This works wonders for removing labels without ever scrubbing bottles! Thank you science for improving life once again. Removes labels like a champ, and gets rid of mold too.
You will need:
- 1 cooler that you don't use for anything else. Think Goodwill or search your garage/shed for whatever size plastic cooler you can find.
- 1 bottle Ammonia.
- Dish Soap (dial and 7th generation work best) [NO BLEACH PRODUCTS]
- Rubber kitchen gloves (the kind with the textured palm)
- mask and goggles (i think i have to list these, but i don't use them)
What you do:
Don the gloves for every single thing you do in this process. Goggles and a mask are advisable if you are the accident prone type. Ammonia reeks. I use the lemon-scented variety, but it still smells like ammonia and lemons.
Dump the ammonia into the now-single-purpose cooler. Fill the now empty ammonia container 4 times with water (that's a good ratio) and add it to the cooler.
Add some liquid dish soap. Eyeball this based on the cooler size. Add the amount you would use to soak dirty pans in that cooler.
Stir. You now have what science calls "sudsy ammonia" for about 1/5th of the price that you can buy a pre-made bottle of it for.
Fill your cooler with bottles, submerging them entirely. As many as can go, as long as your label is submerged.
Let is sit for an afternoon. Don the gloves again. Keep your head away from the cooler as you open it and remove bottles. This stuff stinks, but the stink doesn't stick to the bottle. Attempt to wipe the label off. Some brands - Magic Hat, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium - come off with such ease you will be amazed. The glue residue wipes off with another pass or two of the textured palm. Some brands - Real Ale, most european brews - may take a day or two, or sometimes even a week or two. Some won't come off at all (certain overpriced german brews come to mind here), so drop them in your city recycling bin.
From what I can tell you have about a month before the soap and ammonia start to denature in the cooler and lose their effect. But at $1.12 for a bottle of ammonia and what amounts to $0.08 of soap, you will save money within the first 2 weeks. I have now done this with 3 cases worth of bottles from 6 different brands and I have had been extremely pleased. Not even a hint of label glue is left and some very old mold has been cleaned out.
Rinse the bottles well, dry them, and they are ready to store indefinitely in a dry place. Then post a comment thanking me for this awesome tip. ;-)
***Please keep in mind that even though ammonia is sold at your local grocer, it is not exactly the safest thing in the world. Always wear the gloves. NEVER let it come in contact with bleach, or even the faintest amount of bleach residue. If that bottle has the fancy foil crap on the neck, recycle that bad boy. Nothing reactive needs to go into this mix. I'm not trying to scare you, so think of this like the warning on StarSan - it's there cause someone hurt themselves once. But they were probably doing something stupid.***