The Best Way to Remove Labels from Glass Jars

A side-by-side test of three different methods for removing labels from jars – all cheap and all easy! 

Have you ever had a cute jar or a jar that you just liked for some reason and instead of putting it in the recycling bin you decide to save it for something crafty?

If you’ve done that but then wondered how to remove the label completely, like NO MORE LABEL, I have some great tips for you that will have you reusing that bright and shiny label-free jar in no time flat!

collage of glass jars and how to remove label glue from jars

How To Completely Remove Labels From Glass Jars

In this post, I’m sharing a super-easy tutorial that details 3 different ways to remove the labels and all the icky glue residue so you can have a virtual garden of jars on hand for all your decor and crafting needs or even organizing.  

I like to use my recycled jars as vases, to hold office supplies, to organize small items, like cupcake wrappers and more.  The possibilities are endless!

After Christmas this year my husband, unfortunately, had a long stay in the hospital, and I was preoccupied with that and a lot of other “life stuff” so asked my oldest son to do the grocery shopping.  One of the things he bought were three jars of holiday cookies.  They were on clearance so he couldn’t pass them up (I raised him right!).

Nicely shaped glass jars - my test subjects for the best and easiest way to completely remove sticky labels from jars.

After the jars were empty I decided to keep them and try a little experiment and tried three different ways to remove the labels and here’s what worked….and what didn’t.

Three Methods for Removing Labels from Jars and the Very Interesting Results

The best way to completely remove labels from glass jars - step one - the big soak.

Step One:  Fill a sink with warm water and add enough dish soap to make some good bubbles.

Add jar with label to water - The Best Way to Completely Remove Labels from Jars

Step Two: Add the jars you want to remove the labels from to the warm, soapy water.

Completely submerge jars in water and begin soaking.

Step Three:  Completely submerge the jars.  I went a little wild with the water and bubbles – I was distracted and came back just in time to turn off the water.  Does this ever happen to you?

The Best Way to Completely Remove Labels from Jars - the big soak. Allow the jars to soak in the warm and soapy water for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step Four:  Allow the jars to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove jar from water - the best way to completely remove labels from glass jars

The label, at this point, should come off easily leaving a residue of glue.

Step Five:  Remove the jar from the water.  Starting with a corner remove the paper portion of the label.  This will leave behind a gluey residue.

Rinse jar before moving on to the next step.

I rinsed my jars but I don’t think this step is necessary since you’ll be washing them after the label is completely removed.

Test subjects all lined up.

My test subjects are now ready!

Three different methods for removing labels from glass jars - which one does the best job?

Oil vs. Goo Gone vs. Totally Awesome for Label Glue Removal

For my test, I chose regular vegetable oil, Totally® Awesome from the Dollar Tree and Goo Gone.

How effective is Goo Gone in removing labels and residual glue from glass jars?

I squirted the first jar generously with the Goo Gone.

Totally Awesome to remove labels. Does it work?  For the second jar, I poured Totally Awesome directly on to the residual glue.

Vegetable oil to remove glue from paper labels.

And the third jar was slathered with pure vegetable oil.

Removing glue from glass jars

I waited 10 minutes and then began to remove the glue from my jars.  I normally use a sponge with a scrubber side to do this but that tends to be messy so this time I used  Scotch-Brite┬« Scrubbing Dish Cloths – the textured side.  This worked so much better. 

When needed, I rinsed the cloth so there was no glue build-up.

If you’ve never heard of the scrubbing dishcloths you can check out my post about how I use them to Wash Walls in 5 Easy Steps – I find myself using them for a lot of my cleaning now and I especially like that they can be machine washed and reused over and over again.

After I did the above steps with all three of my jars I washed them again in a soapy water solution and rinsed them well.

The Results – Which Product Worked Best?

Now, for the results.

The Best Way to Completely Remove Labels and the Sticky Glue Residue from Jars - Results - Goo Gone

The Goo Gone was the clear winner – clear….get it? It left absolutely NO residue and hands down did the best job.

Does vegetable oil remove label glue from jars?

Second place went to the vegetable oil.  There was still some residual glue left but not much and when I washed the jar almost all of the remaining glue came off.

The loser was the Totally Awesome.  It’s hard to see in this photo but it really didn’t do a very good job of removing the glue and I would NOT recommend it.

The best way to totally remove label glue from glass jars.

Here’s a close up of the Goo Gone treated jar.

*Note:  I did wash it in soapy water after removing the glue as I did all of the jars above.

The best way to completely remove labels from jars. I tried three different methods. Find out which one worked best and completely remove the leftover label glue.

Will This Work on Bottles?

Yes, it will!

I’ve tried this on just about every jar and glass bottle I can get my hands on. I’ve used this method to remove labels from Starbucks bottles (I love the shape of those), to remove labels from empty wine bottles, and even to remove labels from beer bottles. 

Do you have a favorite method that I didn’t try above? I would love to hear about.