How-to: Prep Reclaimed Glass Jars for Crafting

glass jars

We love a reclaimed glass craft project around here, but before you can paint, decoupage, or otherwise transform your lovely jar, you need to clean it.

How many times has this happened to you? You find yourself with a pretty, empty glass jar or bottle. Maybe it’s from some nice chutney or a fancy juice you picked up in your travels. You send it through the dishwasher, and when it comes out, it…well, it stinks. While glass is not porous, it is good at absorbing smells, especially if the contents of your jar or bottle were acidic at all.

The other problem with many glass jars is those sticky labels. Sometimes, they practically fall off after a run through the dishwasher, but some companies get way too enthusiastic with the glue, leaving you with a stuck on label that’s a complete eyesore.

Luckily, there are simple tricks to take care of both of these problems!

The Stink Problem

The first thing to do when you’re reclaiming a jar is to clean it. You can either run it through the dishwasher or use a scrubby brush, soap, and hot water to give it a good washing.

If you already washed your jar, but it still has a residual smell, it may seem unusable. Never fear! You can de-stink a smelly jar in seconds with just a bit of baking soda and water. The baking soda is abrasive and absorbent, so it will clean the inside of your jar and absorb the oils that are making it stinky. Here’s how to do it.

1. Put about 1 teaspoon of baking soda into your jar.

2. Add enough water so that your jar is about 1″ full.

3. Shake the jar vigorously for a few minutes, then pour out the baking soda mixture.

4. Add 1″ of water to the jar again and give it a good shake to get any baking soda residue out of there.

5. Pour the water out, dry your jar, and it’s ready to use!

Removing That Sticky Label

There are a couple of options for getting that sticky label off of your jar. You can buy a natural product like Goo Gone, or you can make your own! If you opt to buy Goo Gone, just pick these directions up at step two.

1. In a small jar–not the one you’re cleaning–combine 1/2 cup olive oil with around 2-4 drops of orange essential oil. Shake well to combine.

2. Hold the glass jar with the sticky label over the sink, and drizzle your oil mixture over the label to saturate it.

3. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, and the label should come away easily when you rub it with a damp rag. If the company who put the label on your jar was really enthusiastic about glue, repeat steps two and three until the label is history.

Have you guys run into other challenges with preparing your reclaimed glass jars for crafting? Share your questions and tips in the comments!

{Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by jgh_photo}

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .


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