Library Blog

Removing Labels from Glass Jars

jar on stove oven mittens
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After polishing off some applesauce, you’re left with the nice glass mason jars.  I like to reuse the jars, but I hate having to look at those old labels.  You pick at them, you scrub them, you throw them in a hot dishwasher, and nothing gets rid of them.  Or worse, the label comes off, leaving an icky gluey mess on the bottle. 

That adhesive is extremely strong, giving them incredible staying power. Isn’t there an easy way to remove these stickers? 

The least labor-intensive method that I have found for removing labels is to boil them off.  The boiling water will soften the label and the glue, making it much easier for you to scrape the labels off. 

Here’s how to remove those old sticky labels: 

1. Select a pot large enough to contain the jar or bottles.
Fill the pot half-way with water (or with at least enough water to submerge the stickers).  

2. Place your jars in the pot, making sure the stickers are entirely in the water.  You may also need to add some water inside the jars so they sink.  (Caution: be sure to add room temperature jars to room temperature water.  Placing room temperature jars in boiling water may cause them to break.)

3. Place the pot on the stove and turn the burner on medium-high. 

4. Add a squirt of liquid dish detergent and a shake of baking soda to the water.  

5. Let the jars simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

6. Using oven mitts to hold the jar, scrape off the sticker with tongs or a spatula or something similar.

7. It may take a couple of tries; if not everything scrapes off the first time, put it back in the hot water for a bit and then scrape some more. 

8. Finally, if there is any sticky residue left on the jar, scrub it with baking soda and a stiff sponge. 

9. Wash the jars with soap and water. 

Did you ask yourself “What is the point of doing all this work on a jar?”  

There are two huge benefits: first, the jars are pretty and of good quality, which make them a joy to use again and again.  And second, reusing the jargood for the earth!

There are many benefits to reusing and recycling.  According to the EPA, it: 

  • Prevents pollution caused by harvesting new raw materials 
  • Saves energy 
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming 
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations 
  • Saves money 
  • Reduces the amount of waste to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators 
  • Allows products to be used to their fullest extent

Making an effort to reduce your environmental impact is good for the earth and for you!  It’s important for everyone to do their part to reuse, reduce and recycle, to keep as much as possible out of the landfills and keep the earth healthy. 

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of reusing, reducing, and recycling, check out our collection of related books and ebooks here. 

If you would like to find more uses for glass mason jars, check out our assortment of craft and upcycling books here. 


Kelly is a librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. As the Adult Programming Specialist, her focus is bringing adults the library programs they love.  (Kids can’t have ALL the fun!).  She reads strictly nonfiction and picture books.  She believes that anything you could ever need or want is located somewhere in the library.  Including friends.