Non-Toxic Adhesive Removal

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About: Hi, I'm Jen! In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, and cake decorator. I also can't stop taking photographs! I have a genuine love and appreciation for all things creative and handmade.

Does anyone else know the pure frustration that comes when you want to reuse a jar (or container of some sort) but when you peel off the label you can't get the sticky adhesive off underneath? This drives me insane!

I recently came across some spice jars with labels on the glass and the plastic lids. I figured I would just soak them for a long time and all the labels and sticky adhesive would come right off. Wrong! This was not the case at all, and after scrubbing for an extraordinarily long time, I knew it was a lost cause to continue with the soaking method.

My husband suggested using xylene, but since I was going to be using these specific jars for food I didn't want to use something so toxic, especially on plastic lids that could absorb the odor or chemical. (I also know xylene isn't food safe, so I threw that option out the window.) ;)

I started researching how to remove stubborn adhesive and found a million different suggestions/solutions from milk to rubbing alcohol to canola oil. I decided to try a bunch of common kitchen ingredients to see what would work best. Keep reading to find out!

Step 1: Put to the Test!

In my attempt to remove adhesive in a non-toxic manner I tried: Jif peanut butter, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil, and natural peanut butter.

I left all of the lids to sit for about 15 minutes (because that's what I read to do!) and tried to scrape some of the adhesive off. NONE of these methods worked....well, not at first!

I got frustrated that they didn't work because I really love the jars and lids and wanted to be able to use them! Anyway, I got busy with daily life and forgot about the lids entirely. The next morning I remembered them and looked at them in disgust! But...to my amazement, some of the methods worked, and worked REALLY well!!

Step 2: Rubbing Alcohol & Vinegar

Neither rubbing alcohol nor vinegar worked at all. They actually made things worse by drying the adhesive onto the lids. Don't bother wasting your time with these!

Step 3: Peanut Butter

Jif peanut butter and natural peanut butter worked well. If you have a sticky situation any peanut butter will work to dissolve adhesive and since most people have peanut butter in their kitchen pantry it's a good option. (it's not the best option though!)

I was able to easily scrape the adhesive off with my fingernail and wash the lid clean with soap and water.

Step 4: Olive Oil

Olive oil worked okay. I had to scrape for quite a while to get the adhesive off but in the end the lid came clean and will work if olive oil is all you have in your kitchen.

Step 5: Coconut Oil - WINNER!

Coconut oil was the clear winner for removing sticky adhesive. As you can see in the photo the coconut oil not only dissolved the adhesive but allowed the leftover label to come off in a chunk instead of having to scrape over and over.

Step 6: Saving the Fails

I saved the failed attempts (rubbing alcohol and vinegar) by rubbing coconut oil on the lids and letting them sit overnight. They came clean like a dream!

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    48 Discussions

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    instructor12345

    Tip 5 months ago

    Pull the label off and use a eraser to take off the goo left behind. Done

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    grannyjones

    1 year ago

    Butter works quite well. I know this because we had a cat that pulled down a fly paper strip, which tangled with his coat and was pulling out clumps of fur. I rubbed butter into the mess, which neutralized the adhesive. We toweled him off, leaving only a little butter, which he was content to remove himself.

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    mario59

    1 year ago

    WD-40 works for me in zillion of cases...after one can soap & rinse well..

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    GADiltz

    1 year ago

    The coconut oil works pretty well on medical tape adhesive. I recently had surgery and had to change the bandage often, the tape build up and build up and build up the thing that worked best though was good ol fashioned Crisco. Coconut oil made it very sticky and messy Crisco seem to dissolve it better easier to move when all was said and done kind of like you're moving pitch and tar and your skin.

