This solution came about as we were trying to get label residue off of empty spice bottles for this project. We first removed as much of the paper or plastic labels has possible, then soaked the bottles in hot soapy water for a few hours, and most of the remaining label adhesive glue residue came off easily.
For the 25% that didn’t clean up nicely, we tried soaking the remaining glue residue with either vegetable oil or rubbing alcohol soaked cotton balls for about 20 minutes. That, along with a little elbow grease, removed the remaining glue residue from most of the bottles.
But there were still a few bottles that had adhesive residue left over that seemed resistant even with trying Goo Gone and WD-40 (the 3 bottles in the back of the above photo). We decided to not use those bottles except as tests for applying new labels.
That’s how we accidentally ended up finding something that worked. In making a label waterproof, we placed an oversized piece of Crystal Clear Gorilla tape over a paper label before applying it to the spice bottle. In the process of repositioning the taped label to the right position, we noticed the tape had removed the adhesive residue.
So we grabbed a bigger piece of the tape and placed it directly onto the residue-covered bottle and were able to lift off almost all of the glue residue.
Here’s a photo of the tape initially applied over a bottle. You can see the off-white film on the bottle, which is the label adhesive that wouldn’t come off when we tried other methods.
And here’s the result after we lifted off the tape. This is a different bottle, but we kept using the same section of tape.
Another bonus was that the tape trick seemed to work even after multiple uses. As you can see by the photo, the adhesive residue on the tape has built up from using it multiple times before it stopped working.