View Full Version : Removing Labels from stainless tumblers! - HELP!

Bill Stearns
09-14-2017, 11:26 AM
Hey all! - Need your help!
As I had written ‘bout earlier: no sooner had I decided I would no longer take-on Cermarking “large quantities” of stainless tumblers, than a company has asked me to do 400, or so! - briefly, I’ve decided I can’t afford to say ‘no’! (started the project, today!)

In the unpacking stage - I’m finding removing the glued on labels a super labor time intensive pain! I’m able to very slowly peel some labels off without a problem, but most are leaving a strip of paper residue; glue beneath. I’ve learned that the glue/residue can afterwards be removed using WD-40 - but, seems, not the paper residue itself. Am I gonna have to first soak ‘n hand wash the paper residue off of 400 tumblers? Any solutions you can provide, well .. will be much appreciated! - BILL (PS: Why do the companies apply their labels as they do; don't they realize it makes 'em harder to prep for engraving?)

Mike Null
09-14-2017, 11:47 AM
I do a lot of these and it does take time. We are careful to peel the labels off then clean. Acetone or orange cleaner will remove the label glue. we repack the labels after lasering the items. Some of these require as much as 2 minutes to prep for Cermark.

Walmart is notorious for using labels of the type you are describing and I charge $1.00 extra for Walmart cups because of it.

Michael Ramsey
09-14-2017, 12:24 PM
Goo Gone seems to work well for removing adhesive residues. I use it quite a bit.

Bill Stearns
09-14-2017, 12:54 PM
Hi again
Thought I was clear - guess not. It’s, mostly, the paper residue I’m having trouble removing. (will try to insert a photo). I’m finding that WD-40 removes the underlying glue/residue easy enough. (Haven’t tried Goo-done, yet.) It’s that, slow ‘n careful as I am in removing the surrounding label, some of the “paper residue” is sticking to many of the tumblers! - at this point, all I can think to do is hand wash ‘em in hot, soapy water - to carefully scrub the remaining label paper off. - need a better way, if there is one! (thank heavens, this isn't happening to all of 'em, but a bunch!) Any more ideas needed! (BTW: Mike - what'd you mean that you "repack" the labels?) - guess my question if 'why"?) - some reason?

Kev Williams
09-14-2017, 1:45 PM
Run a few of them in the dishwasher as a test, bottom shelf, hottest water possible, no heat dry, no detergent. Should get most of the paper off, which should easily be digested by the dishwasher's food grinder...

As for the adhesive, "Kleen Strip" (sold at home depot) has come out with this stuff called "painters solvent", to replace xylene and such. It is extremely aggressive with dissolving paint, melting certain plastics and on most adhesives...

Hopefully the dishwasher will get rid of most of the paper, the solvent WILL get off the adhesive... Wear gloves, and you'll probably need 1 paper towel per cup...

Doug Fisher
09-14-2017, 1:54 PM
What you call paper residue is just a thin layer of paper sticking to the glue. Wet/soak it with a spray of acetone (buy a little cheap pump bottle) and both the paper and glue should disintegrate and basically wipe off.

Edit: This is for naked stainless steel tumblers only which is what I thought the original poster was marking. You don't want to use acetone on powder coated, etc.

Bill Stearns
09-14-2017, 2:04 PM
[QUOTE=Kev Williams;2726690]Run a few of them in the dishwasher as a test, bottom shelf, hottest water possible, no heat dry, no detergent. Should get most of the paper off, which should easily be digested by the dishwasher's food grinder...

Kev -
The label on these tumblers state "Do not place in dishwasher" - hand wash. - so, this seems the only way to remove the remaining paper residue. Works, but I'm finding very time consuming, as I then need to rinse, dry - then, afterwards, wipe down each tumbler with DNA 'fore applying Cermark. (Somethin' I learned from you all.) BTW: these are the Wal-Mart brand: Ozark Trail. - (Still wondering why the manufacturers cause us this grief, when a piece of tape on the outside of the label would certainly do the job!) - BILL

Doug Fisher
09-14-2017, 2:21 PM
The label is one of the reasons I switched to Polar Camel from JDS (thanks to learning about them here). Hardly any glue on the label, decent pricing, individually boxed and no stamped logo to work around. At 400 pieces the price will be very competitive with Walmart's current clearance pricing for tumblers.

