Does This work? Making Transparent Labels

Do you want to know my dirty little secret?  I’m going to be sharing it with you today.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love things to be organised.  In fact, when they aren’t organised, I find it really hard to function. So it’s amazing that I have let this go on for so long without resolving the issue.

The History

My spice drawer is the problem.  Before we got our new kitchen, I used to have my Tupperware spice containers stored in this cute little shelf that Andy made for my birthday one year.  They were labelled (mostly) and organized and they looked pretty.

The real problem came when we designed our new kitchen – it has no wall space. That’s right, every inch of wall space in our kitchen is taken up with cupboards so my spices had to leave their little shelf and move into a drawer. 

Of course the drawer isn’t tall enough for the tall Tupperware spice containers so they had to lie down. This meant that their contents often spilled out and the whole thing was just a mess.

You also couldn’t see the labels on any of the containers, and there wasn't enough space for everything so I had spill over into the pantry. This week, I decided that it was time I took this matter in hand and sorted it.

The Plan

My plan was to replace the Tupperware containers with jars.  I needed to get the right sized jars.  They couldn’t be too tall, or the drawer wouldn’t close.  They needed to be square – more efficient use of space. I also needed more than I currently had. They needed to fit neatly in the drawer. I found these jars online and they were the perfect size, or so I thought – actually they are the perfect size – the neck is a too small to fit a tablespoon into but I can live with that. 

The Lids

This may seem like a little thing but the lids for these jars came in black, gold or green.  None of these colours work in my kitchen so I decided to spray paint the lids. I popped the lids onto some little sample cups to hold them up off the cardboard and then spray painted them with two coats of Dulux Duramax spray paint in Bright Copper Rose.

I didn’t bother to prime them but I did make sure that I covered the sides of each lid.

The Labels

Did you ever have a project that you thought would take you a really short amount of time and it ended up taking you forever?

This was one of those projects.

I started off thinking I could print the labels on the Brother Scan and Cut but the lettering was way too fine and it just wouldn't cut properly.

I have seen many YouTube tutorials on how to make transparent labels using your laser printer, paper and tape so I thought I’d give it a try.

The Process

I created my labels using Microsoft Word. I made sure that I had plenty of space between the rows of my labels and I gave them an outline.

If you would like to make these labels, let me know in the comments section below and I'll send the file to you.

Next, I printed them out using my Brother laser printer.

I put clear tape over the labels.

This turned out to be the biggest challenge.  At first I struggled to get the tape on without creases but then I figured out that if I put a little bit of tape down at the beginning and unrolled it as I went, rather than unrolling it and then trying to stick it on, that worked better.

Once the tape was on, I used the round end of a pair of tweezers to burnish it.  You could use anything hard – a teaspoon, a credit card, it doesn’t matter.  You just need to make sure you rub it hard so that the ink transfers from the paper to the tape.

Once that’s done, cut the labels apart.  I used my rotary cutter and mat to do this.  I cut off the dotted lines – these were only there for a cutting guide.

Once cut, I soaked the labels in warm water.

Videos I had watched using this method differed on their opinions of how long to soak them.  To be honest, I think the longer the better. Some of mine ended up soaking for an hour while I worked on the others. Warm water works best.

While holding the label under the water, I rubbed off the paper.  This takes quite a while and it was quite challenging to know whether I had all the paper off or not. After a while I started to know how they felt when I had done a good job.

I found that I needed two bowls of water - one to soak the labels and rub off most of the paper, and then one with clean water to finish the labels.

You can see how wrinkled my fingers are from spending about an hour under the water – I had lots of labels to do. I made two labels for each jar – one for the lid and one for the jar itself. The reason I did this – jars and lids often get separated if you have more than one open at a time so I always label both.

I let the labels dry face down on a paper towel.  

They took much longer to dry than I had anticipated and once they were dry I noticed that quite a few still had paper on (check out the Turmeric label). I popped them back into the water and rubbed off the remaining paper.

What Worked

After positioning a few labels on the lids and jars, I actually decided that it was much better to put the labels on wet.  This gave me lots of freedom to move them around without having to lift and restick them. Once dry, they stuck pretty well.

The Result

Was I happy with the result – well, not exactly.  They look OK, but not perfect.

As you can see, they look like they have air bubbles under the labels but they don’t.  I can only assume that it’s where there was some leftover paper residue or the stick has come off. I tried putting them back in the water and rubbing them again but it didn't make any difference.

On the front of the jars, the labels worked better but were cloudy.

I was hoping that once they dried they would look better but they didn’t.  

The labels I put on wet, as opposed to dry, actually got better results.

Did it Work – Final Thoughts

It certainly didn’t work as I’ve seen it in videos.  It may have been the tape I used or my process.  I don’t know.  

What I do know is that it certainly isn’t as easy as they make it look on YouTube.

It took a ridiculous amount of time and the result wasn’t perfect.

Would I do it again?


I’m not willing to give up yet.  I may buy some different tape and play some more but I certainly wouldn’t do another project of this scale expecting great results.

So there you have it. My personal experience on using this process.  

If you’ve ever used this process, successfully or not, please let me know in the comments below.

I hope you enjoyed this organisation project.





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July 15, 2021