Recycling Essential Oil Bottles: How to Remove the Sticky Residue

How to Remove the Sticky Residue from Essential Oil Bottles

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When Recycling Essential Oil Bottles, it’s sometimes necessary to remove the labels.  While removing the labels is easy, it can leave behind a stubborn layer of residue.  This is my favorite (easiest) way to remove that sticky residue…

Note: In the title picture above, the cleanest bottle on the right was a result of my easy method described below.  The other two bottles without labels–the ones that look cloudy–were the ones that I slaved over, trying to rub off the gunk and even rubbing essential oil into the residue.  I’m thrilled to have perfected the method and the results!  No more slaving….

How to Remove the Sticky Residue (from a glass bottle)

You will need:

  • Lemon oil (other citrus oils should work, too)
  • Dish or hand soap
  • Bowl of water
  • Non-fuzzy towel

How to Remove the Sticky Residue from Essential Oil Bottles | Yankee Homestead
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The Method:

  1. Completely remove the sticky label from the bottle(s).
  2. Prepare a bowl of warm water.
  3. Add 1-2 drops Lemon oil and a squirt or two of soap to the bowl of water; swish around.
  4. Submerge the bottles in the bowl of water.
  5. Let the bottles soak for a while.
     How to Remove the Sticky Residue from Essential Oil Bottles | Yankee Homestead
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  6. Remove one bottle at a time from the bowl and use the non-fuzzy towel to rub off the residue.
  7. Rinse and dry the bottle(s).
     How to Remove the Sticky Residue from Essential Oil Bottles | Yankee Homestead
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And that’s it!  Now you’re ready to use those clean, smooth bottles as mini vases, mini sprays and more.



How to Remove the Sticky Residue from Essential Oil Bottles
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Kathleen Henderson

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Jill on 06/04/2015 at 1:58 pm

    This looks like an easy and doable process…thanks for explaining!!

    • Kathleen on 06/04/2015 at 2:06 pm

      Jill–Yep, it’s pretty simple, and such a great way to re-use those bottles! 🙂

  2. Susan on 06/05/2015 at 2:10 am

    Hey Jill! Thanks for your amazing website and all of your posts. I have been sharing your helpful ideas for months. Quick comment. Someone messaged me about your graphic being misspelled. So, the word “bottle” says “botle” on the graphic. I told them I would mention that to you! Sorry for coming across as negative, because that’s not at all my intention because I dearly appreciate your extremely helpful posts!

    • Kathleen on 06/05/2015 at 6:15 pm

      Oh my word, Susan, thanks for pointing that out! I’m so embarrassed. I’m super-vigilant about typos and can’t believe I posted a title picture with a misspelled word. (And out of the hundreds of folks who’ve liked this post in just a few days, you’re the only one to bring it to my attention.) It’s fixed now, and I don’t think you’re negative at all. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words, and for sharing Yankee Homestead posts with your pals. And by the way, I’m Kathleen. But if you’re confusing me with Jill Winger over at The Prairie Homestead, I’ll take it as a huge compliment. 🙂

  3. Jackie on 06/12/2015 at 11:10 am

    Any essential oil will do this not just citrus oils. They are ALL powerful solvents and I have used tea tree oil and rosemary oil to do the same thing. ANY essential oil will work

    • Kathleen on 06/12/2015 at 11:52 am

      Lemon smells so good, and is one of the least expensive EOs, but it’s good to know that others will work too. Thanks, Jackie!

  4. Dee on 08/26/2015 at 5:15 pm

    I really hate to use my Lemon (or any other) EO for this type of thing because it uses too much, not to mention that there is an easier and more economical way. Yes, it’s even easier than your method, which I’ve tried, and requires minimal, if any, scrubbing. Because I don’t usually think about this until evening I end up letting the bottles sit in the solution overnight, but it can also be done in a lot less time. Here’s what I do for 10 or fewer EO [15ml] bottles.
    In 2-qt metal or glass bowl add
    2 Tbls OxiClean (granular)
    1 squirt Dawn Dishwashing soap
    Fill with very warm water to dissolve the OxyClean
    Add the EO bottles, caps, reducers… let sit overnight. [I peel the label off first so it’s just the glue that’s left on the bottle]. By morning, even the “glue” is either completely off and floating on the top or just sitting on the bottle waiting for your fingers to quickly rub it off. Then rinse the items and let dry.

    This method can be used for any labels stuck on glass containers, just adjust the amount of OxiClean and Dawn according to the amount of water used. [I never measure.] I’ve even done this with wine bottles so DH can make “torches” one day.

    Give this method a try and let me know what you think.

  5. Judi Schleiden on 08/16/2016 at 11:40 pm


    I want to reuse a Deep Blue Oil bottle to put oils in it for use around my eye (a blend). How do I clean the bottle orifice, lid and bottle so I know it is completely clean. Thanks for you help!


    • Kathleen on 08/17/2016 at 1:53 am

      Hi Judi, I don’t recommend recycling a Deep Blue bottle for a blend to use around the eyes. Can you use a different bottle, one that contains an oil from the blend?

      • Judi Schleiden on 08/17/2016 at 1:57 am

        Yes, absolutely. What oil bottle would be safest? Can you tell me how to clean them thoroughly especially the orifice and lid. Is it safe to place the bottle in the dishwasher or wouldn’t you recommend that? Thanks for your quick response!

        • Kathleen on 08/17/2016 at 2:27 am

          Hmmm, I’ve never washed the orifice & lid in the dishwasher–those parts are so small! If you’re using a bottle that matches an oil in your blend, there’s really no need to wash the orifice and lid. It’s virtually impossible to get rid of the oil smell from plastic parts. But it’s fine to wash them in hot soapy water. Hope that helps! 🙂

          • Judi Schleiden on 08/17/2016 at 2:56 am

            Hmmm, they are new oils for this bottle so I will just have to find something that is the closest to it. I wasn’t going to wash the plastic parts just the glass bottle. I’ll figure it out though. Thanks I appreciate your help.

          • Kathleen on 08/17/2016 at 9:13 pm

            You can definitely put the glass bottle in the dishwasher. 🙂

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