D.I.Y. Fridays – Upcycling Tip: Removing Labels from Jars for Reuse

by Nicole Wines

This week’s D.I.Y. Friday is just a quick tip for all of you who are conscious about reusing and repurposing materials, supplies and resources.

There are countless uses for upcycled jars.  I use them to store and share honey, herbs, and bulk foods, to make and store tinctures, in place of tupperware for soups and stews, as a container for homemade powdered laundry detergent, to brew sun teas and herbal infusions, as containers for D.I.Y. gifts like homemade granola and incense, for crafting and organizing.  There are so many ways to use them that there are whole blog posts and articles written about what do to with upcycled jars (check out the links at the end for inspiration and ideas).  The only problem with reusing old jars are those pesky labels.

It is simple to get a batch of jars cleaned off and ready to reuse.  There is no need to use harsh chemicals to remove the labels and the glue residue they leave behind, making it more appealing to reuse or upcycle old jars.  I picked up this neat trick from a blog posting at creekhouse.com and was very happy with the results.

1. Soak your jars in hot, soapy water for a few minutes.

2. Peel and/or scrape as much of the labels off as you can.  For some jars, this will do it, for most others, you’ll need to work just a little bit harder.

3. Make a paste of equal parts olive oil (or any kitchen oil) and baking soda.

4. Rub the paste onto jars and let sit for ten minutes.

5. Scrub the remaining glue and residue with the paste.  On some jars, removing the residue is a little tougher.  On those jars, use a kitchen scrubber.

Clean jars, labels removed and ready to be reused!

Clean jars, labels removed and ready to be reused!

UPDATE: A reader sent in the following suggestions:

  • “For any glue you can’t get off with these methods, you can use lemon essential oil.