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Old 10-22-2013, 08:26 PM   #251
MaxStout's Avatar
Mar 2013
Blaine, MN
Posts: 4,174
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Originally Posted by neild5 View Post
Bells bottles need a quick soak in hot water. Two Brothers bottles go directly in to the recycle bin. They use a laminated label that takes adhiesive remover to clean the glass. After taking a tour of their brewery I understand why, they label the bottles first then sanitize and fill. The paper labels must be glued on after the bottles are filled.
The Two Brothers labels are vinyl, and are more like bumper stickers. No soaking in water is going to budge them. However, if you warm up the bottle (run some hot water over it), the label is soft and easy to remove. Grab it by the corner and it peels straight off without leaving residue. I've done a bunch of them that way and never a problem.

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Old 10-22-2013, 11:29 PM   #252
Oct 2013
Posts: 3

I am going to use Smirnoff bottles for my cider. Don't know if you get them in the States? These bottles are clear glass with a mostly clear plastic label. If they are anything like the other bottles mentioned on a previous posting in this thread (with plastic labels) they are easy to strip. Just use a heat gun on low or a hair dryer on high to warm up the glue under the label. With the clear labels you can see the glue start to bubble. The label peals off easily once heated. Be careful not to over heat. Glue residue left behind can easily be wiped of with olive oil and a paper towel.

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Old 11-06-2013, 06:45 PM   #253
Oct 2011
Portland, OR
Posts: 42
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I normally soak bottles in a used PBW solution in a 5 gallon bucket at room temp. I recently put some Deschutes (Bend, OR) bottles and an Elysian (Seattle) bottle in at the same time. The Deschutes labels fell right off while the Elysian label was like new.

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Old 11-13-2013, 05:33 PM   #254
Sep 2013
Posts: 34

Been playing around with different label removing techniques for the last year. Easiest I've found is Easy Clean from LD Carlson. Haven't found a label yet it won't budge. Some, like German labels, come right off. Toughest for me is Great Lakes Breweries labels. A half to full day soak and they wipe right off.

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Old 11-16-2013, 10:54 PM   #255
youngpretender13's Avatar
Nov 2013
Posts: 59
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Oxyclean works like a charm for me. I've also heard that using ammonia works well but I personally cant stand the smell of it and would not want it anywhere near my brewing equipment.

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Old 11-16-2013, 11:03 PM   #256
May 2013
Edmonton, Alberta
Posts: 1,722
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I just use bleach solution (warm water) for that first clean. After a couple hours marinating, labels slide right off. Works perfectly, kills all the nasty stuff, and couldn't be cheaper. Why spend more?

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Old 11-24-2013, 01:56 AM   #257
muddy_dog's Avatar
May 2012
Manchester, NH
Posts: 7

To remove commercial labels I take all my empties and soak them in a plastic tub full of PBW and hot water mixed 1oz PBW - 1 or 2 gallons water. Let them sit in the solution for a while and the labels fall right off, plus you end up cleaning the inside of the bottle (great for bottles that have some dried beer in the bottom). I then go over the bottle with a soapy sponge to remove any remaining glue residue, rinse inside and out, dry.

I found Sierra Nevada labels very difficult to remove, but this solution takes them off with ease.

When I apply my labels to my beers I dip a paper towel in some milk and lightly coat the back of my label then press on to the bottle. The milk dries and sticks the label to the bottle, and clean up is easy. Just rinse under water and label comes right off!

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Old 12-20-2013, 08:04 AM   #258
Jul 2012
Boston, MA
Posts: 82
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What methods flopped?
I started brewing by soaking empties in a sink full of hot water, this worked but the water cooled too quickly. I then tried filling a bathtub full of hot water and running the shower on hot also, this worked better but wasted a lot of water. I tried using a product called Goo Gone which works really well for anything less than a 6-pack, but is hard to wash completely off. I have learned a trick to Goo Gone though.

What methods worked best for you?
I think the most effective method I have found is to soak bottles in a warm-hot PBW solution and let them sit until the solution cools. I then use some sort of 'scraper', be it a straight razor, paint scraper or even a butter knife; Something metal with a fairly sharp edge on it. Very lightly I scrape on the glass where the glue/label is and most of it comes off with little effort. Make sure there is some fine mesh screen in the drain, you don't want label confetti to get into your drain.

