Raise your hand if you have bought a glass bottle because you loved the shape & planned to reuse it but then couldn’t remove the dang printed label. Right there with you!
Exhibit A: These super cute milk bottles.
Hangry and not thinking at full capacity, I bought them without realizing the label was printed on the glass. Not just screen printed either. Oh no. These things were on there tight. Nothing suggested online worked. The labels just laughed and laughed at all my attempts.
Steel wool & soap: Nope
Acetone: Go paint your nails lady
Polishing paste: stinky but nada
“My fumes will definitely kill you” paint remover: flipped me the bird
That’s until I stumbled on a video where the gentleman was able to remove the printed label on glass by soaking it in apple cider vinegar over several hours.
Acid is the solution.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have experimented with a lot of acidic solutions to quickly rust my new galvanized bucket and watering pail.
I know my acids, let me tell ya.
Knowing that apple cider vinegar is quite a weak acid meant I could get the same results faster if I used a stronger acid.
BUT, it couldn’t be so strong that it was dangerous for me to handle or etched the glass into a hazy mess. So hydrochloric acid was definitely out.
How to Remove Ink Label from Glass
This is where the Goldie Locks of acids comes in.
Citric acid is strong enough to cut through baked on grease in your oven but safe enough to use to can tomatoes.
This is what my bottle looked like before using citric acid to remove the digitally printed ink from the back. There is some removal already going on towards the bottom from when I used the citric acid to take off the front label & logo.
In a small non metallic bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of citric acid in 2 tablespoons of very hot water. Mix in just enough flour to make a thick paste.
Apply to desired area and let sit 5-10 minutes.
After the paste has hardened and dried a bit, scrape or rinse the paste off the glass surface. Then wipe the printed ink away with a damp paper towel or microfiber cloth. The ink should come away immediately and completely within a minute of scrubbing.
Now go forth and remove all those ugly logos!
Let me know how it goes for you and how many bottles/jar you saved! If you have any questions, comment below.
This worked perfectly! No stinky fumes. No scrubbing at all. Just washed right off. Thank you.
Yay!!! It’s like magic, right? I actually need to buy more citric acid but everyone seems to be out now that people are into canning.
DAMITRIA MORRIS says
I purchase it from bulkapothy. It’s like $16 for 22lbs so I know it’s much cheaper for smaller quantities.
Rene Woodward says
I’m going to try this. If it’s that easy, I’ll be so happy. I will let you know how it goes.
If the citric acid doesn’t work, which it doesn’t sometimes, use Flitz polish. It’s my favorite for removing logos from stainless steel & acrylic. It doesn’t smell like other polishes & works ridiculously fast. Pure sorcery.
Kelly G says
I tried this and it didn’t work, I’m so bummed! I wonder if the citric acid I used just isn’t strong enough. I left it on for hours after the first couple of tests yielded nothing and I got a tiny bit of ink residue on my paper towel, but those darn logos are still on there. I’m going to see if I can find a stronger acidic cleanser (I read that Star San, used for home brewing, might do the trick – we’ll see). I’m not giving up yet!
It works on some but not others, & I can’t figure out the difference. I tried brand new citric acid on a Bombay Sapphire bottle yesterday & it laughed at me. My handy dandy Flitz didn’t work either so I’m going to try some other things & I’ll report back.
There are many methods for printing on glass & I have a feeling the tough to remove with citric acid ones are actually etched onto the glass, especially if it’s white.
Michelle Yordi says
Did you ever find a solution? I googled this because of the beautiful Bombay Sapphire bottle!
Unfortunately, no. I believe they use a thermal printer that applies molten glass bonding the white “printed glass” to the blue.
It’s a shame because it’s really a beautiful blue bottle.
This looks very promising! Is it safe to use on frosted glass ? Thanks!
It should work great!
I had to leave the mixture on overnight after two failed attempts to completely remove the white label from the back. I had an interesting and exciting result. The bottles I am trying to clean are a very pretty sapphire blue with a white and a different blue on the label itself (white wording, blue leaves). It removed the white from the front, but left the pretty blue leaves! Thank you for the tip!
Heck ya! That’s awesome! I love when experiments turn out like that.
J K Rector says
I couldn’t find citric acid so I bought a lemon and it really did the trick!
Did you juice the lemon first or just slice it in half & lay it on top?
works perfectly also with balsamico.
Yay! How long did it take to remove with the balsamic vinegar?
Didn’t work for me ☹️
I have tried all the other methods too, but nothing has worked… I’m so gutted 😞 because I really wanted to have the wording removed…
Hydrochloric acid will not etch glass Maybe you are thinking of HYDROFLUORIC acid with will actually melt glass. Concentrated hydrochloric acid is safe to handle with gloves and glasses and is far more effective than citric acid for removing paint.