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    PeterMerc

    1 year ago

    PeterMerc

    I use white spirit (also known as turps substitute, used for thinning paint). Dab it on with a kitchen (paper) towel, leave for a few minutes, the label should peel off. If the goo underneath is thick, scrape it off with a razor blade or craft knife blade (held parallel to the axis of the jar). Wipe off the remaining residue with white spirit/paper towel. Any residual white spirit evaporates fairly quickly but I put the jar through the dishwaher afterwards to make sure it is really clean and no smell.

    Iagree with comments about avoiding Xylene.

    2 replies
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    GavinF2PeterMerc

    Reply 1 year ago

    White Spirit will also melt a number of different plastic so is best avoided.

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    PeterMercGavinF2

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, fair point. I tend to re-use glass bottles rather than plastic, so no problem there. Having said that, white spirit does not affect a fair number of plastics, worth a cautious try if the glue proves tenacious.

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    tzny

    1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing. I've had great success with food-grade mineral oil - it removes adhesive residue like a charm. You can also use it to maintain wooden cutting boards or utensils. IKEA has the best price for a good size bottle.

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    cutshopguy

    1 year ago

    There is a product we have available her in New Zealand, called Desolvit, which is citrus oil - the sort of stuff you get out of orange or lemon skins. Completely food safe and works really well, in minutes.

    1 reply
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    njwinscutshopguy

    Reply 1 year ago

    Desolvit is less than 20% orange oil. The rest of the stuff is 'liquid hydrocarbon' and alcohols. See the MDS

    http://desolvit.com.au/MSDS%20-%20De-Solv-It%20ACW...

    I'm not convinced it's food safe.

    I use a product called 'Solvit' which is just orange oil and ethanol. MDS here:

    https://www.lightningcleans.com.au/content/msds/So...

    Much safer to my way of thinking and smells much better too. A lot of the 'orange oil' products have liquid hydrocarbons in them so you have to be careful.

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    michaell_d

    1 year ago

    Can it also remove the residue left by the Gorilla Superglue on my cars dashboard?

    2 replies
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    wold630michaell_d

    Reply 1 year ago

    I don't know, but if you try it please let us know how it works!

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    michaell_dwold630

    Reply 1 year ago

    Peanut Butter did help. The stain/residue is still there but now it's less noticiable.

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    arpruss

    1 year ago

    Technically, rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) is toxic. But it evaporates well.

    1 reply
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    GavinF2arpruss

    Reply 1 year ago

    Everything is toxic if you are exposed to enough of it.

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    vbliss

    1 year ago

    Pinterest has a lifehack suggesting the following: fill sink with enough hot water to cover the jars you want to remove labels from. Add one full scoop of Oxyclean per full sink). Let jars sit for about an hour. The labels slide right off. The only labels that didn't come off cleanly were ones I tried to remove before using this method. The residue still came off, I just had to work at it a bit. This even worked for those hard plastic labels (like on Yankee Candle jars).

    1 reply
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    GavinF2vbliss

    Reply 1 year ago

    If you soak a label in clean water long enough that it has wet the inside of the entire label then it will come off and whatever is left will come off by dabbing at it with the sticky part of the label you just removed.

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    herby325

    1 year ago

    A stamp collecting friend of mine is using "Pure Citrus Orange Air
    Freshener" (from Home Depot) to remove stamps from envelopes. I have
    used this spray on all sorts of label adhesives and it works like charm,
    better than Goo-Gone. Spray it on, let sit for a couple of minutes, and
    peel it off. I tried it on all sorts of adhesive labels and it works
    like magic. Try it. The main ingredient is oil from oranges. Totally
    natural.

    1 reply
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    GavinF2herby325

    Reply 1 year ago

    Citrus oil is also marketed as bong cleaner around my way.

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    John Ciccarelli

    1 year ago

    I'm hoping to do this (remove adhesive labels) from over 20 large (4'x8') sheets of plastic (Lexan, acrylic, ...) that I recently obtained. The sheets have been stored indoors for decades, so the paper+adhesive protective layer on both sides won't peel off as it would have soon after the sheets were manufactured. Does anyone have experience with any of these label remover candidates in my situation?