Removing Sticky Labels with Rubbing Alcohol

by Jessica Clifton

It seems that everything we buy nowadays always brings those annoying sticky labels that are impossible to remove. And even if you manage to peel off the label, then there’s the problem of the sticky residue left behind. Unfortunately, warm soapy water is not enough in most cases and you may spend many hours trying to clear small pieces of paper with your nails.

When you’re tired of trying to remove every label with your bear hands, try this:

How to remove sticky labels

  1. Discard as much label as possible with your fingers, without scratching the object.
  2. Wet the remaining label and wipe with a soft cloth.
  3. Depending on the size of the label, either dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol for a small label; or pour a small amount into a bowl and use with a sponge or cloth for large label. In either case, gently rub the sticky residue.
  4. Continue to rub the label until it’s saturated with rubbing alcohol. After a few seconds, the rubbing alcohol should start to break down the label and dissolve the stickiness.
  5. Wipe object to check if label has been completely removed. Repeat step 3 and 4 if necessary.
  6. Once label is removed, wash surface with warm soapy water and dry.

How does it work?

Rubbing alcohol refers to a 70% denatured alcohol solution, available at ReAgent, usually involving ethanol mixed with methanol. It has many applications, relying on its antiseptic and disinfectant properties; as well as a general use household cleaner.

This product is effective in removing glue residues left behind from labels as common adhesives used are soluble in alcohol. As a result of soaking the label in rubbing alcohol, the glue is completely dissolved and can easily be wiped away. Water is also considered a solvent, but in this case, it doesn’t have the right properties to dissolve sticky residues.

ReAgents E25 Label Machine
We recently invested into a new labeling machine. If you want to know more about the new equipment please click on the image above.

Final considerations

A few last thoughts about using rubbing alcohol to remove labels:

  • It may not be suited for every item, so especially with delicate objects, it’s better to test the effect of the rubbing alcohol in an inconspicuous location. This is particularly important in objects with painted designs, as the alcohol may also remove the paint.
  • We recommend always using rubbing alcohol in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing the fumes.
  • Lastly, containers must be kept away from flames or combustible materials, as this is a highly flammable product.

Speaking of labels… did you hear about our brand new AL Tech ALwrap Labelling Machine?


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