Re-Purposing Baby Food Jars


I’ve been working hard to live my belief that if something doesn’t have a function–be it sentiment, beauty, or purpose–it needs to go because it only clutters my focus and stands in the way of doing things I really want to do.

It stands in the way of living my life the way I truly want to live it.

It’s a process, though, and perhaps an eternal one. I’m getting closer with the clear out and renovation downstairs. I’ve done away with a lot of things upstairs, too, over the past year. And I still have a long way to go.

Wait, was this supposed to be about baby food jars?

Just some of my vast baby food jar stockpile. I had them on the floor of the living room while I was sorting and counting what I had in the different sizes.

Baby food jars are fantastic for all sorts of small storage–craft and office doo-dads–as well as many uses in the kitchen (herbs and spices, small batches of things like horseradish, etc), homemade beauty products, candles, storing seeds, gifting various things, and on and ON. Baby food jars are next to canning jars for their versatility and re-usability. You can often find baby food jars at garage sales or in the penny papers, but if you make a habit of letting people know you want jars, you might happen on a stash for free. My friend Faye is helping to raise her granddaughter these days and has masses of baby food jars. She offered them to me, knowing I was a likely suspect for taking them off her hands. I jumped at them, but then had nowhere to put them. They were in plastic grocery store bags (numerous bags) and some ended up on a table on the back porch (where the cats got into them) and others on the bottom landing of the back porch steps (where the dogs and chickens got into them).

My baby food jar mess is a perfect example of why you need to get rid of stuff you don’t need so you can take care of what you do need.

Amazingly, only a few of the jars were broken, and now I have dedicated jar storage space downstairs. (Yay!) Currently, I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 jars, in 2-ounce, 4-ounce, and 6-ounce sizes. Believe it or not, most of these jars are going to be used in the next six weeks. That’s because we’ll be using them at the CITR Retreat in homemade beauty product classes and candlemaking classes. It’ll take me the next week or so, off and on, to get all these jars ready for students at the retreat.

It won’t be long before I’ll be shoring up my soon-to-be depleted baby food jar collection as Faye has been gathering more bagfuls for me. She told me the other day, “Every time I wash a baby food jar, I think of you.” Now there’s a friend who knows what you like!

Anyway–if you neglect something for awhile, you get to do about 20 times more work cleaning it up. These jars had been outside and gotten dirty, so they needed washing, but not only that, there was still label goo to remove. I’ve tried every “homemade” way to get that sticky label stuff off jars, and sometimes you just gotta turn to a product, especially if you’re dealing with a large number of jars. Baby food jar label goo seems especially resistant to removal. I used Goo Gone.

It dissolves the goo and makes it easier to scrub away. It doesn’t completely take away the need to scrub and even scrape a bit, but it makes the job a lot faster and the longer you let it soak on the jar (you spray it on there), the better it works. It’s the best thing I’ve found so far for easing the goo removal.

Free of sticky goo, the jars just take a trip through the dishwasher and they’re sanitized. They stack nicely for storage in paper boxes (the kind that reams of paper come in), sorted by size.

But what about those lids?

Not horrible, but. Who needs Gerber on there? I took the lids outside and sprayed them with a fast-dry chrome paint (labeled for metal).

Now this isn’t a baby jar…..

It’s a jar with style, baby!


  1. Barbee says:

    Well now, isn’t that clever!

  2. Miss Judy says:

    I picked up a three-tiered lazy susan type thing made especially for baby food storage at a garage sale…25 cents.It holds 25 jars in a 8×8 inch square ( it is also 8 inches high)! I keep my scrapbooking embelishments in it. I never thought to spray paint the lids.

  3. Valerie says:

    My girlfriend held a class at her home where we used the BIG glass jars (pickles come in them,you can get them for free at restaurants and bars). Her husband spray painted the lids, we made little vignettes in the jars, then made lamps out of them.The light fixture came out of the lid, and little lampshades can be purchased at craft shops like Michaels. Mine was a Christmas farm scene with little piney trees,a barn, and small farm animals. Wish I had it handy to show a pic. Lots of uses for jars of all sizes.

