I have a love-hate relationship with labeling my homemade products. On the one hand, I very much understand the importance of labeling. Homemade spice blends, homemade sauces, and especially homemade cleaners, can be really hard to identify if you don’t mark on the jar or bottle what’s inside as soon as you’re done making it.
On the other hand, I find labeling kind of a nuisance. I just want to quickly slap something on there and be done with it. I’m always looking to keep things simple, practical, and efficient.
I touched on this subject once before in a series I wrote three years ago called “Sometimes It’s Not About Cute“. I decided not to stress myself out with fancy labels and instead decided to keep it real and show you how labeling really happens at my house.
It ain’t that pretty. But it works!
Now if you LIKE making cute labels, then go for it. If you find enjoyment and satisfaction in that creative process, then I say more power to you. Be true to yourself.
But if that’s not your thing, you may find one of these very basic methods that I use will help you handle the chore of labeling your “Make Your Own” type of products. These methods have been quick and efficient for me, which makes the sometimes tedious chore of having to stop and make a label a little more manageable.
Let’s take a look:
1. My Label Maker
I’ve had a little handheld Brother label maker for several years now. I have the Brother PT-65 Label Maker which is still available on Amazon, but you have to get a used one to get a normal price. It looks like the newer model is the PT70BM Label Maker. Any office supply store should carry a selection of small label makers like this too in the price range of $20 to $40.
This is usually my favorite method for labeling my homemade cleaners because the labels are waterproof and durable. It’s a good choice for any bottle or jar that you’ll be refilling over and over with the same homemade mixture. It only takes a minute to type in whatever you want your label to say and you can then print it off and stick it on your container. It stays in place with no problem and doesn’t peel off.
Some people feel the tape refills for these machines are too expensive, however it takes me a long time to use up a tape cartridge so for me it’s worth it. It let’s me quickly print off a label that I know will be durable.
Where I’m using this now: Homemade Glass Cleaner
2. Post-It Notes
Labels makers are great for a long-lasting and durable label but there are many times I want the exact opposite. There are times when I’m not sure if I’m going to keep using the same container (or I might want to use the container for something else later) and I just want a quick temporary label. Those are the times I usually grab a sticky-back post-it note, scribble on it what I want the label to say, and then cut it down to size if needed. I use this method most often in the kitchen.
Sometimes I use a Sharpie marker to write on my post-it note labels so that the print is nice and dark, but many times I just use whatever ink pen or pencil is handy. Sometimes a bit of tape is needed to keep it in place too, especially if I’m using a cheapie brand of notes.
This method is certainly not fancy, but I find it to be really quick and it always gets the job done. I can get a label on a container right away even if I’m busy. I like this method for labeling plastic containers or glass jars in the kitchen that I use for a whole variety of purposes at different times.
3. Computer Print-out and Clear Tape
I use this last method most often when I want a large label in a big font. I type up the words I want on my label in a word processing program, and then print it off on regular computer bond paper and cut-it down to size. BUT, because this type of paper is not waterproof and won’t hold up well, I’ve learned I need to cover it with clear tape. This also then becomes how you get the label to stick on to the container too. Because I usually use this strategy when I want a larger label, I cover it with the clear box sealing tape that’s almost 2″ wide.
I’ve learned the hard way that if you make a pretty little label from the computer, but then don’t cover it with something like clear tape, it’s quite possible it’s not going to hold up. I gave my mother-in-law a jar of my semi-homemade hand cream and printed off a colorful label for the top of the jar. She gave the jar back to me a few months ago asking for a refill and my label was in sad shape! The ink runs if any kind of water or other liquid gets on it (she had it sitting in the bathroom).
This method takes a little more time than the others do, but it does produce a basic label that’s super easy to read if you use a large font. It’s also a way to get a BIG label if you’re trying to cover up some other writing on a re-purposed container.
And if you do want something a little more cute, this is a way to play with a few fonts or colors if you so choose. If your label won’t be anywhere near water you might be OK, although even just normal oils and moisture from your hands could take its toll. Protective tape is usually needed.
Where I’m using this now: Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner
So those are the three methods I find myself using the most often. I know with Pinterest being so popular these days we see lots of pictures of lovely homemade items that are all dressed up for a photo shoot. And I don’t think any of them just have a post-it note slapped on there!
But don’t feel bad if those lovely Pinterest pictures aren’t the reality at your house. Lots of times it’s not the reality at my house either.
It’s important to label your homemade products and I would certainly urge you to not skip this step. I would also urge you, however, to use a method that fits your lifestyle and the situation. There are times when I do like to use a fancy label (the holidays for instance) like I did with my homemade Kahlua this past Christmas when I had my festive groove going.
But for everyday life, I find that the simple and practical methods of my label maker, post-it notes and computer printouts, seem to work the best for me and are the methods I use over and over again.
How about you? Do you have a favorite labeling method?
Feel free to share with a comment below. 🙂