Tips For Removing Wine Bottle Labels

Removing Wine Bottle LabelsWhat’s the best way to go about removing wine bottle labels off store bought wine bottles.

Donald D. – OH
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Hello Donald,

By far the best way to handle removing wine bottle labels from your wine bottles is to find someone else to do it. There’s nothing fun about it, and there’s no magical tricks that makes it effortless for the home winemaker. There’s some work involved. Having said this, there are some things you can do to make removing wine bottle labels a little less dreadful.

The number one thing you can do to make the process easier is to be selective about what used wine bottles you save. Not all wine bottle labels are the same. Some wine bottle labels are easier to remove than others.

The ideal wine bottle label to take off is a paper label, one where the paper has not been sealed or coated. These types of wine bottle labels will allow water to soak directly through them and to the glue. If given a little time the labels almost fall off once the water as dissolved the glue. These labels can be identified as being rough to the touch and flat in appearance – not glossy and slick.

Wine bottle labels that are made of a sealed paper will be smooth to the touch and have a shiny appearance. The glue will usually dissolve just as easily. The problem is getting the water to the glue. It will not soak as readily through a wine bottle label made from a sealed paper.Shop Wine Bottles

If you do find that this is the kind of label you are dealing with, you can get around this problem with a little extra effort. By taking a razor blade and liberally scoring the label before soaking, you can give the water access points to the glue. Run a bunch of cuts across the label in all directions. The more the better. Let the wine bottle labels soak overnight. You will then need to use a utility scraper to take the labels off.

Once you are done removing wine bottle labels you will still need to deal with some residual glue that is left on the wine bottle. One product I have used for this purpose for years is Goo Gone. Apply it to the glue, and rub it down with a rag.

Donald, I hope this gives you some better insight as how to go about removing wine bottle labels. As you can see there is some time and effort involved. It’s enough work that it’s not something you want to do the same day you plan on bottling your wine. This go much more smoothly if you are removing wine bottle lables ahead of time. That way all you’ll need to do is sanitize the wine bottles before bottling your wine.

Shop Mini Jet Wine FilterAs a final note, it doesn’t have to be this way! We always have new wine bottles that will save you all this trouble. In fact, we have quite a variety now – both cork finish and screw cap finish – in different colors and in different sizes. These would eliminate the need of removing labels from the wine bottles all together.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

40 thoughts on “Tips For Removing Wine Bottle Labels

  1. Try soaking the bottles in an ammonia/water mixture to loosen the labels and then scrap with a single edge razorblade. Any glue residue can be removed with Goo Gone then.

  2. I use a lot of used wine bottles. If the labels have vegetable based glue on them, I scrape most of it off with a razor blade scraper and the rest comes off with dish soap and a kitchen scrubber pad. If the labels have petroleum based glue, I scrape off most of the label and then use cooking spray made with canola oil on a paper towel to rub down what is left. I think that is not a harsh solvent, but it will cut the remaining glue loose, to be scraped off with the razor blade scraper. Once the glue is gone, dish soap will take the canola oil off. Soy oil based spray will not work, but the canola stuff works great, and the generic brand works just as good as a high priced brand.

  3. I recycle all my wine bottles and make my own labels with graphics and text. I use Avery 6464 removable labels. To remove the label, it is just a matter of peeling it off. No residue.

    • I have used the Avery labels a lot. I am finding the Staples brand work just as good and come off much easier. Fill the bottle with very hot water and rinse the outside (hot tap water) and the labels will peel off very quick. The Avery label will come the same way, but you will need a knife to scrape the label and some times a SIS pad to remove the residual glue.

  4. To remove labels, I fill bottles with a Clorox solution, immerse bottles in waterbath canner or large pot & boil for about an hour. This sterilizes the inside of the bottle, & removes or loosens most of the labels.

    • If you are using Clorox or Comet cleanser to clean be sure to rinse the bottle about 6 times. Even a trace amount of chlorine remaining in the bottle will ruin the wine.

  5. I fill the bottle with very hot water, let it sit for a couple of minutes to warm the glass all the way to the outside, and then I slowly peel off the label. It does take a minute or two, but it comes off cleanly and without any adhesive left on the bottle.

