The Cottage Smallholder

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How to remove glue from jam jar labels

Jam jars, labels removed - washed and ready for use

Jam jars, labels removed - washed and ready for use

Why is it always the prettiest jam jars that have the most stubborn labels and glue? There’s no chance that they would accidentally peel off and nobody would know what was inside. And when you want to fill them with your own home made preserves they cling to their gluey deposits like stubborn stains.

I’m late with my Seville orange marmalade making this year. But I have Sevilles, lemons and sugar at the ready. The real problem has been the jars. In past years I have washed them, dealt with the labels and stored them ready for use. Unfortunately last year I just washed them, put them in carrier bags and slung them in the barn.

My first problem was actually locating the jars. After a long search I discovered twelve labelled jars in a carrier bag. Soaking things in clothes washing powder or liquid has been an answer to many of my kitchen woes in the past and I thought that I’d give this a whirl with the jars. It worked a treat, computer generated labels came off and their glue was washed off easily!

However, I had nine jars with thick labels and gunky glue. The thick labels came off relatively easily but the glue was holding on tight.

Then I remembered a comment that Pat had left a comment back in August 2010 on the blog.
“To remove the sticky residue on any container after the removal of the previous label you should use ….WD40,

It claimed its use on the tin and with enough on a paper towel it makes short work of that mess I assure you !!!

Give it a go, but remember to replace the one you take from the tool box because after you see what it can be used for you won’t put it back !!”

Clearly I had used our can of  WD40 for something else and had not put it back, as it wasn’t in the tool shed. So I valiantly tried groundnut oil, cigarette lighter fuel – they were about 3% efficient. Then in frustration and despair turned out the cleaning cupboard under the sink.

I found the WD40 lurking in the murky depths! One quick spray and the glue just wiped off. Our can of WD40 will now be living permanently under the kitchen sink, having just read this extensive list of the uses of WD40 I can see how invaluable it’s going to be in the future.


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  1. Carol Ambrose

    Just tried WD40 to remove glue from jars where the labels went. It works a treat. I had soaked them and tried nail varnish remover but still couldn’t get rid of the glue . Sprayed WD40 on them, left it a couple of minutes and then just rubbed it off. Brilliant ! A wonderful tip. Thank you.

    • Fiona Nevile

      I wrote this so long ago that I’d forgotten about the WD40 trick! So thanks for the nudge 😉

  2. Thank you I found myself in a similar quandry. Under the sink for the WD 40 and hey presto clean jars.

  3. Rosalind Martin

    Thank you! Problem solved.

  4. I had taped a note on my new stainless refrigerator so my grandchildren wouldn’t stand with the doors open. I decided they were finally old enough not to do that and tore it off. To my dismay there was the residue of the tape. After doing whatever I could get my hands on I went to Pintrest and found the answer- WD-40! After getting tbe residue off I remembered seeing it in a previous post.

  5. It is effective but I hate the smell

  6. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! I bought a stainless trashcan that had a HORRIBLE sticker that was 6″x 4″. Nothing worked to get it off…until I tried the WD-40. LOVED IT! After hours of nothing working, this worked in less than 5 minutes. Thanks!

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