Kitchen

Removing sticky labels

To recycle a jar to make salad dressing, you cover the jar and then shake it to emulsify the dressing.
To recycle a jar to make salad dressing, you cover the jar and then shake it to emulsify the dressing.PHOTO: ST FILE

I have seen my colleagues in the art department use lighter fluid to remove adhesive, but I never thought I would need to try that.

Nowadays, I am obsessive about labels, remnants of old labels or even the sticky residue left behind on used jars. You see, I recycle all my jars, either for jams or for storing stuff, especially salad dressings. You cover the jar and then shake it to emulsify the dressing.

At the end of it all, I throw away the bottle so I don't have to wash it out. I used to soak the jars in water to try to get the labels off but, these days, they stay stubbornly stuck.

So I am always on the lookout for stuff that will remove sticky goo.

There are products such as Goo Gone, but I do not always have it on hand. Still, I always have orange and lemon peel, which also works.

The limonene in citrus fruits cuts through the stickiness. You can also buy cleaning products with orange or lemon in them.

I keep rubbing alcohol on hand as well - you can get it at the pharmacy. I dab it on cotton wool (saved from vitamin bottles) to remove stickiness from labels, and also to remove wording left by felt-tip marker pens on containers.

I have discovered that WD-40 (a brand of penetrant spray), vinegar and nail varnish remover work too.

But be careful when using them on absorbent surfaces such as fabric, plastic or wood. And wait a few minutes after soaking or applying before rubbing off.

This should remove most of the adhesive, but you will still need something like an old bank card to scrape the surface totally clean - don't use your fingernails.

Sylvia Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2015, with the headline 'Removing sticky labels'. Print Edition | Subscribe