FYI, I just engraved some powder coated Walmart tumblers where the label said they were safe for the top shelf in the dishwasher.

Mike Null
09-14-2017, 2:30 PM
I do mostly Yeti's and the labels on those and RTIC's and a couple of others come off in one piece. They have some instructions on them which is why I repack them.

Now you see why I charge an extra dollar on Walmart stuff. I have about 30 pieces of Walmart cups to do right now and the customer removed the labels rather than pay the extra dollar.

Prashun Patel
09-14-2017, 2:40 PM
Heat gun or dishwasher.

Mineral spirits for the residue is better than wd40

Kev Williams
09-14-2017, 7:33 PM
Kev -
The label on these tumblers state "Do not place in dishwasher" - hand wash. --this is because dishwasher soap is corrosive, which is why I highlighted in bold NO DETERGENT! :D

--hot water won't hurt them a bit.

And for those who haven't tried that 'painter's solvent', it's about twice as aggressive as acetone. It starts to emulsify powdercoating almost immediately...

Gary Hair
09-14-2017, 8:16 PM
The heat isn't good for the vacuum seal but dishwasher soap won't do anything to stainless steel, otherwise 99% of flatware would be a corroded mess.

--this is because dishwasher soap is corrosive, which is why I highlighted in bold NO DETERGENT! :D

--hot water won't hurt them a bit.

And for those who haven't tried that 'painter's solvent', it's about twice as aggressive as acetone. It starts to emulsify powdercoating almost immediately...

John Lifer
09-14-2017, 8:56 PM
Doug mentioned Polar Camel, their earlier cups had glue the wouldn't come off easy. The last I got comes off easy if cup is over 70 degrees. Cold leaves adhesive and the walart are terrible

Scott Marquez
09-14-2017, 11:47 PM
My vote is for a hair dryer or moderate use of a heat gun, followed up by lacquer thinner.

Rich Harman
09-15-2017, 2:02 AM
Detergent harmful to stainless steel???

Heat harmful to a vacuum seal???

Please explain.

Bill George
09-15-2017, 7:55 AM
Most of those vacuum cups say do not put in dishwasher and his are marked do not. Frankly I would ask the customer if they want to remove the labels or you will need to charge them for the extra time.

Mike Null
09-15-2017, 9:17 AM
As I said earlier, I charge a dollar extra for Walmart stuff.

BTW, I have a high school kid who does my unpacking/unwrapping, coating with Cermark and re-wrapping. It seems to me that if you want to make money at this you have to make better use of your time than doing minimum wage work. Certainly it is necessary at times but for a job like this you'll be spending a full day or more just prepping them.

Bill Stearns
09-15-2017, 7:50 PM
UPDATE: One more 'n I think we can probably wrap this thread up! I’m progressing with my (400+) tumbler project - my place suddenly lookin’ like a tumbler factory!

I’ve learned I can use an X-acto knife to quickly slice thru the paper labels; placing protective tape on the backside of the blade, so as not to scratch the tumblers. (sure beats pickin’ at the labels with my fingernail.) As for removing the sticky residue left behind, I’ve tried just ‘bout all of the products you all mentioned. Finally, using DNA, soaking for a ‘couple seconds, then scrubbing with paper toweling - seems to be workin’ okay. (just an extra step I hadn’t planned on.)

Replying to ‘couple posts: this job’s for the kinda company I wouldn't dare ask to remove their own labels. And, my asking for an extra $1 for my removing ‘em, well ... can’t see it at this stage. (too late.) Live ‘n learn! (I’ll certainly keep the idea in mind for future jobs.) Oh, and I plan to use an individual who has “special needs” to snap the plastic covers back on, ‘n to repack ‘em all. Truth is: this individual revels in helping me, from time to time, with these types of simple ‘n repetitive tasks. (which is an awfully good lesson for me: to always thoroughly enjoy whatever I’m doing!) Still, job’s gonna take me quite ‘bit of time! I’m using a 35W Epilog - taking ‘almost 4 minutes per tumbler at 9 speed/100 power. (Think I could speed it up?) - just ‘fraid of a mishap, as happened with that other outfit I’ve written ‘bout, where 'part of their logo didn't take.) Well, back to work ... BILL

Kev Williams
09-15-2017, 9:35 PM
depending on the surface area you're engraving, 4 minutes isn't bad. At 5 minutes each including in/out, you're looking at 12 per hour- 400 mugs, that's 34 hours work.

