Some labels can be a pain to remove. I've tried soaking bottles in water with a little bit of dish soap but it doesn't really do much to break down the adhesive. What methods do you have for easily removing labels?

  • - Founders' bottles - good. Labels come right off in a hot soak. - bells' bottles - bad. dont even try.
    – Beefjeff
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 3:03
  • If you are fortunate enough to live in or pass through Wisconsin, New Glarus labels are also very easy to remove. After or during a hot soak they will fall right off.
    – Tony Adams
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:44

22 Answers 22


OxiClean. The stuff works wonders. Fill a bucket with a scoop of OxiClean and hot water and let the bottles soak for about an hour. Most labels will simply slide right off; some will even float right off the bottles to the surface. The ones that don't will be easy to remove with a rag or sponge.

You also generally never want to use dish soap or detergent on anything that will come in contact with your beer. Detergents often leave behind a residue or coating that can kill head retention.

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    OxyClean is also great for removing dried gunk from the inside of bottles if you forget to rinse them out right after drinking.
    – bengineerd
    Commented Nov 9, 2010 at 6:07
  • And if the OxyClean still leaves sticky residue, just get a sacrificial steel scrub pad from the dollar store (and yes, it will probably be unusable afterwards if you use the steel pad on a lot of bottles).
    – Room3
    Commented Nov 9, 2010 at 21:10
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    OxyClean is also known in brew stores as B-Brite. It is the same chemical sodium percarbonate. I use it for cleaning all non-steel items, works great on plastic hosing and glass. Soak it for a little while in the stuff and most labels come off pretty easily. Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 1:16
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    Seriously Just tried this. OMG saved so much time! Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 5:05
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    For the ones that don't come off easily with Oxi Clean, I throw them out and make a dumpster dive run to the local craft beer bar on the morning after a beer with easily removable labels was on special!
    – Dale
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 0:40

For removing your own labels that you apply to your bottles, use a label with a hot-soak water soluable adhesive. When you're ready to reuse your bottles, a soak in hot soapy water is all that's needed to slide the labels off.

Removing labels from store-bought beverage bottles can be hit or miss because each bottler can use different label materials and different adhesives. By random sampling I've found some labels slide off in hot water, some will peel off after applying solvent, and others just never let go of the glass.

I do have a cure-all that removes every label from every bottle: 500 degrees F in a ceramic kiln for about a hour will incinerate every organic compound in the label and adhesive. Some adhesives will etch the surface of the glass so a shadow may remain, but there's no label! Don't go much higher than 500F though or the bottle may start to soften and deform.

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    That's hardcore Commented Nov 9, 2010 at 22:57
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    I wouldn't buy a kiln just to remove bottle labels, but if you have a kiln anyway.... ;>
    – dthorpe
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 21:18
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    A trip to the kiln is also handy for getting rid of unknown bio gunk growing inside the bottle, esp the caked on stuff that the bottle brush can't quite scrub hard enough. After kiln cooldown, just rinse the ash out of the bottle! (I picked up a hoard of 22oz home brew bottles via Freecycle. They had been left outside for months and were really, really nasty. The kiln treatment burns away all sins. ;>
    – dthorpe
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 0:15
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    I've used hot-soak removable labels sold under the "4th and Vine" brand. For water to remove the label, the water has to be HOT and soapy. Cold water has no effect on the adhesive (the "ice bucket test"). I bought a pack of these labels at our local brewer supply, Seven Bridges Cooperative in Santa Cruz: breworganic.com/peelandstickprinterlabels48ct.aspx. Here's more info: midwestsupplies.com/wine-label-removing.html
    – dthorpe
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 6:01
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    "take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
    – Wyrmwood
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 0:51

I've tried a couple of solutions, but the one that works best for me is an overnight soak in a big tub of water with a half-gallon of ammonia. The labels just slide right off.

