The Brewing Shed

Sticky ends – how to remove bottle labels

Remove bottle label

Have you seen the price of empty beer and wine bottles? Crazy. We’ve bought bottles that come with free beer cheaper than some drink-less vessels available in specialist retailers. And with recycling a high priority, syphoning your booze into expensive blanks seems unnecessary. Just one snag… how do you remove those pesky labels?

Chances are your labels are made from paper, fixed with some kind of un-shiftable glue, in which case you need to start by submerging them in a bowl of hot, soapy water. If, however, your bottle is adorned with a new-fangled funky plastic label you should try to remove this while dry – nibble away at a corner to get a bit of leverage and it will either peel away easily or prove indestructible. If the latter, give up and buy some different booze. But the easy-peeler just requires the removal of any lingering glue (in which case, read on).

Once your paper labels have enjoyed a few minutes bathing, give them a nudge with a knife. The glue used will be either water based or oil based. Lucky label liberators will be blessed with water based sticky stuff, which becomes un-sticky after a good dose of H20, allowing the paper to peel away with little effort. Any remaining glue can be scrubbed off with a cloth.

If you’re less fortunate then you have an oil based adhesive and no amount of scrubbing in water will get the glass clean, so scrape away what paper you can before drying the bottles. Just as a water bath loosens water based glue, so an oil bath will do the trick with the oil based fixer. But a bowl of oil is a relatively costly solution, so instead soak a cloth with the cheapest oil to hand (usually sunflower or vegetable oil used for cooking) and throughly rub this into the label. After a while it should start to shift with, at first, a bit of knife scraping, and then a rigorous scrub with your oily cloth. A final clean with hot, soapy water will leave you with a gleaming glass bottle ready to be filled with your latest home brewed booze.

1 Comment

  • Instead of binning envelopes from your mail, please help charity!

    Please save your used postage stamps for the RNLI (ROYAL NATIONAL LIFEBOAT INSTITUTION). I save them for our local RNLI, and have been doing this for about 10 years. Please, save them off your letters, and pass them on. (they are sold on to stamp collectors, to raise funds) . All stamps are welcome, new and old, from anywhere in the world. Please send them to me at
    7 Speedwell,
    Devon TQ5 9MJ,
    Please include a note with your email address, if you would like me to confirm reciept. I am also listed, with other charities, at the website If you have a charity that collects used stamps, then do contact the site and they will list you too. 🙂

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