Hydrochloric acid, the chemical used in heavy duty toilet bowl cleans, is just too dangerous for my comfort. It can be safely used if you wear chemical resistant gloves, full safety glasses, & long sleeves. Citric acid doesn’t require suiting up or risk of major chemical burns.
Thanks for this great idea! Unfortunately, my first attempt failed on a particularly tough project. So I gave it another try, leaving the citric acid paste on the glass bottle overnight which didn’t work either. Next, I decided to heat some water in a glass measuring cup, make a SATURATURATED citric acid solution, then place the bottle inside the measuring cup filled with the acidic water (enough to cover the paint I wanted to remove). I then placed it back into the microwave for one minute, rinsed the bottle in cool water, and used a salt/baking soda mix to scrub the paint. It came right off! I gave the bottle a 2nd acid/heat treatment to remove any faint remnants of the painted lettering. It cleaned up to my satisfaction.
What was citric acid to water ratio? I need to try this on some of my more stubborn bottles.
I stirred citric acid powder into water (room temperature) until no more would dissolve. I didn’t actually measure the ratio of citric acid to water, but aimed to make a very concentrated acid solution and am guessing that I used 3 Tbs in 1/3 cup water. A quick internet search on the saturation point of citric acid: Combine ~45 grams (approx 3 Tbs) citric acid with 50 ml of water (between 1/4 and 1/3 cup). For non-chemists out there, a “saturated solution” is the point reached when no more solid (citric acid powder) can be dissolved in water. If you heat the water you can create a “super-saturated” solution (more citric acid will dissolve in the hot water), but you may notice that crystals precipitate out of solution as the water cools. One caution, I would not leave your glass bottle in the acidic water any longer than needed (mine was in the solution for just a couple of minutes) as acid can “etch” the surface of glass which may not be the look you want! Thanks again for this idea and wishing you all the best in trying this modification 🙂
Maureen Holland says
I had three bottles in a set with very different results. Most of the printing on two bottles dissolved with white vinegar after several hours. The printing on the other bottle (which was identical to the other two) did not budge after overnight in the vinegar. CLR and hydrochloric acid did nothing. I then tried Whink rust stain remover. I put a piece of paper towel with Whink, covered with plastic wrap and after several hours it did remove the printing.The active ingredient in Whink is hydrofluoric acid.
Worked like a charm fir me! Thanks!
Clorice Hernandez-Clubb says
I want to try this but am now sure if it will work on frosted bottles. I want to remove the print but leave the frost intact. Will this harm frosted bottles?
It shouldn’t hurt frosted glass.
This worked very well!!
I used the paste on an empty frosted glass candle jar… using half the recipe and leaving it on for only a few minutes… I was left with perfectly clean frosted glass.
So pleased to have found this idea. Thank you!
Worked perfectly on the back of the bottle, didn’t work at all on the front of the bottle.
Whitnee Layne Gaston says
Thank you for your article. It opened other avenues!! <3
I didn't have any citric acid (I will be getting some) but I do have ascorbic acid. Thinking and hoping that it was the same thing… I googled to see similarities and, they are not the same. "Scientifically, their chemical structures are slightly different, which leads to different functionality. Citric acid is more acidic than ascorbic acid."
I say all this to say the ascorbic acid worked!!just had to scrap a little harder and or leave on a little longer. So if you happen to have some ascorbic acid or maybe even some vitamin C pills laying around crush up a few pills and see what it does!
So anyone know how to remove it off plastic pet 1 ??
Have you tried using Everclear? It’s my go to for removing print from plastic. Acetone etches plastics so be sure to stay away from it.
PHS in NC says
Thanks for pointing me to the acid solution! A friend of mine is collecting wine bottles to build a sunscreen wall for her patio, and I had a pretty blue bottle with the label printed directly on the glass. I had a squirt bottle of lime juice in the fridge, so I put a doubled paper towel over the label, saturated it with juice, and waited an hour or so. The print came right off – woohoo!
I was in a bind for some glass low balls and all I could find locally had design on them. After trying every stripper and thinner in the shop I went online. After a bunch of wrong information I finally came across this post. 20 minutes and some apple cider vinegar and the day was saved. Thank you.
Your milk bottles turned out very cute indeed! Ever tried to add a pump and use them for handsoap? They look nice and plump, so they would be stable. (Sorry if that’s elsewhere on your blog…)
What I wanted to ask you though, did you ever have any luck getting the print off of the Bombay Sapphire bottle? I have one here and it’s laughing at me too >:-(
Happy crafting and thanks in advance either way,
I use my milk bottles for storing my half and half but soap dispenser is a cute idea.
