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Removing Labels From Bottles

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ghostbrewer

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Looking to find what the best techniques are others have found for removing the labels from your empties so you can use them to bottle your first batch. Primary concern is gumming up the dishwasher with label paper when I sterilize the bottles.:mug:
 

mosquitocontrol

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soak in oxyclean and hot water for a few hours or overnight in the bathtub. All of the labels will fall off in the morning. And most if not all of the glue will wipe off with no effort.

You'll figure out the brands with the stubborn labels and learn to not even try on those anymore.
 

ChshreCat

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+1 on oxyclean. The only trouble I have is with bottles that have glossy, plasticy labels instead of paper. All the paper ones fall off in just a couple hours. The other ones, I go back after an hour or so and peel off the top layer of the label to expose the paper underneath and the rest comes off easily an hour or two later.
 

Aquaman

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I use a wall paper remover thingie that puts small holes in the label(or wall paper) this allows the Oxyclean solution to get to the glue and they come off easily (even the glossy ones)

A picture of the tool is here (scroll down a bit.)
Stripping Wallpaper - Now it is Easy!
 

slykwilli

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I get some TSP (paint and gunk remover - sold in the paint area) from Home Depot. Little bit of that and bleach in water and sit overnight.. all the glue and labels will slide right off.
 

woodstone

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I've used Joy of Homebrew spec of 1 cup (I think) ammonia in 5 gallons of water. Most labels fall off and you'll only need to simply wipe off the glue. I really think it is the soak in water that separates the labels but like most posts, no matter what you use, some brands are just plain hell to get off!
 

chenwood

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I've just been soaking in hot tap water for a few minutes, peel off the labels and scrub for a few seconds with some nylon mesh dish washing thing (~$1).
 

ifishsum

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A bleach soak in hot water works also, if you don't have oxyclean. A scotch brite pad will make quick work of any paper or glue that's left on the bottle. Either way once the labels are off you want to rinse the bottles well in warm water - I always rinse them 3 times before storing them.
 

llazy_llama

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I'm all about the oxiclean. The only thing I haven't been able to remove with oxiclean so far is that damn gold foil on Samuel Smith bottles and the smell of wet dog from my dogs favorite chair.
 
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ghostbrewer

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Another + 1 for OXYCLEAN. Worked wonders on the bottle labels. The bottles it worked best on were Bitburger - yet another reason to drink more Bitburger! Those labels floated right off after about an hour and left almost nothing behind. The Sam Smith's bottles (except for the foil around the top) did the same thing. The most problematic ones were the Dos Equis - took much longer and finally required a green-scratchie. The green-scratchie easily removed everything else. Again - thanks to all for the input.:D
 

sundaybrewingco

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Never did Oxyclean, but I usually just fill up the sink with hot water and put some soap in there. Put as many bottles in the sink that it can hold, play the banjo for 10 minutes, come back and pull the labels off. A razor blade comes in handy to scrape off the remaining glue.
 

Nugu

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10 minutes in warm water, remove labels.

SOS Steel wool pad to remove glue. Fast once over on all bottles removes every trace of labeling/glue.

SOS pads work great for the amazingly ****ty glue some bottles use (Heinekein, that crap ATTACHES TO OTHER FREAKING BOTTLES and gumps up) it just dissolves it on contact. Even removes the tiny black ink lettering you see stamped on bottles.
 

spitfire

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I use Oxyclean for my bottles. The few bottles I had problems with are Railbender Ale from Erie brewing and Mcsorleys are hell to get he labels off. Actually the labels come off but the glue doesn't. Any tips? I get these cases from my neighbor and he gave me 3 of them and I basically have bottles with sticky spots where the label used to be.
 

camiller

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I put the rinsed empties to the left of the kitchen sink. A few days later they have moved to the right side and the labels are gone!

I tell my wife I love here every day!
 

Clayton

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i always use TSP or Bleach in a large trashcan

why in the hell would you use your sink or bath tub what a mess

let then soke over night or a few weeks i just keep my bottle tub full of water and bleach and just toss the bottles in when i am done drinking it.
or alease when i am saving - keeping bottles
 

Stark

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Have yet to use OxyClean, but some hot water and Power Brew Wash (PBW) does the trick perfectly. OxyClean will most likely be on the cheaper end, but I can only vouch for PBW. =)
 

Dextersmom

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i usually use one of those copper scouring pads after the bottles sat over night in what was initially hot soapy water
 

MrWhleDr

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cold hose water, sit for a while, wire brush, good to go.
 

Beerdrop

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PBW for an hour works for me. Stubborn paper and glue will get a combo of a razor and scotchbrite pad.

And don't EVER try to use Amstel Light bottles (Brother-In-Law's favorite beer, not mine :) ). They never come off easy and you can't reuse with normal capper. Wasted a lot of time with a case of them once...
 

Tighe

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For the poster saying that Oxy Clean didn't work on the foil on Sam Smith's bottles, just give it some time. Three or four days in there and they'll be floating just like the labels.
 

illin8

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+15 on an over-night soak in oxyclean. I usually take them out of that bath with a couple gallons of warm water w/ oxy clean and a yellow sponge w/ the green scrubby on the back and give each one a quick swipe to get the glue off. Works easy.
 

android

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i've never had much problem, with the exception of a few brands, with just putting them in the side sink with really hot water immediately after drinking them so i don't have to spend 3 hours de-labeling bottles after they accumulate. within a few hours, most labels are floating or really loose. i give each a scrub with a magic eraser to get the glue off and they're good to go. for the really stubborn ones i use a plastic kitchen scraper to remove the label, it works in a pinch.
 

