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7 Ways to Prevent Label Peel

We don’t often get complaints about label peel with our permanent-adhesive labels, because our customer care and sales reps do a good job advising people. But in case you’re curious about ways to keep your labels from peeling or lifting, here’s some things you can do to help them stick tightly!

1. Apply labels to a clean, dry surface

Apply your labels to a clean, dry surface. Take a few seconds and swipe down your container with an alcohol swap or lens cleaner, or wash the containers in soapy water, rinse them thoroughly, and dry them completely. Use a lint-free cloth if you’re not air-drying them. If you’re putting the labels on by hand, wash your hands and make sure they don’t have lotion or other oils on them. Handle the labels by the edges as much as possible.

2. Use the right adhesive for the container material

Recycled plastic containers may need a stronger adhesive; so might oily or powder-coated metals. Wood is especially difficult. If you’re not sure if a particular material or adhesive will work on your container, either request a free sample for testing (check any MaverickLabel product page for the blue “Free Samples” button), or contact our Customer Care team via phone, email, or chat.

3. Consider the container’s texture or curvature

label peel on curved surface
Label peel on curved surface

Highly curved or textured surfaces may require a stronger adhesive. In some cases, certain label materials will simply not work – a thick LexSaver asset tag can’t wrap around a curve, regardless of the adhesive used.

Domed labels also don’t handle tight curves well. We have special materials and adhesives that will prevent the labels from peeling in these cases.

The image shows a LexSaver asset tag applied to the not-very-curved surface of a tool. You can see that the edge is already starting to lift. I don’t think that this asset tag will be protecting the tool for long. That’s not good!

4. Let labels cure for the right amount of time

When we say “cure,” we basically mean you should apply the label and let it sit for a day or two if you can. Don’t expose it to extreme heat or cold, or to moisture or oils during this time. This allows the adhesive to bond with the surface of the container, giving it a tighter seal.

Most pressure-sensitive labels don’t require the same amount of time that other types of adhesives need, but your labels will stick to the container better if you give them time to cure. (Note: Some labels, particularly tamper-evident ones, require a longer cure time than 24-48 hours.)

5. The label size should fit the container

label peel because label is too big for container
Label peel because label is too big

If you have three different container sizes, you might not want to use the same label on each. On some containers, it may be too small, which means you’re giving up valuable space where you could have bigger, more attention-grabbing artwork or information.

For others, it will be too big – which might cause label peel, because part of the label isn’t making good contact with the container. With contoured surfaces, the label may need a more curved shape, to fit the contours better.

This image shows a label that is slightly too big for the container. Even normal handling as you fill the jar, put the lid on, and box it up to go out may cause that corner to lift. It’s just a short step to label peel from there!

6. Old labels = old adhesive

If you order 10,000 labels, and only use 2,000 a year, some of your labels will be on the shelf for 5 years. They’ll sit there through hot and cold seasons, through summer humidity, through people shuffling them around, through dust and dirt. Their backing liner may start to fail. None of this is good for them. Digital printing has brought the price of small lots and short label runs down to a reasonable figure. Order small enough amounts that your labels don’t sit around for years before they’re put to use.

7. Temperature and other environmental factors

Like many of us, most labels don’t like the cold. If you apply regular labels in temperatures below 50F, they may later peel or lift. This means if your product goes through a hot or a cold cycle in your canning or bottling process, you should let the containers come to room temperature before applying labels.

In addition, some label materials aren’t suitable for high heat or humidity, or harsh chemicals. If your labels are going to need to stand up to any special environments, you may want to talk to one of our Customer Care reps about your specific environment and needs.

More Ways to Reduce Label Peel

  • We recommend slightly rounded label corners over square ones. The rounded ones don’t peel up as readily.
  • When applying large labels, you might only remove enough of the backing to enable you to start the label out straight on the product. Then slowly pull the backing off as you affix the label. That way, the adhesive stays covered until you place it directly on the container.
  • See “How to Apply a Label” for more application tips.

Here’s an example of a properly applied label. Stacy put it on her fishing lure keychain 10 years ago. (Note: We obscured the full name and the phone numbers; you can easily read these on the original.)

It has normal wear, due to her putting it into and taking it out of purses, pockets, and backpacks, throwing it on credenzas, dropping it in puddles and on hard surfaces, and all the usual sad lot of keychains. Although you can see that the laminate is finally starting to peel (those fine white lines at the top corners), the label itself remains stuck tightly to the surface of that fishing lure. After 10 years. These tips should help your labels last as well.

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