I never got the Bombay Sapphire insignia off. Upon inspection, it looks like they used a printing technology that fuses the white glass “ink” to the glass bottle. I ended up sanding it off but that just made the area frosted. It’s really quite disappointing bc the blue of the bottle is really quite beautiful.
Oh no, how disappointing!
Thanks for your quick answer though.
Have a wonderful day,
Punkin Jackson says
I think I’m confused. I did the mixture but then you said add just enough flour to make it thick. Like ACTUAL FLOUR? Or am I supposed to add more citric acid? Bc at this point my mixture Is watery from disolved acid in water. HELP lol
I’ve done both but the flour keeps the citric acid moist for longer while 100% citric acid dries out and hardens quickly. The flour is there for moisture retention only.
thank you so much for this! i bought EXACTLY the same bottles!
Haha – I googled how to remove the paint from exactly these bottles and you came right up…Magic indeed! Thank you so much for an extremely easy and useful tip!
Ha! They really are great looking bottles.
I had some growlers from Granite City that I wanted to use for serving water but wanted the logos off. Tried several other things then found this. IT WORKED!!
I had to let it sit for several hours but it did come off. It was clear where I missed an edge of the logo because it wouldn’t budge when the other stuff came right off. I used a razor blade to scrape the logos off.
Thanks for your great directions and all the other comments. I’m thawing a lemon now to try it on the back of the bottle 🙂
Kaoru Sakima says
It worked well! I finally got a success for removing printed logo – 2015 onto flute glasses. I appreciate your blog very much.
Yay! I believe this calls for a glass of champagne to celebrate!
This is nothing short of miraculous! I needed clear bottles for centerpieces at my sons wedding. Most of the bottles had paper labels,which came off with varying degrees of effort. But, I had some whiskey bottles that were painted labels and they just wouldn’t budge. I tried absolutely everything. Then I found this post and it was phenomenal! In just a short amount of time and mostly just a little scrubbing, they melted away! I can’t thank you enough, for posting this process!!
You are a genius. I FULLY believed this was not going to work on the glasses I have. Someone else told me rubbing alcohol and elbow grease. That and a razor did NOTHING. Tried this and it just wiped right off!! Thank you so much!
Will this work on gold print as well as on trophy glasses
I haven’t tried so I can’t say for sure. Report back if you end up experimenting with it and tell us how it goes.
I have these exact bottles and was gonna toss them because I couldn’t get the writing off. Can’t wait to try this!
They are so cute and one of my favorite to reuse over and over again.
Christie LeBeau says
Didn’t work for me – tried two times with the 10 minutes suggestion, did not work, not even a little bit. Then tried leaving it on over night, still nothing. At the moment I am trying the apple cider vinegar from the video you included.
It did get off the red stamp, but not the lettering.
Tee Bee says
I have a beautiful cobalt blue wine bottle that had white, and a tiny bit of blue, painted and apparently baked on label. Ugh! I tried my googlefoo and your article popped up! I didn’t have citric acid but I read in one of the comments someone tried vinegar. That I definitely had! I wrapped the bottle in a single layer of paper towel, put it in a baggie, and poured in enough vinegar to soak the paper towel; then left it overnight and with the tiniest bit of scrubbing with the paper towel, off came ALL the paint! Yippee!!! Now I can enjoy more of that wine AND get a pretty bottle out of the deal! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article! Have a Great day!
I literally just bought three of those bottles to use for my juicing. I actually thought I would just scrape it off, but nope. I was just going to leave it and low and behold I find you. I found you in one search. I will be buying this tomorrow. Anyway thank you!!!
Rohnda Venturino says
Worked on a vodka, Svedka bottle. It is a clear bottle, blue background with white wording. The white came off the first try. It took about 4 applications because that blue was stubborn. But got it all off. It will make a perfect “mother jar,” for my vanilla. For those having a hard time finding citric acid look in the canning section of your grocery store or hardware store. Ball is the brand I used.
Citric acid is pretty easy to find in store unless it’s tomato canning season. It’s really great for removing stains from silk too. Deodorant stains on everything. It’s really just a great item to have on hand all the time.
I actually found something that works much better….. Zep acidic toilet bowl cleaner. (It can be found at Home Depot or Lowe’s)
You put a piece of toilet paper over the printing, then dribble the cleaner soaking the paper. Leave it for about an hour, then the paint will easily scrub away with a metal scrubbie.
You have to be incredibly careful using this as it can give you terrible chemical burns. You also risk etching the glass with the acid or scratching it with steel wool.
I’m glad it worked for you though! Just be safe.