Dog House Brew

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I keep a trash can full of OxyClean and leave bottles in there for a couple days and wipe clean, rinse well, ready for the fill. Love OxyClean :D
 

HangLoose

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No way, man. If Oxiclean doesn't kill it, you have to nuke the site from orbit.







It's the only way to be sure.
Actually nuking them is the way to go. I really like Sierra Nevada beer, and their bottles but the labels are a bisitch to remove. So this is what I do:

Soak them in warm water at least a few minutes, longer is better. Then pour out any water and pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds or so. Quickly remove them and the label should come right off. Let the bottles cool a little then use a scrubby pad to remove the remaining gum -it comes right off. DONE!

It sounds like a PIA but its not so bad really and its a lot better then using a razor blade or wire brush IMO.
 
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Brooklyn Brewery labels, so far, have been the most bothersome. After an oxyclean soak, still needed some vigorous scraping with a stoneware kitchen scraper. They did finally come clean, glue and all.

I did run into a different problem with Bitburger bottles - the labels come off very easily, but they take a different size cap than all the other ones. Feedback from the bottling forum says they are likely 29 or 31 mm vice 26 mm. The 26 mm appears to be the "normal" size for many domestically obtained bottles and capping gear.:cross:

Standard bottles are 26mm and some import bottles are 29/31mm. You can get a different bell for your capper and find the caps needed.

I just standardize on the 26mm bottles and pitch/return the others.
 

danorocks17

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I haven't tried oxiclean yet, but i usually soak in hot water in the bath tub, if they give me any trouble after that I take a wire brush to them
 

rtichota

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WD-40 actually works really well for removing any glue residue. Just give a solid spray after peeling the label off and take a washcloth or sponge and wipe, usually comes right off.
 

Lucasdog

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B-Brite!!!! Soak bottles. I've NEVER had a problem. Labels float to the top and glue washes right off!
 

TacoGuthrie

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Get Oxi-Clean.

At first I tried hot water and dish soap overnight. Got some but not all labels off. Then I tried hot water and bleach/ ammonia overnight in a cooler. Still didn't get everything and I sucked in too many bad fumes.

In the end I tried oxi clean and it got everything off in a couple hrs.
 

spitfire

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Actually nuking them is the way to go. I really like Sierra Nevada beer, and their bottles but the labels are a bisitch to remove. So this is what I do:

Soak them in warm water at least a few minutes, longer is better. Then pour out any water and pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds or so. Quickly remove them and the label should come right off. Let the bottles cool a little then use a scrubby pad to remove the remaining gum -it comes right off. DONE!

It sounds like a PIA but its not so bad really and its a lot better then using a razor blade or wire brush IMO.
Sierra Nevada has been the easiest labels for me to remove. They fall off an hour after being in the oxyclean. Glue wipes right off, Not sure why you are having a hard time with this bottles.
 

HangLoose

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Sierra Nevada has been the easiest labels for me to remove. They fall off an hour after being in the oxyclean. Glue wipes right off, Not sure why you are having a hard time with this bottles.
Maybe I'm impatient.
 
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ghostbrewer

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Over the last few months, the trend I see is that import labels come off with little to no trouble and the domestics are a real PIA. In general, the imports accept the cap I get from my LHBS. The exceptions so far are Dos Equis and Bitburger.

So far, the following labels come off very easily with a short oxyclean soak and take the caps I get at my LHBS (Homebrew USA, Virginia Beach, VA):
  • Warsteiner
  • Paulaner
  • Aventinus
  • Sam Smith's
  • Kona Brewing *
  • Grolsch
  • Moylan's

* a little troublesome, but worth the effort.

The following, while taking the standard cap, are a real PIA to de-label:
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Saranac
  • Magic Hat

Hope the data is useful. Suppose I'll update this as I learn more. For everyone who has contributed to this thread, thank you.:D
 

rico567

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I'm not a candidate for Oxi-Clean. Our well water has minerals in it that will leave a film on the bottles if they're in an Oxi-Clean soak more than a half-hour. The film must then be removed with an acid wash.....too much bother. I just use PBW, run some hot tap water in the sink and throw in a couple of tablespoons. I can then submerge about 24 bottles at a time. I do this on a day when I can multitask and walk away and do something else for an hour. After that time, most labels remove quite well.

As mentioned in a previous post, Magic Hat is bad (& 3 labels?!?!?!?)/....... and Saranac is hell.

My favorite? Schlafly's (St. Louis Brewing). A half-hour soak and the labels just slip off. Too bad their beer's not better.....
 

Jlvw

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I am not sure if anyone has mentioned this- but Mr. Clean magic erasers work AMAZINGLY well to remove the goop that's hard to get off after soaking. Well, so my wife says!
 

Ferrousity

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Oxy Clean worked well for me....maybe too well...once the glue dissolved I ended up with glue particles on the INSIDE of the bottles which was a huge PITA to clean. I may cap my clean bottles before soaking next time to prevent this.
 
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Found some U.S. bomber-size (22 oz / 650 ml) bottles that are very easy to de-label. I was only planning to sterilize the bottles using my LHBS no-rinse sanitizing powder in v. hot water, but found an extra perk after about 20-30 minutes of soaking:

  • Heavy Seas
  • Great Divide
  • Lagunitas
  • Southern Tier

The Heavy Seas labels peeled right off with almost no residue after about 10 minutes and in one piece. Lagunitas came off in pieces and left residue, but come off it did. Southern Tier took a bit more effort to lift the first corner up, but once started, it came off in one piece with little residue. Great Divide floated off after 45 minutes.
 
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