  6. I put b B brite in a tub of water on an outdoor cooker,,and almost boiling hot,,the lables and glue fall right off,,and stearilize the bottles too

  7. Here is the solution I use for removing labels from wine bottles. I use a 20 qt stainless pot, stand the bottles in it and fill them with hot water, then fill the pot. add 1/2 cup of ammonia and let stand for about 10 minutes. I also have a hot plate that I put the pot on to keep the water hot. The ammonia will soften the glue. I use a single edge razor blade to remove the labels that don’t just slide off going around the bottle, not up and down. For those slick labels, I put the bottle back in the hot water mixture and continue around in the pot.
    As I remove one bottle, I use a funnel and pour the water out of that bottle into another one and set it in the pot. I generally have 9 bottles in the pot at one time. Before I empty the bottle into another one, I clean the inside with a bottle brush attached to my cordless drill. Hope this is helpful.

  8. I have found success with soaking, scraping and goo-gone as well, but many times the labels that have a coating on them don’t succumb. those labels come off best by simply filling the bottles to top of label with boiling water, thus dissolving the glue from the inside, instead of trying to soak through the outer coating. The label quickly and easily peels off (hold bottle with hot pad), then use goo-gone for any remaining residue. I was amazed when I tried it! Cheers

    • The boiling water sounds like a good idea I’ll have to try it. Instead of Goo Gone you can use any type of oil, olive canola etc. they act as an emulcifier, even soft butter will work just let it sit on there for a couple min.

  9. First I don’t even try to clean the bottles with a see through label’s!
    .I use a 5 gallon bucket with the lid, I’m able to soak 8 bottles at a time in straight eight cleaner or B bright . Fill bucket so bottle’s are full and just covered. after sitting over night some ladle’s fall right off. those that don’t get another night soaking.
    some need a little scraping with an old butter knife and a quick scrub with dish soap on a scrubby sponge.
    Now and then there is one that needs hot water and more scrubbing
    I start cleaning the bottles I need half way through the second fermentation this way I have plenty of time, takes about 5 min. every other night done in a week. cover clean bottles’ with plastic rap only have to sterilize when ready to bottle.

  10. Just use the sanitizer you use to clean/sanitize the bottles – it works great dissolved in hot water!!
    I use an old canning pot, fill with hot sanitizer water and let them soak for about an hour or two or overnight. European labels and 50% of the CA ones come off easily, some require a little scraping with a knife or a Scotch pad taken to them. Just recycle the Australian and NZ ones – those folks use kangaroo glue and it doesn’t come loose. My general rule, if the label doesn’t float off, I don’t bother.

  11. I find that a little “Oxyclean” laundry detergent in warm to hot water works great. I put the solution in a wine chiller base, fill the bottle with warm water {so it won’t float}, and place the bottle upright in the liquid for a couple of hours. Labels float right off.

    • I sink my bottles in a tub,or sink and add “Oxyclean” detergent crystals. Let stand for 30 minutes or so and the labels just float rite off. Rinse them clean and they are ready to sanitize. This will do the same for plastic bottles.

  12. Fill bottle with hot water use a plastic bucket that the bottle can sit in. Fill with hot water & Oxyclean 1/2 scoop later on use a window scraper to remove label . Some labels will just float off!!

  13. I used to soak them in 5 gl bucket with water and 2 cups of vinegar and scrape off. Now when I have 4/5 bottle after I done the dishes I place them in that soapy water and let them go overnight.and scrape. this work for me best.

  14. First use a fingernail to see if the label has a type of adhesive which will peel off slowly and cleanly, in one piece, without soaking. Soaking makes removing these much more difficult. Most bottles are not this type.

    Most bottles require soaking. Heating and use of detergents are faster, but I just soak them in cold water for 12 – 24 hours. If the label is plastic or foil- coated, always score first, even just one or two scrapes with a knife blade.

    If you have to scrape labels often, consider buying a product called the “Labelnator.” I have had one for several years, and for about $11, it’s a real time saver.

    Orange oil also works for residual adhesive, and it’s easier to wash off than vegetable oil.

