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Getting labels off of bottles

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nstein3214

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So I just brewed my first 5 gal kit and have been buying 12 packs of various craft beers with brown bottles to use for my beer. Anybody have any good tips on how to get the labels and the sticky glue mess off the bottles? I was thinking about just letting them sit hot soapy water and scrubbing them off.any tips would be appreciated.
 

Travestian

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oxiclean in warm water. give it a few hours and the labels and glue just wipe right off. no scrubbing necessary.
 

Hello

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For me, even with oxiclean, I run a sponge around the bottles to wipe off residual glue. There is zero force needed, just something to push the substance off. Don't use the sponge for your dishes later. I did and the warm water activated the glue left on the sponge and I had to really work to get it off of my stainless steel pots and pans. :( Also, be real sure to rinse well. I find oxiclean makes the bottles slick so they get a good rinse in warm water then a few pumps on the vinator with warm water. I may be overdoing it, of course.

Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Bass bottles have come off easiest thus far.
Lonerider Beer bottles are next to impossible and not worth my time as with Big Boss bottles. Their labels come off in about 24 hours leaving what appears to be an oil base glue residue that doesn't wipe off easily. Unless bottles are in short supply, I recycle them or use them for myself (opposed to giving them to neighbors) because I don't care about the labels.
 

IslandLizard

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^ yes.

I let mine soak for 1 or 2 days in a large plastic tote. The labels float off. Give them a good scrub on the outside with a stiff hand brush to get the glue remnants off and a good scrub with a bottle brush on the inside. Rinse well. Then rinse again. Those jet sprays that screw onto your faucet are great.

Sanitize with Starsan right before you bottle.

Using Oxyclean here is really a waste. The oxygen component has little or no effect on getting the labels off. Washing soda (not baking soda), also sold as laundry booster, works just as well. I actually use powdered laundry detergent for the soak, cheap and cheerful. A large box of Surf lasts years, and gets used for other washing chores too.
 

MattSFT

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20 minutes in a hot water soak with a scrub pad works for me.
 

petie

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Travestian said:
oxiclean in warm water. give it a few hours and the labels and glue just wipe right off. no scrubbing necessary.
Only way to go right here.
 

prince4118

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I use straight hot water an hour soak and all paper labels come off an for plastic labels I take them off soak in soapy hot water and wipe them all with a clothes to remove any little bits of glue
 

BigFloppy

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warm water for a couple of hours. if the labels don't float away I use the cleaner for my glass stove-top (has a razor type edge)
To make sure I've got all glue residue off that was left by either process, a couple of passes with a "magic eraser" cleans everything right up
 

Nitrousbird

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I've not done beer bottles but I have removed labels from more wine bottles than I care to admit to. It seems everyone has a different labeling method, and especially on Champagne bottles, different label methods on the same bottle.

I normally let them soak for a couple hours in some B-brite or just straight water. The easy ones just peel off and sometimes need a hit with a scrub brush.

For the harder ones, steel wools is magic. Gets the labels right off and the residue is gone in seconds on all but the very worst of labels. There have been a couple where a bit of Goo Gone was required.
 

60sd

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Im a big fan of the Oxyclean method. I soak for about 20 min then use a sharp razor to scrape the labels (most have already floated off by that time), then a quick scrub under hot tap water with a scotch-brite pad and they're good to go. I then rinse and run through the dishwasher with no detergent to make them ready for storage.

I also agree with previous posts that some bottles are easier than others. Sierra Nevada bottles clean up so easily that I'm convinced they formulated their labels and glue with homebrewers in mind.
 

feinbera

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Oxyclean and warm water really do work wonders -- at least for the "easy" labels, the labels really will just float to the surface after a few hours, leaving you to just quickly wipe, rather than scrub, the residual glue away.

That being said, there's a huge amount of variety in label and glue composition. Anything with a plastic label is gonna be a huge pain, and even some of the paper labels have nasty insoluble glue that will take a good whack with the steel wool to get off.

Give all the bottles a shot for your first couple batches; you'll quickly get a feel for how hard each locally-available brewery's labels are to remove, and from there, you can prioritize the bottles you choose to use, the bottles you'll just rinse out to keep from mouldering and only de-label in a pinch, and the bottles you'll throw straight in the recycling.
 

Grannyknot

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20 Mule Team Borax works best for me.
I put a cup of it in my sink, run some warm water in there, let the bottles sit for ~30min and they come right off.
 

ROLLTIDE

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Last time, I tried soaking in star-san overnight and it did NOTHING. Dumped it out and refilled my 5 gallon pot with hot tap water and baking soda (yes, regular baking soda) , in a couple of hours they were falling off. I have heard oxyclean time and time again but I had baking soda on hand and it is a LOT cheaper. Note, there was some very minor glue left on the bottles but a quick wipe with a wet rag took care of that.
 

patthebrewer

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B-Brite and hot water also works.....labels just float right off...Except for a local brewery here in NJ. I honestly think "River Horse" uses EPOXY to glue their D*mn labels on. Nuthin but a belt sander get their labels off:D
 

kh54s10

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Oxyclean soak and scrubbie for me also.

Some come clean easily and some must be using Super Industrial Strength labels and glue!
 

BradTheGeek

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I have found that regular baking soda soaking works wonders on most labels. I use the already old stuff in my fridge that has been absorbing odors rather than from the cupboard.

