How to Easily Remove Sticky Labels From Glass Jars

Want to learn the easiest way to remove sticky labels from food jars? Our simple six-step process uses all-natural, eco-friendly ingredients you already have in your home to get jars squeaky clean!

empty glass food jars with labels on a wooden table
Don’t toss those jars! Save empty food jars and remove labels naturally for zero-waste kitchen storage.

Do you reuse glass food jars? We love to save both large and small empty jars to use for zero-waste food and household storage but hate when paper labels and sticky glue won’t come off after running jars through the dishwasher. Fortunately, I have a quick and easy (and environmentally-friendly) fix to get jars squeaky clean!

👉 To remove sticky labels from jars using only all-natural ingredients you already have at home, simply follow these six steps:

  • Fill your sink or a large bowl with hot water
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons dish soap and ½ cup of white vinegar
  • Submerge jars in water and let them soak for 20-30 minutes
  • Remove jars from water and easily remove labels
  • For sticky label glue that won’t come off, mix together equal parts oil and baking soda in a small bowl, then rub onto label glue and scrub with a dish rag or scrub brush
  • Wash and dry jars and they’re ready to use!

Read on to learn more about how to get your jars squeaky clean without the use of harsh chemicals or weird ingredients you don’t have? Let’s do it!

🎥 Watch the video

Watch the video below to see my 6-step process for removing labels from glass jars in action!

YouTube video

bottles of distilled white vinegar, dish soap, oil, and baking soda on a wooden table
Ingredients you’ll need: vinegar, mild dish soap, baking soda, and oil

💧 Fill your sink or a large bowl with hot water.

First, fill your sink or a large glass bowl (one big enough to submerge jars) with hot water. Cold or warm water will work as well, but hot water will help to quickly melt the glue on the labels.

water pouring from a silver faucet into a sink
Fill your sink or a large bowl with hot water.

🧴 Add 1-2 tablespoons dish soap and ½ cup of white vinegar.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of a mild dish soap and ½ cup of vinegar to the water. The dish soap will remove the paper labels from glass food jars and the vinegar will help to remove the sticky glue that is used on some food labels.


🚰 Submerge jars in water and let them soak for 20-30 minutes.

Next, add the glass jars to the water, making sure the labels are completely submerged, and let them soak for 20-30 minutes while the dish soap and vinegar work their magic on the labels.

a hand submerging an empty glass food jar with a label into a sink filled with soapy water
Let jars soak for 20-30 minutes.

🧽 Remove jars from water and easily remove labels.

Take the jars out of the water and remove labels from the jars. The labels should come off easily without any sticky residue, however if there are pesky glues or paper still stick to the jars then move on to the next step to get those labels off once and for all.

a hand peeling a label from an empty glass food jar
Easily peel off labels.

🧼 If there is still label residue, scrub with olive oil and baking soda.

If you’re still dealing with sticky labels, it’s time to put in a little elbow grease. In a small bowl mix together equal parts oil and baking soda and stir to combine. For only a few small jars this may be 2 tablespoons of both oil and baking soda, but for more jars use ¼-⅓ cup of each.

oil pouring into a small white bowl filled with baking soda
Mix together baking soda and olive oil.

Once combined, rub the oil and soda mixture onto the sticky label and then use a dish rag or a scrubbing brush to rub the label clean. You may need to let the oil mixture sit on the label for a few minutes to loosen up the adhesive glue.

oil and baking soda rubbed onto a sticky label on an empty glass food jar
Rub onto sticky labels, let sit, then scrub off.

♻️ Wash and dry jars and they’re ready to use!

Finally, wash and dry the newly naked glass jars and they’re ready to use around the house. Fill large jars with homemade vegetable scrap food broth, take them to the grocery store to fill up in the bulk section, or organize your kitchen junk drawer with small jars. The reusable jar options are limitless!

empty glass food jars without labels on a wooden table with a green plant in the background
Labels are ready to use for bulk food and home storage.