  15. All of these comment have good suggestions. However, after much frustration trying to handle ammonia, I found that it is the alkali that hydrolyzes the glue and makes it soluble in hot water. Just add a small amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the hot water. This eliminates the need for smelly ammonia. I also incorporate a small amount of dish detergent to facilitate a more rapid wetting out of the label. I plan to try the Goo-Gone. That sounds interesting.

  16. WOW, What a Great Article, Thanks to everyone for your comments… I will be trying some of the methods to see what works best.. 🙂

  17. I fill them with hot water and fill up a bucket hot water and let them soak overnight . the next day most lables come off, if not repeat or scrap with a paint scraper . glue comes goo remover or skin so soft

  18. I made a clamp to hold the bottle tight to the ground and then use a power masher. It only takes seconds to remove a label.

  19. I HAVE MADE 10GALS OF FIG WINE. IT HAS PLENTY OF ALCOHOL BUT NO TASTE.
    WHAT CAN I DO? CAN I MIX IT ? WITH WHAT ? THANK “U” !!!
    JAMES F FRYE
    CARTHAGE, N. C.

  20. i made a metal cylinder out of 4″ muffler pipe 13″ tall ( you can’t use PVC) I made a cap out of a pipe cap ( rubber) add 1/4 full of Lacquer Thinner . You can put any wine bottle in, cap holds bottle under the thinner and no smell, wait depending on label 30 min. to over night . in over a year and 100’s of bottles haven’t found one yet that doesn’t come right off once in a wile i have to use wD40 to take off some glue residue

  21. My son is the head winemaker at a local winery I have him bring home the empty tasting bottles for our home wine by far the easiest way is to put hot water in a 5 gal. bucket add straight A cleaner to it &put the the bottles in it soak for a couple of days not only do the labels come off but the bottle is clean

  22. Use oil, again, use oil, and once again just incase you didn’t hear it, USE OIL. I use any oil that’s it the pantry, you could use used motor oil, but I wouldn’t recommend it around wine. Once the paper is off just put a bit of oil on the glue, let it set for a minute, and rub with paper towel. It’s that easy.

  23. I use the last suggestion. Fill bottle about half full hot water. set them another bucket of hot water and add about 1/4 cup of Oxyclean. Leave over night or longer. Label will come off quite eazy. Those that don’t come off throw the bottle as far as you cne or set it on a post in the country and practice shooting it.

  24. Removing wine bottle labels is not that difficult. Forget the special compounds or gadgets. Just soak them in a sink or tub for several days ensuring that both labels are in the water. Scrape label and glue off using a razor blade attached to an appropriate handle to prevent accidental cuts to your hands. It has worked for hundreds of bottles.

  25. Ok; seeing as I didn’t see my way of removing bottle labels, this is how I do it. I separate a wire snapped clothespin from its snap spring. I use the two peace’s of wood to keep the wine bottle from rolling back and forth in my microwave laying on its side with the labels facing upward and outward. I rinsed and cleaned out the inside of the bottle with just plain hot tap water from the sink. I leave maybe an ounce of water still in the bottle when I set it in the microwave. Still wet inside and out. Two minutes in the micro is all it really needs. I remove the bottle with a small hand towel and carry it back to the sink. I take a plain eating fork that forms nicely to the side and neck of the bottle; and easily scrape of the label off. Any remaining glue on the out side of the bottle comes off very easy with just your dish soap and scrub pad. The whole thing takes no more than four or five minutes per bottle, and I didn’t waste gallons of water to do it, or have to Waite 24hrs.soaking.

  26. This tip is for adding new labels.
    After cleaning off all the used bottle labels, I wanted to simplify the process for next time. I use self adhesive address labels (30 per page). I have a label file on my computer that I update with the new wine batch info (wine type, date bottled etc.) and use these in place of fancy labels. Works great if you are not into using the fancy labels.

  27. Put the bottle with the adhesive sticky glue in the oven at 200 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Pull out with a hot pad or towel. Carefully peel off label. Once it is cool, clean up excess glue with goof off, etc. Works like a charm. I put 10 or 15 at a time in oven. Works slick!

  28. I tried heating them in the oven, soaking them in hot water and finally used paint stripper and a cheep brush and applied a light coat to the labels and they came right off in minutes with a glass scrapper or actually a utility knife blade. I did 60 bottles in less than 1 hour. Also any remaining adhesive I cleaned with goof-off!

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