Goo Gone Trick?
I use the Goo Gone trick to finish stubborn bottles where the label comes off, but there is glue residue. When there is no paper left all you need is 1 drop of Goo Gone. Massage this drop into the glue residue with your fingers. The glue will start to ball up and fall off. When the Goo Gone seems to stop working rinse under warm water with some dish soap. If you still feel rough glue spots use 1 more drop Goo Gone on your finger and start massaging the bottle again. Rinse, repeat. When I use Goo Gone I try to avoid letting it get near the neck of the bottle.

What commercial bottles are the easiest/hardest to clean?
Easiest Bottles are hard to remember... Sam Adams aren't too difficult, although I know I have come across bottles easier than Sam, where the labels willingly fling themselves off the bottle and into a neat stack by the drain; I just cant remember which. Sierra Nevada comes to mind, I think those labels were fairly easy to remove. The only thing I don't like about Sam Adams for home brew is the signature scibbled across the neck.
By far the hardest labels I have tried to remove come from either 'Organic' or 'Gluten Free' beers. You know those earthy/crunchy beers that use 100% recycled materials, are gluten free, or are vehemently 'organic'. For some reason these beers seem to use industrial strength adhesive on their labels. They require the most work to get off IMHO.

How do you prefer to adhere your homebrew labels?
Laser Printer, Whole Milk, Paintbrush
  • Color Laser Printer: You need to use a commercial laser printer instead of a home-based inkjet because laser printer ink is water resistant. Inkjet printed images will run from condensation even. Laser printed images are colorfast in water. Go to Fedex or any print shop and request full color LaserJet print (on glossy paper for quality).
    • Design a rectangle/oval label for a single bottle in Photoshop or Gimp.
    • Print a single test page on your home printer, cut out and apply to test bottle to make sure you like the layout.
    • If you like the design on the test bottle, tile the design and take the file to Fedex. Be sure to plan for the amount of tiled pages you need to print, I like to make extras. Assume 8 labels per page, 5 gallon batch means 56 labels. 56/8 is 7 sheets. I would print at least 1 extra sheet, so ask Fedex to print 8 sheets of 8 labels (64 labels to account for errors) on Color Laserjet.
    • Use 'print to scale' and 8.5"x11" to ensure a scale print and tile your label to get the most prints per sheet. Consider filling in empty space with either a back label or a neck label. (Make sure to account for curvature on the neck).
      • Take printed labels home, line up all the sheets, clamp together and cut out each individual label.
  • Whole Milk: Whole milk has a higher percentage of fats or proteins that have better adhesive properties than 1% or skim. You need these proteins to provide the 'glue'. Go with whole. Please note that this is NOT water-safe.
    • Fill a shallow saucer with whole milk, coat each cut out label in the milk and apply to a clean and filled bottle. Hold label steady for 4-5 seconds. Label shouldn't move due to surface tension or capillary action. Once dry the proteins act as a glue.
  • Paintbrush: Used to spread the milk on the label and bottle. Bristles apply even pressure to ensure a thin coat of milk between the label and the bottle.

The nice thing about these labels is that they will rinse right off in warm water and leave no residue. This allows you to reuse already cleaned bottles. There are negatives however. Although these labels will stay put in warmer temperatures for bottle conditioning and colder temps like refrigeration, you should expect the labels to saturate and start falling off if you throw them in a cooler full of ice water. Anything WET will cause these labels to delaminate and peel off the bottle.

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Old 12-22-2013, 09:14 AM   #259
Dec 2013
Posts: 1

For the bottles where the glue remains after soaking, paint over the glue with a good coating of cooking oil and leave for a few hours. The glue will become gooey and can easily be removed with a plastic scraper and very little/no work. Then just clean off with hot soapy water and you are done.

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Old 03-29-2014, 04:51 PM   #260
Apr 2011
Austin, Texas
Posts: 22

My preferred method: hot water in and around the bottle in the tub.Click image for larger version

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