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Getting Those Labels Off

Getting Those Labels Off

Lightweight, non-reactive, unbreakable and usually airtight plastic containers are perfect for storing dried herbs and other treasures. Reusing them reduces waste and environmental impact much more effectively than labor–and chemistry-intensive industrial recycling.

The only hitch is those stupid labels. Most glues don’t stick to plastic, so the ones used to stick labels on it have to be practically bulletproof. Unlike glass containers, plastic ones can’t be de-labelled by soaking in hot water. Scrubbing scratches up the plastic, and even then it only removes the paper. Tacky glue remains to stick to hands and attract dirt.

But removing labels from plastic containers is deceptively easy once you know how. For success every time, without scratched containers or residual glue, follow this simple procedure:

1. Apply a thick coat of cooking oil to the label in question.
2. Allow it to soak in, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
3. Try to peel the label off. If it comes readily, proceed to the next step. If it doesn’t, repeat steps 1 and 2. (Many labels require two applications; some take several.)
4. After the label has been peeled off, some sticky, partly dissolved glue will remain. To remove it, coat the area with oil a final time and allow it to sit overnight.
5. Wipe off the oil and dissolved glue, then wash the container in hot, soapy water. No trace of label or glue will remain.

Note from Annie: Although this is not the book in which you’d expect to find information about removing labels, it does in fact have one of the best set of directions for solving this very commonly frustrating challenge. It is also one of my favorite books, because of tidbits just such as this.

Read more: Home, Household Hints

Adapted from 'The Neighborhood Forager, by Robert K. Henderson.Copyright (c)2000 by Robert K. Henderson. Reprinted by permission of Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
Adapted from 'The Neighborhood Forager, by Robert K. Henderson.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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The Neighborhood Forager

There is an extraordinary edible bounty right outside your back door, even if you live in suburbia or a city. This book guides you there!buy now


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1:58PM PST on Feb 3, 2013


6:30AM PDT on May 10, 2012

Tea tree oil works amazing, just apply and in seconds wipe off and it's all gone... then wash the tea tree oil off...

6:30AM PDT on May 10, 2012

Tea tree oil works amazing, just apply and in seconds wipe off and it's all gone... then wash the tea tree oil off...

10:45AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Great tip - thanks for posting.

6:13AM PST on Feb 22, 2012

Thanks!--didn't realize oil would work..been trying to get the usual things to work, as well as citra-solve, with limited results. Very cool!

1:02PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

I give it a try. Thanks.

10:05AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

hey thanks, good to know.

9:59AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Well, you learn something new every day! Thanks for posting.

9:37AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Thank you Annie! :)

9:18AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Thank you Annie! :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking


Bob P. Bob P.
on The Penis Project
47 seconds ago

Good advice, thanks.

I wonder how wrinkly their cheeks are under their fur.


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