De-labelling bottles – An idiots guide

Whether you’re recycling bottles donated by the neighbours, or just want a particular style of beer bottle for your brew – de-labelling bottles can be a pain in the rump.

The plus side of de-labelling is you get bottles for free, there are lots of shapes and sizes available, and you can personalise them with your own labels.

I took a few pics of my last ‘de-labelling day’ which some of you might find of use – and feel free to add your own tips or tricks!

Here I’m both cleaning and de-labelling the bottles, as they were stored away for some time.


Fill a bath tub with warm water and give the bottles a good soak for about an hour.
I add a few spoons of VWP steriliser to the water, although OXI or Milton will do just as well. Make sure that all bottles are filled, and covered with water.


You will notice that after an hour the labels will have come off the bottles to varying degrees (depends on the label type).
Some will literally slide right off, others will come off but leave a layer of glue, and others will be less forgiving.


For paper labels which don’t come off easily, a paint scraper will do the job nice and quickly.


Next, you will need to remove the layer of glue that held the label on.
Even for those bottles where the labels slip off easily, this step will help get rid of any residue.
I use a metal pot scourer, as it seems to cut through even the tackiest glue, without getting clogged up.


After you’ve removed all the residue from the outside, now it’s time to give the inside a clean.
You can do this by giving each bottle a once over with a bottle brush, making sure that no bits of paper from the labels has gotten into the bottle while sitting in the water.


Give the bottles a final rinse under the tap if required and place aside to air dry, preferably on a bottle tree if you’re got one.

We’ve had varying success with de-labelling, and some bottles just aren’t worth the effort. Unfortunately some of the nicer bottles have the toughest labels (Hobgoblin for example), but here’s a short list showing the successes of some of our de-labelling efforts – (Feel free to add to the list).

Floats off the bottle – Anything from O’Hara’s; Leffe; Fullers IPA

Requires some effort – Franziskaner; Paulaner; Erdinger; Spaten; Tyskie; Blue Moon; Hoegarden;

Forget about it – Franciscan Well (Rebel Red); Hobgoblin; Smithwicks and Smithwicks Pale Ale; Weston’s Wyld Wood Cider;


Author: Parky