Where's your sink and drying table in relation to the laser? If more than 10 steps away-- get a small table, at least 3 towels, a magic eraser, a rag and a 5 gallon bucket of water. Cover the table with one of the towels. While the next mug is lasering clean off the last one. A wet rag will get most of the Cermark off, the magic eraser- no it won't scratch the mug- is the fastest way to get the remaining Cermark film off. Set the mug upside down on the towel. Repeat, and after you have about 10 mugs stood up on the towel, add towel drying and repacking one mug to the routine. You'll have to change out the water and wet towels occasionally... once you get a groove going you'll easily keep within 5 minutes from machine to boxed up. A helper to switch out towels and water will only speed it up :)

I say all this because I've had a run on water bottles lately, to the point I'm having to run 2 machines to keep up. The problem is, one machine is upstairs, the other is downstairs so I can't do the table next to me thing... the wife does help with the wash/dry/repack in the kitchen, but man, the stairs are killing me! ;)

Tim Bateson
09-15-2017, 9:46 PM
I charge $1/ea for label remove across the board. For the Ozark Trail, I add another $2/ea for a total of $3/ea for label removal. All but the larger orders will now generally deliver them without labels.

John Kleiber
09-19-2017, 5:50 PM
We received 100 Ozarks from Walmart, all with hard to remove labels and glue.

I filled cookie sheet trays with Acetone, stacked the cups one inside the other all with label orientation the same.

Laid them on their side for about 30 minutes each and everything removed well.

Caution: If you see any glue residue after soaking and label/glue removal, Cermark will not fuse. So don't think your gonna burn through the glue, its not going to work and the Cermark will not adhere.


John Lifer
09-19-2017, 8:12 PM
Watch the FuMeS from the Acetone. And being it isn't cheap either, charge them for the service!

Chuck Patterson
09-20-2017, 3:38 PM
I charge extra for label removals as well. I call it a "De-trash Fee". Customers complain and I inform them that if they remove the labels and glue themselves there will be no charge. Show them an example of exactly how thorough they need to be with the removal. They attempt to do several of them and usually bring them in and tell me to do it and they will gladly pay the De-trash Fee.

Mike Null
09-20-2017, 3:49 PM
The only labels that have been a problem are the Walmart ones. All the rest are really easy and I do not charge for them.

Besides that you must caution your customers to inspect the Walmart stuff carefully for damage. They have as much damage as all the rest combined.

Bill Stearns
09-20-2017, 3:50 PM
It certainly mystifies me why Ozark Brand (Wal-Mart) feels they need to apply “glue” on the “inside” of their labels, when that small, circular piece of tape they add seems to do the job.
I did learn that if I tear the labels off very, very slowly, many came off without leaving the paper & gummy residue. (thank heavens!)
Those on which the paper & gummy residue remained, I ended up soakin’ those in fairly hot water - using Dawn; then, rubbing the label ‘n glue off with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge: worked ‘bout as easy as the other solvents I tried. - ‘n less smelly ‘n messy. Guess the most important thing I’ve learned with this 400 tumbler job is to be sure I’m charging ‘nough, in the future, for label removal, where it might become an issue!

Oh, and John - I don’t know much ‘bout solvents, but I wouldn’t chance baking cookies in the oven, afterwards, with those Acetone coated pans! :) BILL

Matt McCoy
09-20-2017, 5:04 PM
Just in case it hasn't been mentioned, the JDS products do not have adhesive labels.

Jeremy Brown
09-20-2017, 7:36 PM
Ozarks are hit and miss for the paper mishap.

If I don't get a clean removal, I run that section of cup under hot water for 5-10 seconds then take a wet wash cloth and wipe with medium force over it a couple times and it removes it.

I then wipe the entire cup with denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner to remove any oils before I apply cermark. I do this even if the label didn't leave anything behind.

I suppose on a large order I would just fill a sink with hot water and soak while a scrub/wipe.

Nick Hale
11-01-2017, 11:59 AM
Made a quick video on how I do my ozark trail cups. I do this before I powdercoat and laser etch them.