You can never have enough glass jars. Once you’re finished with what’s inside, you can keep them to store homemade goods such as jams and pickles. That is if you don’t mind the sticky label. But although these labels are easy to remove, they often leave behind a sticky residue that is hard to look at. Luckily, you get rid of it easily if you know how.
We’ll discuss the following removal methods in this article:
- Soap and water
- Baking soda and cooking oil
- Essential oils
- Plastic scrapers
- Metal razors
- Steel wool
- Masking tape
- Peanut butter
- Rubber eraser
16 best methods to remove sticky residue from glass jars
1) Using soap and water
If you want to work with what you have at home, you can use soap and water to remove the sticky residue from your glass jar. However, simply washing it isn’t enough.
The glue residue can be very stubborn, meaning you have to soak it in hot, soapy water for at least half an hour to achieve the best results. The soap and heat will soften the residue, making it much easier to peel off. We recommend filling the inside of the jar as well – this will make it retain heat much better.
The only drawback of this method is that it doesn’t always work.
2) Add baking soda and cooking oil to the soap bath
The second method builds on the soap bath we mention earlier. If it doesn’t work, add baking soda and cooking oil into the mix. The type of cooking oil doesn’t matter, it can be anything from sunflower to olive oil.
It’s sometimes enough to just scrub the residue off using this mixture. However, we notice the best results if you let it soak in for at least 30 minutes.
This method is much more powerful than using just soap and water. On the other hand, it leaves the jar oily, which can be tough to clean.
3) Use essential oils
Essential oils are strongly hydrophobic substances. This makes them bind to the glue residue on your glass jar, making them much easier to peel off. Common essential oils come from eucalyptus, tea tree, and citrus trees. However, you can use any you have available at home.
Essential oils are very potent and should remove the sticky residue from your glass jar immediately. Simply apply them to a cloth and rub the residue off. Then, wash the leftover oil with soap.
Although essential oils are one of the most effective methods for removing the sticky residue from your glass jar, they can be unsafe. Some are toxic to pets and even humans.
4) Use alcohol
Alcohol is often considered a panacea for scrubbing stubborn dirt off surfaces. It’s no surprise that it works for removing sticky residue from glass jars as well.
However, not all alcohol is the same. The higher the alcohol percentage, the better the results. We recommend using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). You can alternatively use vodka, though this might be less effective (and wasteful).
All you have to do is apply the alcohol on a piece of cloth and scrub the sticky residue until it comes off. If this doesn’t work, leave wrap the alcohol-soaked cloth around the area and let it sit.
While you can soak it in alcohol as well, we don’t recommend it. Alcohol evaporates too quickly, meaning you’ll have to refill it several times.
Using alcohol doesn’t have any major downsides, which makes it one of our favorite methods for getting sticky residue off glass jars.
5) Use acetone
Acetone is a ketone found in nail polish removers and other products. It works very similarly to alcohol, though it often leads to better results.
You can apply it the same way as you would alcohol. Rub it into a piece of cloth and scrub the affected area. In this case, you can’t leave it in since it evaporates quickly.
Acetone should work on even the most stubborn sticky residue on your glass jar. However, be careful while using it. It can cause skin irritation, so make sure you wear gloves when you wash the jar with it.
6) Use heat
If you don’t like handling chemicals, you can use apply heat to the sticky residue. High temperatures soften the glue, making it much easier to scrape off.
You have several methods to apply heat to the sticky area. Perhaps the easiest one is using a hairdryer. Simply plug it in and point it at the glue for a few minutes. The air should be warm but not too hot. Otherwise, you might damage the surface.
You can alternatively use the microwave, though this can be unpredictable.
Once you’re done, mechanically scrape off the glue residue. It should come off easily. Reapply as needed. If even several attempts fail to remove the glue, consider using a different method on this list.
The main drawback of this method is that not all glass handles heat well. High temperatures can damage the surface, so use this method at your own risk.
7) Freeze the glass jar
If heating doesn’t solve your issue, you can go in the opposite direction. Low temperatures harden to glue residue, making it much easier to scrap off. All you have to do is leave the jar in the freezer overnight. You can alternatively put it into ice water if you need to remove the label itself as well.
8) Use a plastic scraper
Plastic scrapers are another physical method for removing glue residue from glass jars. They’re generally very cheap. But if you don’t want to spend any money, you can cut up an old credit card and use it instead.
Using them is very intuitive. Simply scrub the residue off with your scraper until it comes off. You can use a plastic knife as well if you need to.
The reason why so many people recommend using plastic is that it doesn’t damage the glass. Sadly, this also means it’s one of the least effective methods on this list. Moreover, plastic bends and breaks easily. It can thus be very frustrating to use.
9) Use metal razors
Metal razors are much more effective than plastic scrapers. You should be able to remove even the stickiest glue residue off your glass jars with these tools. However, they come with many drawbacks.
Metal is much sharper than plastic, which means you can accidentally scratch the glass. Moreover, using a razor is much more dangerous. Work patiently to avoid accidentally cutting yourself.
Overall, we recommend trying the other methods on this list first before you resort to metal razors.
10) Use steel wool
Steel wool is an even stronger alternative to metal razors. It contains many sharp fibers which can strip the glue residue off your glass jars. However, this is the least gentle method on this list. You can damage the glass if you apply too much pressure to the area.
11) Use packing/masking tape
You can remove the glue residue from your glass jar with masking tape as well. This is a very straightforward method, albeit not the most effective one.
Apply the sticky side of the tape to the residue and rub it against the surface. The tape should pick up most of the glue, leaving clear glass behind. You can also wrap it around your fingers with the non-sticky part and scrub the glass this way.
While this might not always work, you don’t lose anything for trying.
12) Use mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is an oily substance that binds well to glue. Its slightly acidic nature makes it even better at peeling off the stickiness from the glass.
Simply spread mayonnaise on the area and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes. Then, manually scrape it off. The glue should come off together with mayonnaise.
This method is messy but surprisingly effective.
13) Use peanut butter
Peanut butter works for the same reasons as mayonnaise – it contains oils that bind to the glue. The application method is the same. Spread it across the sticky area and leave it there for fifteen minutes. The glue should peel away together with the butter when you scrub it.
14) Rub it with vinegar
Vinegar is an acidic substance that can effectively remove glue residue from glass jars. It also disinfects the area.
Simply rub into onto the sticky residue and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, scrub it off with a plastic scraper.
This method doesn’t have any major drawbacks.
15) Use a rubber eraser
Though it may sound unconventional, you can rub an eraser against the sticky residue to remove it. We recommend this method for smaller patches since it isn’t very effective.
16) Apply WD-40
WD-40 is a must-have multi-purpose lubricant. It is a hydrophobic, oily substance that can dissolve non-polar chemicals, including glue.
Hold the canister near the jar and spray it onto the surface. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wipe it off with a rag. The glue dissolves and comes off together with the product.
Our final thoughts on removing sticky residue from glass jars
When it comes to removing sticky residue from glass jars, you have several options. These can be divided into mechanical, physical, and chemical methods.
The mechanical methods rely on scraping the residue off with a sharp tool. These tools include plastic scrapers, metal razors, steel wool, and even masking tape. However, most of these don’t work well on their own.
Physical methods involve using temperature to your advantage. High temperatures soften the glue, making it easier to remove. On the contrary, low temperatures harden it, which allows you to scrape it off easily.
The most effective methods are chemical ones. Despite the name, these don’t necessarily involve toxic products. You can use products such as peanut butter, mayonnaise, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and acetone to soften the sticky residue. Leave them in for a few minutes, and then scrape the glue off.
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