no chemicals.

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July 6, 2017

How do I remove the plastic label off of the rectangular prismatic Temptations brand cat food boxes? It is a plastic label like on the newer Stater Brothers water bottles.

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June 7, 2013

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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January 12, 2015

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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May 27, 2013

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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April 30, 2013

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

By Mike

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November 14, 2012

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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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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May 30, 2013

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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March 25, 2013

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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April 10, 2019

Prescription bottles are handy to use for storing small items but it is desirable to remove the labels first. This is a page about removing prescription bottle labels.

A collection of labeled prescription bottles

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June 22, 2017

When removing the label glue from plastic bowls remember to make sure that the product you use is safe to use on plastic. This is a page about removing label glue from plastic bowls.

Green plastic bowls.

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