  • And inexpensive as well!
    – Carling
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 20:15
  • We didn't even need to let them sit over night except for the occasional super label. Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 5:14

I've used a big tub of water with some baking soda in it. I just tossed rinsed bottles in there as I accumulated them. Not sure how long it really took, since I didn't try and remove the labels for a while, but they came off really easily. As far as the amount of baking soda, maybe a teaspoon per 2 or 3 gallons? Not that much.


Getting the Labels Off

I'm only adding a little bit here. I only use OxyClean, like many others, but what I do is put the bottles standing up in a cooler, then fill them with hot tap water. Dump a bit of oxyclean in the cooler, and fill it with hot water.

It holds the temp for quite a long while, after a couple of hours the labels are floating off, or they come off with just a slight pull.

Sometimes there's a bit of label residue that hangs around on some bottles, that comes off with a quick scrub sponge.

Putting Labels on

When I did label my bottles, I used standard printer paper, cut it up with scissors, and then used some milk on a paint brush, just on the edges of the label, to get it to stick. You have to hold it there for about 3 seconds and then set it to the side to dry. Those labels come off extremely easy.

What I do now

These days I've become lazy, I just use the little Avery round labels and place them on the bottle caps after bottling. Much easier.


Commercial breweries use two main types of labels: Glue labels, and Sticker-type labels.

Glue labels are easy to remove by soaking in percarbonate based cleansers (OxyClean, Easy Clean, B-Brite, One Step, PBW, and others). You can also use water plus Ammonia, or just plain hot water. Some scraping may be required for complete removal. Glue labels are most often used by larger breweries because they can be applied at high speed, and the labels themselves are inexpensive.

Smaller Breweries tend to use Sticker-type lables because the labeling equipment is less expensive to purchase and maintain. Unfortunately for homebrewers, these labels are nearly impossible to get off without petroleum-based solvents (like WD-40, mineral spirits, etc) or citrus degreasers.

Try soaking the bottles, and if the label comes off, great. You're done. If there's a gummy residue left behind, try using a citrus-based degreaser.


Soak with bleach for 1+ hours in initially hot water. Then scrap them off with a butter-knife like whittling a log- works great.


get a pair of these gloves boil water in your brewpot and put in as many bottles as you can fit and boil them for a few minutes, put the gloves on and squeeze the bottles in one hand and spin them, the labels will come right off. You can get through 48 in no time.


I usually find soaking them in my sterilising solution does an excellent job.


Just soak in hot water most come off easily. Recycle the ones that dont.

  • I find myself still scraping them off Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 18:43
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    Yeah some do take a bit more work than others, depends in the brand and how much glue they use. I just recycled the tougher ones. I drink enough to spare those ones :P
    – CaveMan
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 18:46

Stainless Steel Scrubbers

These make quick work of a labels and adhesives.

Soaking the bottles does make it a lot easier, but these scrubbers work even without soaking.

Warm water with a little detergent (oxyclean) or even Dish soap if your doing a beer clean wash later.

Painted labels. Soak in starsan then use scrubber.

What makes these work so well, is it's like having a lot of razor blade edges on the bottle surface. So they cut the paper, foil, glue, paint right off.

They are easily degunked. Most pad scrubbers fill up with goo and you basically toss and get a new one. These are easily cleaned.

They don't scratch glass or stainless steel. Unlike some scrubbing pads that use abrasives.

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For an instant result without waiting, soak the label with white spirit on a cloth.

You can use it on just about any surface except some transparent plastics (e.g. CD cases) which would turn dull. In that event, use dry cleaning petroleum which only requires a bit more rubbing.

Both white spirit and dry cleaning petroleum will mostly evaporate at room temperature with some smell. Anyhow, I recommend removing any residual solvent with ordinary washing up liquid before using the container for food or drink storage.

Both solvents are sold much cheaper than those specifically marketed as label removing liquids.

  • Washing up liquid is probably not a good idea for homebrewing Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 12:33

My process involves soaking the bottles in a bucket of Napisan or similar for a day or so, then using a butter knife, whittle off the soggy labels.

For any remaining glue, grab a Magic Eraser and give them a scrub. The micro abrasion of the Magic Eraser works a treat.

