How to Remove Beer Bottle Labels: Beer Bottle Reuse and Labels

Beer bottles with removed labels

To remove labels from beer bottles you should first soak the bottle in warm water and soap, so the glue loosens up its grip from the glass. Of course, there are more steps to it and we will go through them so you can reuse your favorite beer bottles to store and share your homemade beer.

Apart from cost-effectively bottling your homebrew, you can use empty bottles for home craft and décor. Go ahead and keep reading our article to remove beer labels yourself!

How to Effectively Remove Beer Bottle Labels: Tools Needed

Tools and Supplies for Removing Beer Bottle Labels

The tools and supplies you’ll need to get rid of labels off your beer bottles include:

  • Sta San
  • Baking soda
  • Stainless steel wool
  • Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)
  • Ammonia
  • Warm water
  • Safety gear- mask, gloves, goggles
  • Dishtowel or paper towel
  • A bucket, sink, or bathtub

If the beer bottle label removal method you pick involves chemicals, friction, and/or heat, you’ll need the following items as well:

  • A clean sponge
  • Latex gloves
  • A strainer or sieve
  • Metal scrubbing brush or wire wool
  • Barbeque gloves or oven mitts

Eight Simple Techniques for Removing Beer Bottle Labels at Home

1. Soaking

Soaking beer bottles is the most common method for getting labels off beer bottles. A soapy solution can loosen most labels within an hour of soaking the beer bottles. However, stubborn labels may take several days of soaking to come off your bottles.

Residue stuck on beer bottles, at the bottom, also loosen with soaking. This is the best way to remove labels from beer bottles.

You can soak your beer bottles in soapy water or a solution with any of the following chemicals:

  • OxiClean
  • PBW
  • Baking soda
  • Star San
  • Ammonia

– Warm Soapy Water

Soaking your beer bottles in warm soapy water for hours or days makes it easy to rip off labels. Fully submerge the bottles in soapy water to easily remove the paper labels. Keep in mind that most labels that peel easily will come off on their own.

– OxiClean

This homebrewing cleaning agent removes most beer labels. It works for stubborn beer labels that require more powerful action and that are firmly glued onto glass beer bottles.

Moreover, a dishwashing soap cuts through stains and grease while loosening tough adhesives.

Opt for the odorless OxiClean, which doubles as a sanitizer, and follow these steps:

  • Add a tablespoon of OxiClean in a sink of warm water (up to four to six gallons) to dissolve the chemical and create a solution.
  • Then, immerse your beer bottles in the water and soak for about an hour or two – oxygen bubbles released will lift labels off your beer bottles.
  • Use steel wool to scrape off labels and glue that remain stuck on your beer bottles.
  • Rinse naked bottles without labels with warm water, dry with a towel, and let them drain.

– Baking Powder

Baking powder or soda bicarbonate

Instead of dishwashing soap, use baking powder or soda bicarbonate to remove slightly stubborn labels from beer bottles. The chemical reaction between baking soda and water easily loosens the glue that attaches the labels to the bottles.

To effectively remove beer bottle labels with baking powder, you just need to:

  • Fully immerse your bottles in the solution for about half an hour. You’ll need about 16 tablespoons of baking powder per gallon of water to get your desired results.
  • Then, gently remove the labels from the bottles.

– Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)

PBW is an alkali cleaner for glass jars and bottles. It’s also effective at removing screen-printed labels – they’re directly stuck onto bottles, and thus tough to peel off.

To remove beer bottle labels with PBW, you should: 

  • Add two ounces of PBW to a gallon of water to create a solution and immerse your bottles in the water and soak overnight; most labels will come off on their own.
  • Scrub off remaining residues on the bottles to completely remove the labels.

– Sta San

This cleaning solution doubles as a sanitizer for home and commercial use in breweries. Unlike OxiClean and baking soda, the acid-based solution is stronger and more effective at removing beer bottle labels.

Although the solution is stainless and odorless, it can impact the taste and aroma of your beer because it contains phosphoric acid. The soaking solution remains effective for about four days if kept in a sealed container to ensure that its pH remains three or lower. Moreover, the Sta San solution is also eco-friendly and safe for humans.

To remove beer bottle labels using Sta San:

  • You’ll need half a cup of the chemical to mix with a gallon of water.
  • Immerse your bottles in it and let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Scrape off remaining labels, if any, and rinse them thoroughly before drying them.

– Ammonia

Ammonia is stronger than baking soda, dishwashing soap, PBW, and Sta San. Wear protective goggles, gloves, and a facemask when using ammonia to protect yourself from gassing or burns, if you use it.

You also need to use the solution outdoors or in a well-ventilated room – the chemical is harsh and powerful but safe for home use.

To remove beer bottle labels using ammonia:

  • Add half a cup of ammonia to a bucket filled with water.
  • Submerge your beer bottles in the water, cover the bucket, and let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Ammonia solution will dissolve all the labels off your bottles, eliminating the need to scrub off residues.
  • Rinse the bottles thoroughly to remove all traces of ammonia.
  • Never mix ammonia with bleach or other chemicals to prevent the production of toxic gas.

