How to Remove Label Glue From Glass Easily and Naturally

hand uses steel wool scrubby on label

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

I have an assortment of glass bottles and jars that I’ve been saving and buying up at yard sales over the past month so I can store my homemade limoncello. Some of the jars I’ve saved had labels affixed with glue that came right off; some had glue that was very stubborn.

Unsuccessful Methods of Removing Labels

hands wash jar with label in sink
Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

I had one particular glass salad dressing bottle that would not give up its glue. I let it soak in hot water for a long time then rubbed with steel wool. Nothing. I tried an old bottle of Goo Gone that was ineffective. I even tried nail polish remover. That didn’t work either. Everything just smeared the glue around.

I wasn’t so happy with the chemical alternatives I was trying (and they weren’t even working), so I decided to do some research to find a natural, effective method. (Yes, I should have done that first. Sometimes, I try to take the easy way out.)

Creek Line House Method

After reading several suggestions on various blogs and discussion boards, I decided to try a method I found on The Creek Line House blog that called for baking soda, cooking oil, and an abrasive scrubbie. It worked!

making olive oil salt scrub in bowl
Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

The method is so simple.

  1. Mix together equal amounts of baking soda and cooking oil – for one small jar, a tablespoon of each will be plenty.
  2. Rub the mixture all over the sticky parts of the glass jar.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  4. Rub with an abrasive scrubbie (I used steel wool)
  5. Wash really well with soap and water
hands scrub salt onto glass jar
Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

My bottle came out glue-free and ready to use to store limoncello. I’m not sure why this method worked, but I don’t need to know why. I just need to know it’s a non-chemical way to remove label glue from glass bottles. Next time I have a sticker stuck to the glass on a picture frame, I’ll try this method. That price tag sticker glue is always difficult to remove.

sugar scrub to remove label with timer
Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

After getting my bottles ready, I went to bottle my limoncello and realized I didn’t have a funnel. I ran to the local grocery store, but the story didn't have one for sale. My plan is to hunt one down today and bottle the batch and have photos and instructions for that tomorrow on the blog.

Do you have a natural method for removing stubborn label glue from glass bottles?