This method allows me to de-label up to 100 bottles in under an hour.


If you can afford it, its really nice to buy new glass. If not, you can get some labels off easier than others. You might have to experiment to see which ones are the easiest to remove.

  • You know you're a homebrewer when how easy the labels come off is a factor in your beer selection :-) Seriously though, many of the 22oz bottles from smaller craft breweries use an adhesive that allows you to just peel the labels off, no soaking required. I think these are done on a portable bottling line.
    – steveax
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 4:19

For stubborn labels, try an organic solvent like acetone. It should remove most any common label and won't leave any residue. Rubbing alcohol may also work.

  • Acetone will turn many plastic surfaces (both transparent and none transparent) dull.
    – user3639
    Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 21:58

I like De-Solv-It. You can usually find it at Ace Hardware.

Just spray to saturate label or residue, wait 10-20 min, and it should rub right off. It's made of citrus oils and other organic ingredients so it should be safe. It smells like oranges and has a slightly greasy feel but that washes off easily with soap and water.

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    Careful there. "Organic" does not mean safe or harmless. Hemlock is all-natural, and can be labeled USDA organic if no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers were used in its production. Any acid in sufficient concentration can be lethal or burn your face off - including citric acid and acetic acid (vinegar). Citrus oil is available in many household cleaners nowadays, but it's also available in concentrated form for use as a low-VOC paint stripper. It takes skin and hair right off as easily as old paint.
    – dthorpe
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 6:18

Have you ever tried a heat gun? The heat softens the glue and it does get hotter than a blow dryer. They use them to remove labels in some factories. Just be careful not to singe and use something besides your hands to peel it off (maybe a putty knife)


Mineral Terpentine ("terps" substitute) is magic for those labels with really tough adhesive. Peel / scrape the label off as best you can. Then just a small amount on a rag works wonders. Rub on gently, then after a couple of seconds as the solvent action kicks in rub a bit harder. Then wash off well in soapy water.

I had several Epic empties. Some of their labels use insanely powerful adhesive. Soaking in hot water, stainless steel scourer, boiling in a pot, knife blade... all I was doing was pushing the adhesive around.

My girlfriend, seeing my mounting exasperation, calmly suggested I try using the mineral terpentine from her oil paint set. Took about a minute per bottle:

enter image description here enter image description hereenter image description here

Note that "Terpentinersatz" is German for "Terpentine Substitute" which is another name for mineral turpentine/white spirit. You can get it from any hardware or art supply store.


After trying everything I found on the internet and having terrible results, I found the thing that works the best, by far, is the scrape it off while dry with a sharp knife. Scrape until just about everything is gone. Then wet it a little and use one of those green scrub pads (or anything that wont scratch glass) to get the last little bit.

Warning, sharp knives are ... sharp, and therefore dangerous

One thing I did learn is that some chemical solvants can actually embed in the glass and cause your wine to go bad forever more. For example, an old trick used to be to put a coke in a can of gasoline overnight. The next day it would look fine, it would still have carbination, but it tasted terrible! And yes, this is a glass coke bottle, so why wouldn't it affect your wine/beer. Not to mention, when soaking, those chemicals are usually going into the inside of the bottle. Not good.


cotton wool and benzene. just remember that benzene is highly flammable, so be careful. I have a bottle of benzene in the house, in the caravan and at work. even clean whiteboard!

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    I hope you mean "benzine", a common solvent also known as "petroleum ether". Benzene with an "e" is a dangerous carcinogen. I wouldn't want to use it anywhere near beverage containers.
    – Simon
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 17:19

I didn't tried this on a beer bottle (i might tonight), but generally when i want to peel a sticker off, i just heat the sticker with a hair dryer. Then it just peels off.

EDIT: I tried this a few days ago, it did not work.


With a really sticky label I scraped off as much as I could and tried both ammonia and nail polish remover, not at the same time! My vote goes to the nail polish remover. it seemed to work more effectively. Dab it on and let it sit for a minute to dissolve the adhesive. It's a elbow grease project in any case.

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