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How to Remove Stickers and Labels (from anything!)

The first step with upcycling any project is to remove the labels. Sadly, this can also be the most frustrating! Here are my three top tips to remove those pesky labels — and believe me, I chose the WORST ones to show you! But — I won the adhesive war, and so you can you. Read on to learn the fastest and easiest ways to:

  • Remove stickers from boxes
  • Remove labels from glass bottles
  • Remove painted labels from whisky bottles

These tips will change your DIY game!

How to remove stickers from cigar boxes

There’s lots of cute cigar box crafts but the first step for any of your projets is to get rid of those big sticky labels. If you try to decoupage or paint over them, you’ll be left with a raised surface and it just won’t be as nice a finish. If you try to pick them off, the stickers are going to tear and it’s going to look worse or you’ll spend hours trying to pick off the remains with your fingernails and it is going to drive you crazy and ruin your manicure! Yep, I’ve done it the hard way, but now I am an expert cigar box sticker remover and you’re about to be too. 

Cigar boxes usually have several stickers, so starting with the large on at the front, work on it in sections. Use a heat gun to blow hot air over the sticker in sections.The heat is activating the adhesive to make this easier to pull off.

1. Going from left to right, heat the first section, then peel back until you can feel the glue at the back has not loosened its grip. You don’t want the sticker to tear, so stop when you feel resistance and use the heat gun again.

2. If the sticker starts to tear on an edge, go back and gently pull even it up, sort of like you would do with packing tape, rather than have it split.

 If you don’t have a heat gun, an iron will work too, unless it’s a curved area. A heat gun is better where you are trying to get stickers off a curved surface.

If you see the sticker bubbling up a little, you know the adhesive is releasing. Just be patient and take turns applying heat, and peeling.

Note:  The back of cigar boxes are often finished with a paper border as well as having a sticker. Applying heat can also lift the paper border so be careful not to blow the heat gun over the paper border.

Cigar boxes often have a little flap on the inside. The heat gun will loosen the adhesive that is holding that flap to the box. Then finally check if there are any stickers you want to remove on the inside of the box.

Eh voila! That is how you remove stickers from cigar boxes!


Glass craft - glasses from wine bottles


Remove labels from glass bottles

There are a ton of things you can do with bottles but before you can make wine bottle glasses or try out other wine bottle crafts, you have to remove those pesky labels. The heat gun method will work too but it does leave a sticky residue.Another way to remove labels from glass is to soak the bottle in warm, sudsy water.

I put a little detergent in the sink and fill it with enough hot water to cover the bottle as it’s laying on its side. (I don’t know if the detergent is necessary, but it does help to clean the inside of the bottle too.) Fill the bottle with water so it doesn’t float. Leave the bottle in there as long as it takes for the water to cool. When you are ready, just pick at the corner of the label with your fingernail and it should just peel off like magic.

On the bottle I used as an example, there was no gummy leftover from the adhesive but if your bottle does not come out completely clean, then a rub with Goo Gone on a paper towel will get rid of any residue.


Remove painted letters from bottles

Painted letters on bottle

So only one more step before you graduate this master class in removing sticky labels – getting the painted letters off glass bottles. You might try scraping them off with a knife but that’s time-consuming, ear cingy and could scrape the glass or yourself, so let’s look at the easy way.

Lay the bottle down in a shallow dish, and pour in enough distilled white vinegar to cover the surface of the bottle that you are working on. In this case, you are not aiming to submerge the bottle, only to target that one surface. Leave it to soak for a few hours and the letters should wipe right off. If they don’t wipe right off, let them soak a bit longer.

If, like the bottle I used in the video, is not ready to give up the printed letters in that time, go on and let it soak overnight. They’ll rub right off in the morning.

Crafting Tips

Removing stickers and labels has got to be one of the most frustrating tasks for new crafters but once you know how it’s done, it easy, right? I’d love to hear your best tips for label removals!

Join my text family! You can text me with crafty questions, and get my craft planner for FREE! Send me a message at 214.609.1648.


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