How To Remove Labels From Jars For Reuse


There's no need to buy new jars for your pantry! Many products come in glass jars that can be easily reused. The only thing is getting those labels off. Unfortunately some labels can be trickier than others depending on the material (plastic or paper) and type of adhesive used. Here are seven different ways I remove labels.

Hot Water

This usually works for me when the label is made of plastic. Boil some hot water. Place your jar in the kitchen sink (for safety reasons) and pour the hot water into your jar. The heat will soften the adhesive. Once it's cooled enough to handle (about 10-25 min), you can peel the label off.

Soaking in Water

This often works best for me when the label is made of paper. Place your jar in a bowl and fill it with hot water from the tap so that the label is fully submerged. Let it sit for 15 minutes before trying to peel it off. Sometimes I soak them overnight and peel the labels off the next morning


Some adhesives are more stubborn than others. Some times the label peels off cleanly, other times it leaves a residue, and on the rare occasion it will leave a thin layer of paper. Rub in oil (any type, such as coconut or olive. I use canola from years ago since we will no longer consume it) until the label is fully saturated. Let it sit for a little bit (the more stubborn it is, the longer) before trying to remove it. I like to use an old toothbrush to scrub the any glue off. Once removed, wash the remaining oil off with a surfactant based cleaner like dish soap (I use Oasis).

Scrubber, toothbrush, or baking soda

Using something gentle yet abrasive in conjunction with the oil method above helps remove glue. I always have an old toothbrush on hand, but you can also use baking soda or a pot scrubber like this one from Redecker. Don't use your dish sponge unless you want to wreck it!

Peel Very Slowly

This mostly works for plastic labels. If you start at a corner and peel very, very slowly, and try to pull parallel to the jar rather than out/away/perpendicular, you can cleanly remove the label without remaining residue.

Use The Label

If you used the peeling method, sometimes there are some tacky spots still stuck to the jar. Using the label you just peeled off, stick and re-stick it to the tacky parts several times and sometimes it will pick up the pieces. 

Essential Oils

A drop of lemon or eucalyptus oil can also help remove stubborn glue. Make sure to either wear gloves or dilute it with a carrier oil (like coconut) so your skin is not in direct contact with it! Essential oils used straight can burn or irritate your skin. 


My method:

  1. Collect jars. I like to wait until I have at least 5 and then do them all at once.
  2. Boil water.
  3. Place 2-3 jars in the kitchen sink (just in case they crack or tip over!) and pour hot water into the jars. 
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes until the water has cooled enough that the jars can be handled.
  5. With hot water still inside, slowly try to pull off the label from a bottom corner. If it's not budging, put it down and let it sit some more.
  6. Once the label is peeled off, pour out the hot water and rub oil all over the glue residue. Work it in really well. Use an old toothbrush to help scrub the glue off. 
  7. Squirt a tiny bit of dish soap on the jar and clean as usual. 

I like to do jars with plastic labels first, then pour the hot water into a bowl to soak paper labeled jars in. 


a few Uses:

  • store dry goods in the pantry
  • store leftover food in the fridge
  • give things away to friends or family (since it's OK if the jar doesn't come back to you)
  • drinking glass
  • overnight oats
  • storing homemade almond butter