super simple recycled bottle vase - DIY - removing sticky labels

A super simple way to remove sticky residue naturally—and make recycled bottle vases.

I’ve turned my kids into hoarders. I’m not sure if it’s nature or nurture, but it’s happening. While I might complain about the constant accumulation of scraps of paper, junky plastic mementos, and wrappers that smell like their favorite candy, these girls of mine definitely got their inability to let things go from their momma.

I absolutely loathe throwing something out that is still perfectly useful—even if I’m not sure how it might be useful to me at this very moment. Sometimes I’m good and I throw everything into a donate pile. Other times, not so much. I stash things in a closet or a drawer or in a pile on the dining room table waiting for some sort of inspiration to strike.

So it was with a few empty bottles. I know. Just throw them in the recycling, right? I couldn’t do it. I shoved them into a corner of the dining room hoping my husband wouldn’t notice them while I tried to figure out a way to repurpose them. Days went by, but when the rose of Sharon bushes outside my front door started blooming, inspiration struck.


Vases from the florist are usually pretty boring. I get it, they’re not the star of the show. But I like something a little more quirky and interesting. My bottles—which were actually a wine bottle, a syrup bottle, and an empty candle jar—totally fit the bill. My only obstacle was that sticky residue labels leave behind. And I figured out an easy way to get rid of it.

remove sticky residue naturally - make simple recycled bottle vases in minutes - eco friendly home - upcycle

A simple trick to remove sticky residue naturally

First, clean the bottles out with soap and warm water. Ain’t nobody got time for vases that attract ants.

Next, remove the labels. Very rarely it’s as easy as peeling the label and using a little dish soap and warm water on the leftover gunk. More often than not though, you’ll need to seriously degunkify.

That’s where coconut oil comes in. It is amazing!

Rub it on any sticky spots in a circular motion, really working it in there. Depending on the strength of the glue that was used, this could be a nice and simple undertaking or it could take a little effort. For me, it took a little effort. I rubbed and rubbed and then rinsed it off to find a couple of stubborn spots that were still all gluey.

So I took more oil (olive and other oils would probably work just as well), focused on those spots, and rinsed again. While the other two bottles were good, the candle jar with the melted label still wasn’t clean. I sprinkled on a little baking soda and rubbed coconut oil on top again. Since I use baking soda as a gentle abrasive in all of my green cleaning recipes, I knew it wouldn’t be too harsh on the glass.

Check out my before and afters:

super simple recycled bottle vase - DIY - removing sticky labels

remove sticky residue to transform old bottles into recycled bottle vases

The top photo shows what my bottles looked like after just using dish soap and warm water (as you can see, two out of the three were still covered in sticky gunk). The bottom picture was taken after I used coconut oil, baking soda, and a little elbow grease.

Once I got rid of the sticky residue, the bottles were ready to be repurposed. I just filled them with a little water and stuck my flowers inside. If you want to get real fancy (which I might do next time), you can paint the bottles. I love the idea of using Krylon’s Sea Glass spray paint for projects like this.

Sometimes my hoarding actually pays off. 😉

recycled bottle vases - simple DIY - eco-friendly project - eco friendly home

Looking for more natural or eco-friendly ideas? Check these posts out:

This post was originally published in January 2014. It was completely updated in September 2017.

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.