How to: Removing Labels and Glue from Recycled Jars

Spread the love
  • 3
  • 1

Pretty jars make any kitchen look beautiful! But before you can put all that hard work into decoration, etching or decoupaging your jars to make them pretty, you first have to go through all the hard work of preparing the jars: cleaning them out and removing labels and glue to give you a lovely clean surface to work with.

I’ve become a bit of a jar hoarder of late which is becoming an issue with nothing to put in them and nowhere to put them… I just really begrudge throwing away good glass…. I really need to get more jar projects into my repertoire to clear the stash! Until then if you also have a surplus of jars consider the following:

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft


These are the Jars I’m Recycling:

  • my favourite yankee candles. They come in such lovely shaped jars and they smell amazing! I was waiting until I had 3 before emptying them out, but as my jars are piling up I think it’s best I clear the stash a little….
  • A leftover pesto jar
  • A mini jam jar from a local food fayre




Method for Removing Labels:

Empty Your Jar

If it’s had food in just give it a quick wash. If it was a candle jar it takes a little more work but what I like to do is heat up some water and sit the jar in the water until the wax loosens up a bit, tip out the wax (great for use in your oil burners!) and while the jar is still warm, wipe it out with some kitchen roll to get the excess wax out.

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft
Getting the wax out can be messy….

Removing Labels

The next step is removing labels, ie. getting all that nasty paper off. Some jars don’t have too much glue on and the paper will come off fairly easy, but of course today my jars were being very stubborn.

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft
Very stubborn paper

You want to get as much paper off as you can before we start tackling the glue and the best way I’ve found for this is to score through the paper with a knife and soak the jar in hot water to loosen up the label. Once soaked you can use a blunt implement or a fingernail to scratch the surface, removing as much of the label and glue as we can.

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft
After soaking and scraping paper


Tackling Glue

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft


Now once I was at this point I tried a few different things to get the glue off:

  • Hot soapy water
  • Boiling the jars in water
  • Putting the jar in a hot dishwasher






Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft
Sticky removal supplies!


None of these methods had much effect on the glue, it seemed pretty hopeless. Until I had a brainwave! Nail varnish remover! Simple and very effective!  Depending on how much glue you have to clear you should soak a cotton pad with nail varnish remover and rub it firmly over the surface. If you have very stubborn glue this may take a couple of tries and a lot of elbow grease but the glue will come off! The barcodes on the bottom of the yankee jars was immensely stubborn. If you have particularly sticky and thick glue you can boil it for a bit to soften it, scrape as much off as you can and then nail varnish remover it. It took some time and a lot of effort but the glue finally came off!










Clean Jar

Once you have removed all the glue you’ll need to wash your jar again to remove any traces of the nail varnish remover especially if you plan on using it for food.

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft
Lots of elbow grease required!

This method of sticky removal can be used for many stubborn things on glass such as sellotape or pva that may occur during DIY disasters… I may or may not have had to use this method to remove pesky mod podge already….

Preparing Jars for Crafts: how to removes labels and sticky glue from jars for craft
Shiny Jars!

So that is my quick tip for the day! I hope someone finds it useful and that it helps you on your glass jar hoarding adventure! Share with me your jar crafts in the comments! Or follow my Pinterest board below for some inspiration:



I’ve taken Part in the Really Craft and waste not wednesday link parties so head on over and take a look at the lovely makes!




  1. Gina Ritchie says:

    I have fought this battle before. Usually with enough hot water, soil and arm power I have triumphed. This sounds a lot easier.

    1. t takes a bit of muscle doesn’t it? The nail varnish remover does ease it a bit, but the barcodes were particularly stubborn… without the nail varnish remover I think I would have given up!

  2. Lauren says:

    Great tips! I love reusing glass jars for leftover sauces and what not. I’ll have to try some of these for next time! THere’s nothing I hate more than grabbing an empty jar and getting sticky stuff all over my hands!!

    1. I’m glad I could help! Sticky jars are the worst aren’t they? I hate it when you think you’ve cleaned it all off and when you go to grab it later it’s all sticky still….

  3. Robert says:

    This looks like a great project. I got loads of jars myself. I will eventually toss them out for recycling, but it is always a good idea to recycle them around my house if I can.

    1. Yes, I’m a bit of a jar hoarder myself, I need to find more things to use them for!

  4. This is super helpful! I love upcycling my used candles but sometimes the leftover glue and candle wax/wick can be so stubborn to remove. Thanks for the tips!

    1. I’m so glad I could help! Glue and wax can be super stubborn, I hope my tips are useful in the future!

  5. Teresa says:

    Thank you for the tips. I hate to discard perfectly good jars but sometimes they just look so ugly when I try to remove the labels…Trying your method next time. Thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!

    1. I’m very much the same, I really hate throwing out good jars… I hope my tip helps you rescue more jars <3

  6. Thelma. says:

    Cooking oil is great for removing stubborn glue

    1. That’s a great tip! I’ve used baby oil to remove stubborn sticky from dressings before so cooking oil makes a lot of sense!

  7. Gerda Hedwig Preisser says:

    You can buy a remover at the supermarkets called ” PLANET ARK Orange Power,”
    a little orange bottle.
    is not expensive but easy to use.

    1. Great tip! I’ve found lots of different solutions since writing this post, perhaps an update is needed 😊

  8. Wilda says:

    If you have access to lighter fluid (I use Ronsonol which I keep on hand to remove gum from kids’ hair or black marks from linoleum) you can “saturate” the label with it and it softens the glue. Once you peel the label, use a paper towel with a little elbow grease and more lighter fluid and it should all come off relatively easily.

    1. I’ve never heard of this before! I’ll have to try it 😁

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.