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Secret Squirrel

Hi All

Quick question, can I clean plastic plant labels that have been written on with a permanent marker, with nail polish remover?


Try it and see but it could get expensive if you have a lot to clean.   Monty Don reckons a scrub with fine wire wool does the trick.


Think nail polish remover would dissolve the labels too - I'd try Monty's fine wire wool. 


I have just washed mine, i put them in a bowl, sprayed a bit on bleach, left them overnight and then scrubbed with a green scotch brite. All clean,

Secret Squirrel

OK, thanks. I'll go with weak bleach and fine wire wool.



Pencil is better to use. I find permanent pen is not that permanent in a damp pot or in the sun.


Dove is right the acetone in nail varnish remover will definitely damage the plastic, white spirit should be ok though. If you scrub the labels you will find that marker pen will bleed next time you use them. Pencil as suggested by Blairs would be better

Secret Squirrel

Thanks Fleurisa and blairs (fit like! Aberdeen calling)

The pen came with the labels, I'll use it for something else and use a pencil

I cleaned loads earlier this week with a very cheap Brillo type pad Dipped in water. I usually use cream cleaner with a kitchen cloth but the pretend Brillo was better. Like other gardeners I  find a pencil better for marking. I also have a simple Dymo tape machine that uses plastic tape. Looks smart but tape can become unstuck from the label so I use it more in the greenhouse for succulents etc.


I use 'write for all' pen on the plastic label. By the time I've used both sides and the labels have been out a couple of years the plastic has started to degrade and that's the end. My labels are just for me in the nursery pots, I'm quite happy to cross out and write something else. I don't label the garden



The 2,000 labels I just bought have to be rubbed down with wire wool before any pencil lead will stick to them. Doubles the work.


David Matthews2

I've tried various of the above suggestions/ combinations over the years. A quick and relatively inexpensive one is dab of spit and a smallish corner off an emery cloth/board (wet & dry) - a rinse in the water butt and dry in the sun on a wire through the little holes finishes the job. No real scouring (like wire wool/Brillo), so less likelihood of 'bleed' from permanent marker inks.

Soaking in neat bleach for a few days gets permanent marker off plastic labels. I've had the same labels for years and use a Stabilo permanent marker. 


What a lot of work. I find I can wipe off pencil with a wet thumb. Perhaps the segs on it help though.


I'm lazy I re-write on them or throw them away



I use pencil and clean off with powder Vim and old green scourer. It takes only seconds to do.


I wouldn't put them in the washer full stop and not on a hot wash.

Surprising how many things "escape" from wash bags and pillow cases into your washer pump, or wedge between drum and door seal. If you do decide to do this don't let it spin, not that it would with one item in it. Couldn't balance.

Better to try the Vim, or a bucket of hot water and bio powder overnight. Cheaper than an abortive call out charge for machine repairing due to miss- use.   


I tried nail varnish remover and it didn't work. I wonder if my old trick for cleaning tea pots would work - a splash of bleach and a shake of washing powder to boiling hot water (it fizzes and bubbles up so take care) stir, add labels and soak overnight. It gets teapot stains off completely. If it doesn't work I'll try the pillow case in the washing machine trick - is a 60 degree wash hot enough? Last year my hand ached from scrubbing dozens of plastic labels with a brillo pad and it took ages - never again!


I have been using brother label tapes. The only problem I have is that most of the labels I have bought recently seem to be made of light degradeable plastic, and seem to crumble or snap easily after a season.


Non permanent marker (ie white board marker) removes permanent marker.  Just an additional thought.  Have fun. x