I have found that most labels that have shiny foil in their design tend to be tough as nails. You also learn which ones work best and which don't. I also look for the number of labels. A neck label or small promo label on the back, while probably using the same glue, just makes more work. After soaking and peeling, there is often some glue left. A small plastic scrubby normally gets it off with little work. If you have batches, soak in a bucket and pour your soak water back into the bucket for the next batch.

Here are some of my results (judging their labels, not beer):
Guinness, hard
Devils Backbone(nelson cty, va), terrible
Legend (Richmond va), impossible
Starr Hill (crozet va), medium
New Belgium, easy
Green flash, super easy, pretty bottles
Sierra Nevada, easy
And what makes up the bulk of my bottles, red hook

I like red hook for several reasons, I can get it cheap, its tolerable beer, the labels come off easy, i like the shape and I know where to fill to, finally the style of case makes a nifty bottle drying rack.
 

Loftearmen

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Does anyone know how to remove screen printed labels? I have a bunch of 32oz Corona Familiar bottles that I'd like to get the labels off of.
 

IslandLizard

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Does anyone know how to remove screen printed labels? I have a bunch of 32oz Corona Familiar bottles that I'd like to get the labels off of.
If it's screen printed directly to the glass it's quite permanent. Let it be, it adds character. Some Rogue bottles are like that too. An industrial paint stripper may dissolve it with time.
 

Epimetheus

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Oxyclean overnight works for most bottles. Some labels seem to be affixed with epoxy.
 

IslandLizard

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...Except for a local brewery here in NJ. I honestly think "River Horse" uses EPOXY to glue their D*mn labels on...
River Horse! Now you're onto some obscure brewery. I've been there a few times in the past. 2 lovely Swedish ladies were running the tap room. From what I remember they had a very decent IPA and some sort of delicious Alt Beer.

Their labels may well be epoxied. Or heat activated.
 

Tommyb52

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Soak in hot soapy water and what doesn't come off cover in peanut butter and let sit overnight then just wipe off. Works every time.
 

DanH

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Travestian said:
oxiclean in warm water. give it a few hours and the labels and glue just wipe right off. no scrubbing necessary.
Probably the best solution. I have found that labels/glue is easily removed from Widmer bottles. Usually the label falls off and the glue wipes off easily after that.
 

AlCophile

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Screen print directly on glass can be TEDIOUSLY removed with a razor blade. Really not worth it, as I, and others, I suspect, can get 22ozers at recycling center. The removed paint may contain poisonous metals, like cadmium, so, is it really worth it?
I have a hook to remove bottles from recycle bin, as town's insurance doesn't allow for you to crawl into the bin.
 

MaxStout

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Does anyone know how to remove screen printed labels? I have a bunch of 32oz Corona Familiar bottles that I'd like to get the labels off of.
The enamel used for screen printing varies. I can clean it off Stone bottles by soaking in regular strength Starsan for a couple days. Corona bottles? Starsan doesn't take a dent out of it, and I gave up on those. Maybe sandblasting will work. :cross:
 

WissaBrewGuy

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First off, I'm not sure why you would want Corona bottles at all: they are clear... Secondly, I can't seem to strip the screen printed logos off of Stone either. I usually just use them as is.
 

glenn514

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The ease of removing labels varies greatly from brewery to brewery. Sam Adams labels come off easily; New Glarus labels [from Wisconsin] also come off easily. If I have a difficult time removing the label, the bottle goes into my recycling bin! They're just not worth the time and effort.

glenn514:mug:
 

Loftearmen

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First off, I'm not sure why you would want Corona bottles at all: they are clear... Secondly, I can't seem to strip the screen printed logos off of Stone either. I usually just use them as is.
I have Corona Familiar bottles which are brown.
 

integra93ls

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In this month byo magazine there is a new product called labelnator or something Like that. But I guess right now can only buy in bulk (case of 24) maybe if we get enough people who want we can buy it bye the case.
 

NTexBrewer

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I have had success removing Stone and Corona silk screening with muriatic acid and CLR. I have a pool so I have to add muriatic acid every week. I usually put the bottles in the acid for a day and then dump the acid in the pool. Let the bottles dry in the sun and then the paint just comes off with a metal scrubber. I do have to admit that this worked for a few red stripe bottles but has not worked on some recent ones. All of the red stripe came from the same 12 pack so I'm not sure why. Muriatic acid has nasty fumes so you have to do the soaking outside.

For the CLR, I use full strength and usually it is easy to rub off after a day of soaking.

I have some HEB soda bottles I'm collecting for mead and cider. For these the only thing that works is just using sand paper.
 

newbies13

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Sam adams bottles are the best bet I think. They are a nice dark color, non twist off, and the labels come off very clean and simply.
 

YakAttack

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I spray the labels with oven cleaner and wipe the labels off with a paper towel 5 minutes later and then run them thru the dishwasher.
 

Black Island Brewer

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I think Rogue most use some weapons grade glue. Some of their labels will not come off after days of soaking. Love their beer though.
+1

Several breweries' labels will not come off with oxyclean. Some have plastic coatings, some have industrial strength glue. So after their oxyclean bath, I peel the plastic if they had it, soak it more, then scrape with a teflon scraper. The glue can be removed with a paper towel and WD40, and then washed with hot soapy water. I don't do this for 12s, it's just not worth it, but for bombers I take the time.
 

newbies13

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Yeah it seems like the smaller the brewery the more glue they use, and the stronger it is. Most of the big names seem to have streamlined their profits all the way down to the glue that is used. Which is great for us as it means the labels slide right off.

Personally if they don't just easily peel off after a day or so of soaking I just toss the bottles, it's not worth the time it takes to scrub them.
 
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