❓ Questions + Quick Tips About Removing Labels From Jars

empty glass food jars on a wooden table

Is the dish soap and baking soda method for removing labels environmentally friendly?

As long as you choose a mild dish soap that is highly rated by the Environmental Working Group (check EWG’s dish soap recommendations here), then using the dish soap and baking soda method to remove glass jar labels is the most eco-friendly and safe-for-you option compared to other cleaners (washing soda, rubbing alcohol, etc.).

Can I use washing soda to remove labels from jars?

You can use washing soda to remove sticky labels from glass jars. Simply replace the vinegar and/or baking soda in this how-to with washing soda.

However, though the Environmental Work Group gives washing soda an A rating for eco-friendly cleaning purposes, it is not edible and is caustic (meaning can burn your skin) so make sure to use cleaning gloves when handling.

Can I use rubbing alcohol to remove labels from jars?

Rubbing alcohol can be used to remove labels easily from jars, however it is not technically an eco-friendly ingredient.

While rubbing alcohol is a powerful disinfectant with many household uses, isopropyl alcohol’s Material Safety Data Sheet warns that it may cause skin irritation if handling without gloves and serious harm if ingested, not to mention flammable.

For the purposes of removing labels, we suggest sticking with safe ingredients like dish soap and baking soda.

Can I use a hair dryer to remove labels from jars?

You can use a hair dryer to blow hot air onto a food label to melt the glue, however you will still need to soak the jar in either water or use oil to remove the sticky label.

For this reason we recommend cutting out this step and going right to soaking in hot water with soap, vinegar, and baking soda, which will also help adhesive glue to easily rub off.

Does removing labels with dish soap and vinegar method damage jars?

Removing labels with dish soap and baking soda does not damage jars and they will be able to be used again for other household and food storage.

Does the vinegar and dish soap label-removing method work on all jars and labels?

Using dish soap and vinegar should remove all paper labels from beer, wine, champagne, and other types of jars. If sticky labels persist, make sure to use a combination of oil and baking soda to scrub off pesky paper labels.

Some screen printed labels like dates or on some beer bottle may need a stronger scrub brush to remove. However, if the label is etched into bottle then it is not possible to remove the label.

Does the dish soap and vinegar method label removal method work on metal?

You can remove sticky paper labels from metal with dish soap and vinegar, and a small amount of baking soda if needed. Just follow the steps above for glass jar label removal and you’ll have clean metal containers in no time.

an assortment of empty glass food jars with labels on a wooden table

💡 Ideas for what to store in your newly clean jars

Now that your glass food and drink jars are clean and ready to use, here are some ideas to fill up reusable glass jar for a zero-waste container storage in your pantry and around the house.

  • Use reusable glass jars to store homemade food scrap vegetable broth. After saving homemade food scraps and making broth, fill up empty jars with homemade vegetable broth made from food scraps and freeze until ready to use.
  • Take your empty glass jars to the grocery store to fill in the bulk section. Fill up jars with pantry staples like rice and other grains, dried fruit, flour, sugar, nuts, seeds, and other foods instead of using plastic bags.
  • Organize your pantry with glass jars. Take foods out of plastic or paper boxes and store in see-through glass jars for a clean pantry and to easily see which foods you have on hand. We’ve found that food that is visible gets eaten, so put food in jars to reduce its changes of being wasted.
  • Organize your kitchen drawers with small glass jars. Use empty jars to store small bits and bobs in the kitchen, like coins, leftover bread ties, bag clips, etc. No more opening ten drawers to find your small kitchen items!
glass food jars filled with dried bulk food on a wooden table with a green plant

👉 More zero waste kitchen ideas

♻️ Want more inspiration for going green in the kitchen? Join the Green Living Community for plant-based recipes, sustainable kitchen hacks, and get our FREE guide to meal planning to reduce food waste!

