cleaning labels off of bottles.

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Jul 1, 2013
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Just out of curiosity does anyone reuse commercial bought bottles for home brewing? I spent hours Friday night cleaning labels off of bottles I been saving for the last few months. I soaked them in warm water, pealed the labels off with my hands best I could, and then scrubbed them with a Mr Clean magic eraser. What does everyone else do?
I leave the labels on... Got sick as **** of scrubbing them off. Plus half the bombers I have are painted bottles.
The best method that I have found is to soak the bottles in a warm bath of OxiClean Free. The labels peel right off after about an hour. Make sure you rinse well with clean water afterwards.
Try soaking them in OxiClean or bleach over night. Usually takes labels right off.
Wow.. I'll try the oxyclean next time! But did it get the glue residue off? That's what I used the magic eraser for.
+2 for oxyclean. Even the generic store brand works and it'll save you a buck or two. I did have to wipe some residual glue off, but it wasn't that big of a deal. I saved up a bunch of bottles and filled a cooler with the solution, drowned the bottles in it overnight and wiped and sprayed them off the next day. Been using the same bottles for years.
+3 for Oxyclean and warm water....I also use a plastic scrubbing pad to take off any residual glue (the Oxyclean basically reduces it to mush). Make sure you rinse the hell out of them.
+4 on the Oxyclean. I have also found that Sierra Nevada bottles clean up the easiest. The labels just fall off without any scrubbing or work involved. They are actually the only bottle I use. It's a win-win deal. They are quality bottles and their beer is pretty good too.
+3 for Oxyclean and warm water....I also use a plastic scrubbing pad to take off any residual glue (the Oxyclean basically reduces it to mush). Make sure you rinse the hell out of them.

More or less what I do too, other than use PBW and one of the non-scratching Scotch-Brite pads.

After a couple hours in hot PBW solution many of the labels slide off or peel off easily, then a couple passes with the Scotch-Brite removes the leftover glue muck.

Certainly there are some labels that come off harder than others though. Came across a case of Duvel bottles once. Those came off darn near just by looking at them, OTOH, as I recall, Summit bottles are some that require a fair bit of work. The Sierra Nevada bottles mentioned do clean up pretty easily too.
I soak n bleach water for min 5 hours if not over nite. There r still stubborn labels that the back side of a metal butter knife makes quick work of. Just dont use semi sharp side or u will scratch the glass.
Couple hours in water (with or without PBW) then the key:a wet rag. (believe me I've tried many different tools, metal, goo gone etc) Scrape the label off using a hard edged tool, then take the wet rag, wrap it around the bottle and spin. Works awesome except on a few breweries bottles which nothing works for.
I've been cleaning bottles in a hot water/PBW solution for the last hour or so.

New Glarus, Deschutes, Bell's, and some from Goose Island all pretty much slid off or easily peeled off whole within 5-10 minutes of soaking. Another 5 minutes and what little glue snot remains wipes off with a sponge or the non-scratching Scotch-Brite pad.

I have some bottles from Lucid Brewing that I will be tossing because they're not worth the effort to remove the labels when compared to these others. Maybe if I was hard up for bottles I'd mess with them but much, much easier ones are not that hard to come by.

Edit: Looks like I'll probably toss some from Brau Brothers too. They'll come off but, again, why screw around when easy ones are to be had.
An overnight Oxyclean soak gets the vast majority of labels off with no scraping what so ever.

I use a green scotchbrite pad to take off any glue.

Bottles that require any more effort than that go to the recycling bin.
  1. About a cup of ammonia in a plastic tub. The tub is big enough to lay 2 cases of long necks on their sides. Fill with water and burp out air.
  2. Leave it out on the deck for a day or two.
  3. Use Chore Boy to scrape any left over crap still on them.
  4. Bottles that require any more effort than that go to the recycling bin.
I've tried soaking them in Easy Clean, just water, and putting them in the dishwasher (if you pull em out right after the drying they come off pretty easy. Now...I just make sure I have enough blank bottles in case I need to enter a competition. On the other hand...I was in the homebrew shop yesterday (over here in Georgia) and we just had a local competition postponed because it's illegal to transport homebrew...but if the bottles already have labels on them...
+10(or whatever on the oxiclean free)
I soak in a bucket overnight and ~90% of bottles' labels fall right off and the glue completely dissolves. Rinse with hot water and you're done.
For the stubborn ones, I use one of those copper scouring pads (I find the scotch brite pads clog with glue after a couple bottles). Works great and doesn't damage the glass!