View Full Version : Removing labels from bottles...

07-09-2004, 12:29 AM
I've just spent most of my evening at the task of scrubbing labels off of wine bottles and I remember someone asking what the best way to go about it was.

Heat. You can soak them for days in cold water and it won't be as effective as a minute or so in hot water. Depending on the type of glue, a lot of labels will peal off with no effort at all. Others you might have to fight with but the hotter you keep the water the easier they will be.

That being said, there are some types of glue that, no matter how hot the water is, will stay behind and gum up after you have struggled to scrub off the label. These ones are hardly worth the trouble, but if you've got this far with them, you'll probably need some kind of solvent to get the glue off. A little bit of lighter fluid works well.

07-09-2004, 06:49 AM
I usually soak my bottles in Beer Brite (contact sanitizer). Cleans labels *right* off the bottle and leaves no residue. It has worked well for me.

07-15-2004, 03:39 PM
Acetone usually works well on those really stubborn ones, and WD-40 works well on the really gummy types.


08-29-2004, 06:37 PM
i had one bottle last week that just would not come clean. even after soaking in pinesole over night. Then on my way out threw the back room I saw a can of break cleaner sitting on the shelf. alittle shot of that and a wipre from a shop rag and it was gone like it was never there. If I had remembered this thread sooner I would ahve tired it alot sooner and with out all the scrubbing and rubbing. the stuff works great

08-29-2004, 07:58 PM
you sure you want to use that bottle for something you are going to drink after cleaning it with break cleaner and pinesole?

08-29-2004, 11:51 PM
Not a problem. that bottle is a flip top. I filled it with hot water and closed it before I started. that way wit would stand in the bucket with the pinesol solution in it with out flooting. Pinesol never got in teh bottle since the water level was never much above the middle if teh bottle. just over the lable. also. I didn't soak the bottle in brake cleaner. just sprayed a little on the outside and wiped it right off. then went and washed the bottle in hot water. I have problem with using that bottle since it will be cleaned again before it is filled with anything. I have another bottle just like this one and on that one, the lable came right off after letting it soak for a while and then peeling the plastic layer off the lable and then letting is soak for a while more. this one had some kind or ruber glue that just wouldnt' come off.

04-14-2005, 02:14 AM
Oxyclean work's wonders. Way cheaper than B-Brite. Does a good job cleaning carboys too. ;D

04-14-2005, 04:49 AM
PBW rocks all over the labels too! It's also good for whatever caked on scum may be left in the carboys or cornys too.

04-14-2005, 12:23 PM
I just went through this a few weeks ago when I bottled my meads. Most were fine, but I had one or two that were absolute terrors to remove, even after soaking in boiling water. I found that placing dish soap right on the bottle, rubbing it till it was thick and foamy and then scrubbing with a metal scouring pad worked really well!

04-15-2005, 09:04 AM
I forgot about PBW, I love that stuff, cleans everything. I like using to clean my tap system. :)

01-06-2006, 07:47 PM
What is PBW?

01-06-2006, 08:23 PM
I put my bottles in the dishwasher with detergent just like washing dishes. 95% of the labels come right off and then you just have to clean them off the drain. Also don't use the heat element on your dishwasher! Open your dishwasher right after the wash is done then the labels that didn't wash off will just slide right off the remaining bottles. I've tried it without the detergent and it didn't work. The dishwasher detergent must break down the label glue.

01-06-2006, 08:27 PM
PBW is a brand name cleanser that is not caustic and is biodegradable. Generally 2 oz of PBW powder is mixed with 2-5gal of warm water. It will soak off caked on residues off of most of your bottles and equipment. Rinse this cleaner off very well with warm water.

01-06-2006, 09:09 PM
Into my utility tub, I place 2-3c of dishwashing power, a 1/4 c of Oxyclean, and hot water (tap). In that I place 2 cases of 750ml and let soak overnight. Next morning, all of the water soluble labels fall off, the hot glue ones come off by scraping with a piece of steel. In the other side of the tub, I blast the insides of the bottles with a brass jet washer (min 3x with hot water), leave bottles inverted to dry (old milk crates work well).


PS The bottles that don't come clean (and it's not many), I toss, have also standardized on the bordeaux style as well, as they stack better on their sides...