empty glass food jars with labels on a wooden table

How to Easily Remove Sticky Labels from Glass Jars

Kristina Todini, RDN
Want to learn the easiest way to remove sticky labels from food jars? Our simple six-step process uses all-natural, eco-friendly ingredients like dish soap, vinegar, baking soda, and oil you already have in your home to get jars squeaky clean!
4.56 stars (9 ratings)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 label-free jars

Equipment

  • 1 Kitchen sink or large glass mixing bowl
  • 1 Kitchen scrubbing brush

Ingredients
  

  • 3 gallons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons mild dish soap
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Instructions
 

  • Fill your sink or a large bowl with hot water. You can also use cold water, but hot water will help to melt the glue adhesive used on labels.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons dish soap and 1 cup of white vinegar. The dish soap and vinegar will work with the hot water to melt the glue and allow for easy label removal.
  • Submerge jars in water and let them soak for 20-30 minutes. Letting the jars soak will help labels to be removed easily.
  • Remove jars from water and easily remove labels. Peel off labels and set aside any with sticky glue that won't easily rub off.
  • For sticky label glue that won’t come off, mix together equal parts oil and baking soda in a small bowl, then rub onto label glue and scrub with a dish rag or scrub brush. Let the oil mixture soak onto labels for a few minutes and then use a scrub brush or rag to rub off labels and glue.
  • Wash and dry jars. Then they’re ready to use!

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Is this glass jar label removal method eco-friendly? Yes, the dish soap and vinegar are environmentally-friendly ingredients.
  • What jars will this work on? Any empty glass or metal jars with paper labels. Etched or screen printed labels cannot be removed without damaging the jar.
  • What to do with jar once clean: Fill large jars with homemade vegetable scrap food broth, take them to the grocery store to fill up in the bulk section, or organize your kitchen junk drawer with small jars.
Keyword kitchen hack, remove glass jar labels, zero-waste reusable glass jars
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

UPDATE: This tutorial was originally published in May 2020 and was updated in for clarity in March 2022.

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11 Comments

  1. I’m thrilled to have this info. Eco-friendly is the way to go. Thnx for posting it and making it so clear.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Ann! Living a more sustainable lifestyle is all about learning small resiliency skills and reusing glass jars and containers is a great way to start. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Unfortunately this did not work at all. The paper on everything shredded on being pulled (as normal after being soaked for half an hour) and the glue was completely unaffected by the vinegar/soap bath, leading to tedious scrubbing.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Tim! Was the water warm? You’ll need warm water to help the glue to melt. Did you do the next step in scrubbing with the oil and baking soda mixture? Some pesky glues require a little more scrubbing. Hope that helps.

  3. You ‘natural ingredients’ healthy hack experts are pain in the a$$. People, don’t torture yourself with this bullcrp. You can remove it easily with lighter fluid, nail polish or alcohol

    1. Hi Neno, thanks for your comment. I don’t typically respond to comments like this, but this post is showing people how to remove the labels from jars with natural ingredients because some people with serious health conditions like asthma or with small children don’t want to use things like lighter fluid or nail polish remover in their homes. These types of products are not good for our health to breathe in, and many people do not want them in their homes. This post is for those people, and many have found it very helpful.

    2. It takes very effort to use this method. It’s easy and it works if you follow the directions. I’ve used this method many times with all kinds of labels. Some labels require more work to remove (as stated in the video) but it’s certainly not a “tortuous” process. Plus, the ingredients used are found in most peoples’ kitchens, as opposed to alcohol, nail polish remover and lighter fluid(!). If many of us choose to use natural ingredients to remove labels from jars, why should it matter to you?
      And by the way, the next time you’re replying to a comment, post your opinion without resorting to name-calling and belittling.

  4. Worked wonders! I do believe it would be good to say “hot” water rather than “warm,” but that’s all! love the simple instructions, they made everything easy.

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