2. Steaming

Steam can also help get rid of labels off your beer bottles. This method is feasible if you only intend to remove labels off a few beer bottles, maybe one or two.

Hold your beer bottles over a boiling kettle to loosen the labels for removal. You can also use a large pot with a colander or a steamer basket, placing it over the boiling water surface. Cap your bottles, if possible, and let the labels steam for about 30 minutes.

The steam melts the glue holding the labels, enabling them to come off easily with some help. Use protective gloves and warm water when rinsing your bottles to prevent scolding and breakages.

3. Dishwashing

Fill your dishwasher with beer bottles and choose the hottest cycle to use with an oxygen-based detergent or one that releases lots of bubbles. You would need to run two cycles to completely remove labels and glue off your bottles.

The labels can block the outlets of some dishwasher models and thus this method requires lots of caution. Clean out your dishwasher when done to remove all paper labels floating in the machine.

4. Baking

You can heat your bottles in an oven or barbeque grill until all the label glue unsticks as well. Although an oven can accommodate a large batch of beer bottles at once, there’s the risk of your bottles breaking at extremely high temperatures, so be wary of that before trying this method.

5. Microwaving

You can remove labels off non-exploding glass using a microwave. Bottles made of exploding glass can pose a safety risk, so check them before microwaving them. If they are microwave-safe, you can place them in there for one minute, and scrub or peel label off beer bottle.

6. Hairdryer

A hairdryer with an extremely hot setting can also help remove labels from your beer bottles. Focus the heat on the labels and peel or scrape them off as the glue melts. However, this method is time-consuming.

7. Peeling

Some labels don’t require soaking to be removed from bottles, so you can easily peel them off. However, you may still need to scrape off residues which may end up being time-consuming.

8. Scraping and Scrubbing

If all the techniques at your disposal fail to remove beer labels, you may opt to scrape and scrub them off your bottles. Although this technique is often used with most soaking methods to remove residues on bottles, it works on its own as well.

Use a razor blade or steel wool with some elbow grease to remove stubborn beer labels. This method is recommended for extremely sticky and tough labels. However, we do recommend that you avoid removing labels that may require scraping and scrubbing to ensure that your bottles don’t get scratches on the surface.

How to Remove Beer Bottle Labels: The General Process for Removing Labels

Whichever method above you select to remove beer labels, you can follow the general process below:

– Collect empty beer bottles

Collection of empty beer bottles

Find and gather the empty glass bottles you want to use for holding your homemade beer. Make sure that your bottles have no twist-off tops to ensure airtight seals. Avoid bottles with sticker wraps or labels on them because they’re time-consuming and difficult to remove.

– Soak your bottles

Get enough warm water and your choice of method for removing labels. Create a solution with your chemical of choice and immerse your bottles for soaking.

You’ll need a bucket, sink, or bathtub to soak your bottles – whichever container you pick should be the ideal size to submerge them. If you intend to use your sink, place a drain screen to prevent paper labels that come off from blocking your drainage system.

Let your bottles soak accordingly, from 12 to 48 hours to ensure that the labels come off easily and you won’t need prolonged scrubbing to eliminate any residues.

– Remove beer labels

Get rid of labels off your bottles after soaking them. Although some labels will come off during the soaking period, others may need some scrubbing or scraping with an abrasive sponge to remove residues. The longer the soaking period, the easier the labels come off.

– Rinse your beer bottles clean

Use fresh water from a running tap to thoroughly clean your beer bottles. If you used chemicals in your cleaning solution, rinse your bottles twice or thrice for a thorough clean. Rinse both the inside and outside of your bottles, removing all remaining sediments.

Inspect your bottles to ensure they’re sparkling clean with no residues on them. Use a brush with bristles to break any tough sediments and rinse thoroughly. Finally, wipe your bottles with a towel and let them drain off the water to dry.

– Put your bottles into use

With your bottles clean and unlabeled, sanitize them and begin the bottling process. Learn how to bottle beer at home to ensure you store your drink properly. You can even share the homemade beer with your family and friends, or use the bottles for other purposes, such as DIY home crafts.


Beer bottles with lables

Here are all the techniques we presented in this article that can help you in removing beer bottle labels:

  • Soaking is the best way to remove labels from beer bottles. You can use a soapy solution to soak your bottles in. Alternatively, you can use a chemical solution, but you have to wear protective gloves
  • You can also steam your beer bottles, though that only works with a few bottles at one time
  • Placing your beer bottles in a dishwasher with an oxygen-based soap, and running it twice will also work. You might still have to scrape some of the labels off, however
  • Baking or microwaving your bottles is another technique you can use, but you should be careful! Some bottles are made from exploding glass and are hazardous, so check that out before putting them anywhere near your oven or microwave
  • If you don’t want to soak them at all, you can also use your hairdryer to warm up the label and then peel it off yourself
  • The plain peeling technique works too, yet a lot of scraping would be needed afterward
  • Scraping and scrubbing is the last technique, yet we don’t recommend it, as you might get scratches on your bottles

At the end of the day, reusing bottles is cost-effective and reduces your carbon footprint. So we definitely recommend putting our article to good use and removing your beer bottle labels off!

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