01-06-2006, 10:14 PM
I've used the dishwasher several times, and have the brass attachment for bottle washing to the kitchen sink. However after I pack my mobile dishwasher with bottles and run the full cycle w/ soap, some of the bottles lables come off like you say and pieces end up inside the bottles. I then have to spray out *if i find it* the bottle again before filling. How harmful would you say a little paper is in your beer?

01-06-2006, 11:28 PM
I just soak in the slop sink with oxyclean with the hottest I can get the tap water. Let them sit there for a couple hours minimum, overnight is even better, and most of the labels just fall off. I have a plastic scraper and a soft plastic brush that gets any stubborn labels or remainining adhesive off. I do have a jet bottle washer to clean the insides and I make sure to rinse them very very well. It's not necessarily hard work but it is time consuming.


01-07-2006, 01:17 AM
Eucalyptus oil does the trick as well, for those ones with stubborn glue, and has the added bonus of clearing your nasal passages right up!


01-07-2006, 04:22 PM
The problem with Oxyclean is that after extended soaking it leaves a coarse residue on whatever is soaking in it. Then, you're faced with removing that residue as well.

I've stopped using Oxyclean for this reason, especially with corny kegs.



01-08-2006, 06:20 PM
I'll have to try PBW now that I have a jar of it. I routinely get bottles from a restaurant and one specific one is VERY hard to get off. I've been reluctantly tossing those.

01-09-2006, 11:50 AM
Last time I soaked all of the bottles overnight in a generic amonia cleaner solution in water (don't remember the name but it's one they have at the grocery store). I also only filled the water up to the curves in the bottle so I didn't have to deal with worrying about amonia taste in anything. Most of the labels fell off into the bucket during the soaking. The few tough ones peeled off fairly easily and I had to scrub the remaining adhesive off with a scouring pad (steel wool). I had one label that behaved like it was forged as a part of the bottle where I ended up having to scrap the bottle.

01-09-2006, 01:47 PM
I'm always confused as to why people just don't use varsol or lighter fluid for non-water-soluble glue (which most people have around the house to remove price tags anyway). The glue comes off, and the varsol washes off completely.

Then again, I always wash my bottles at least twice; once to remove the label, and once more to remove any traces of gum.

I've never had a problem with wine, so I'm not sure why it would be a problem with mead.

By the way: if you make your own labels, the Avery white stick-on labels are easy to remove - the glue is water-soluble.

01-09-2006, 02:08 PM
I'm always confused as to why people just don't use varsol or lighter fluid for non-water-soluble glue (which most people have around the house to remove price tags anyway). The glue comes off, and the varsol washes off completely.

Ummm, it's flammable?


01-09-2006, 04:35 PM
Ummm, it's flammable?



You remove labels with a flamethrower?

With a grin,

01-09-2006, 05:37 PM
Now that's an interesting concept :D

I have a friend with a home-made flame thrower, it's quite effective... not sure how the bottles would survive though ;D


01-10-2006, 05:21 PM
Soaking the bottles in hot water and ammonia has always worked for me.

01-14-2006, 03:45 AM
I haven't found any bottles yet that I've had a problem with. I normally soak them for a week in water and the labels normally fall off after that.

With the flamethrower, the glass might crack due to temperature shock. I wouldn't want to try a sparkling mead in them. Ypu might also then have cabonised glue stuck to the glass.

01-14-2006, 09:44 AM
With the flamethrower, the glass might crack due to temperature shock. I wouldn't want to try a sparkling mead in them. Ypu might also then have cabonised glue stuck to the glass.

It was a joke! ;) It was a reference to flammable material used to remove bottle glue. Have you ever tried melting a bottle in a campfire? It works, but when they cool down they crack...


01-14-2006, 09:59 AM
Just a thought but perhaps we could say what bottles we get, that have a tasty content, and an easy to remove label.

I use Crown Lager bottles for beer, along with any others I can get, I find beer bottles seem to have labels stuck on good and fast. At least Crown and Stella artois. Crown have a good brown bottle apposed to the green Stella artois.

I have some wine bottles but I cant recall the brands. I found wine bottles labels easy to remove compared the beer ones. :-\


01-15-2006, 08:26 AM
Has anyone tried Goo Gone? I haven't used it to take labels off of bottles, but I know that it'll take tar out of carpet. ;)

01-15-2006, 08:58 AM
Goo Gone Works pretty well if you wet the label down with it and wait 5-10 minutes