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Old 03-03-2008, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default Removing Commercial Beer Labels

Once upon a time, I was trying to get the labels off some Dark Horse Brewery bottles so I could reuse them. I painstakingly scratched the labels off with a credit card. Then, after half an hour, steel wool, Brillo, detergent, and acetone, nothing worked to remove the adhesive goo where the label had been. I told SWMBO to get a different solvent. She came up with vegetable oil. I laughed at her.

So, long story short, if you want to get the label goo off a commercial beer bottle and nothing else is working, you might try this method. Soak it in warm water to weaken the paper and then peel off as much as you can. Then use a paper towel to apply cheap vegetable oil to all the goo that is left over. You will know if it is working because the goo is gone. The oil dissolves the adhesive immediately. The paper towel wipes it off effortlessly. It only works if you wet, weaken, and tear off the top layer of the paper (which is not that hard). The oil will only dissolve the adhesive it can actually get to. If there is a thin layer of paper, a little rubbing with a paper towel might get the oil to soak through the paper (if it is thin and weak enough) and it will come off easily.

If the bottle feels oily afterward, a grease-cutting dish detergent will remove the oil as fast as the oil removed the goo. Then I clean the inside of the bottles just in case anything made it in. I have to clean the inside anyway so it works out nicely. Using this method I can pour myself a glass of Sam Adams, and have the bottle cleaned, delabeled, and ready for sanitization before the head is gone. No overnight soaking, no expensive cleaning solutions, no nothing.

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Old 03-03-2008, 06:53 PM   #2
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I have heard that if you put a little milk in with the water and soak the bottles for a little bit they peel off effortlessly, leaving no goo. I haven't tried this but a guy at my LHBS let me in on the "secret"

-Matt

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Old 03-03-2008, 06:53 PM   #3
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Have you tried oxyclean and hot water? Bottles come clean in anywhere between 1 and 48 hours depending on the toughest glue. The labels just float to the surface. Goo remnents rinse right off.

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Old 03-03-2008, 06:55 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tip! I normally soak my bottles in hot water and oxy-clean and most labels float right off. But every once in a while there's a bottle or two with some sticky glue on it that won't come off. I'll be sure to try this when that happens.

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Old 03-03-2008, 06:57 PM   #5
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I used to soak in Oxyclean and then scrub briefly with a Chore Boy. The abrasiveness usually removed the leftover glue pretty easily...

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Old 03-03-2008, 10:23 PM   #6
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+1 to oxyclean, but Star San is also good at removing labels, especially the newer clear ones. and it can remove painted on labels too I have heard.

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Old 03-04-2008, 12:48 AM   #7
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I will try this on a couple White Yeast tubes I kept, and a stubborn Sierra Nevada bottle that will not beat me.

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Old 03-04-2008, 01:15 AM   #8
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Another alternative is a quick soak in warm water and ammonia. The labels and glue come off very quickly and easily.

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Old 03-04-2008, 01:40 AM   #9
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I have found that throwing the bottles REALLY hard at a brick wall gets the labels off super quick!

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Old 03-07-2008, 03:11 PM   #10
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Just cleaned all the goo off our wooden dining room table with cheap vegetable oil. SWMBO is really impressed with it. One less thing to use chemicals for! It does even better on wood because it soaks in and buffs out nicely and you don't have to worry about rinsing it off.

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