  4. GA_in_GA says:

    Glad you had the jars and a very clever way to move them along to a new home!

  5. brookdale says:

    Great idea to paint the lids, Suzanne! And soon, with those twins in the family, you’ll be getting even more jars!

  6. Snapper119 says:

    I am so doing this. My spices will thank you for it!

  7. merng says:

    Not sure how much Goo Gone costs, but this may save you some money – when I’m removing labels, I let it soak in some hot, soapy water. Remove as much of the goo as you can in the soapy water (usually I get all or most of it off). For any remaining goo, I use some nail polish remover on a cotton ball.

    Love the painted lids!

  8. hershiesgirl says:

    Love, love, love it! Suzanne– so that you *never* have to scrub or scrape…I lay a piece of paper towel on the gluey area, spray with goo remover til saturated, and let it sit while I do something else for an hour or so. The paper towel holds the goo remover exactly where it needs to be. When I come back to it, the goo, and the glue wipe right off with the paper towel scrap. Works like a charm! Can’t wait to see what treasures you fill them with!! ~jackie

  9. galagal says:

    LOVE IT, love it, love it. Can’t waite for the retreat.
    thanks for all the work, and Great ideas

  10. Drucillajoy says:

    Sometimes I have had luck getting that goo off when the jar is really cold…it just chips off either with a sharp knife or a razor blade.
    Somewhere I too have a ‘stash’ of baby food jars, I also have a bunch of those tiny little glass jars that jellies come in at Christmas time in those food gift sets..not sure what I’d ever use them for, but I keep them anyway.

  11. Liz Pike says:

    Retreat recipients will thank you for your hard work, Suzanne! I’d not thought of using them for candles. Now I’ll know to pick up those I bypass at yardsales!

  12. whaledancer says:

    I’ve never tried Goo Gone, but I use Avon Skin-So-Soft to remove label adhesive. Peel off the paper, rub in a little Skin-So-Soft, and the sticky stuff comes off without scrubbing (and it smells nice, too). Then just wash as usual. I learned that trick from an antique dealer, for removing price tags without damaging the patina on antiques.

  13. Sheila Z says:

    I raised 5 kids and never had a baby food jar in the house. My daughter has never feed a jar to my grandson either. So easy to make baby food cheaper and better tasting than the stuff in those jars. I do have jar envy though. They are such handy sizes for storing spices, buttons, craft stuff, etc. Spray painting the lids is a great idea!

  14. patricialynn says:

    Incidentally, I discovered that the goo gone gel (which is what you showed in that picture) is a great stainless steel polisher. Lovely streak-free shine that lasts for weeks.

  15. lizzie says:

    The baby food jar’s look great! We are also in the process of cleaning out the BIG garage, there is a huge pile of things, MANY dump loads to go, my girlfriend told me I should look through the things, I told her they have been in the attic for eleven years and I have not needed or missed them, so all is going, either to a thrift store or the dump. The HOARDER in me is wondering if I should take a sneak peak at the stuff? :devil2:

  16. Miss Judy says:

    I just noticed that baby food now comes in little plastic containers.

  17. JOJO says:

    I saved glass jars for a while as well, not near as many as Suzanne, but about 2 dozen, all sizes. A few years ago I also did a basement kitchen and used white with cherry red accents. I sprayed all of my lids with cherry red spray paint and also some large fruitcake tins. I also took one of the fruit cake tins and drilled a hole in the top and added a glass knob. So much storage and such a fresh look.

  18. MissyinWV says:

    I love this idea!!!! Thank you for sharing.

  19. tribalcime says:

    love baby food jars .awesome to have such a great collection of them !!!!

  20. Runningtrails says:

    Those are beautiful and so useful! You are right, they can be used for so many things! I am more of a bottle collector. I have boxes and boxes of bottles of all kinds for wine and vinegars. If it will take a cork, I save it. I do also save jars for other things too, like herbal salve and freezer jam. You don’t need sealing mason jars for freezer jam. You can make it in anything, even plastic sour creamyogurt bowls.

    Those jars would be great for beads, if one made jewelry and beaded decor on clothing, etc. too!

    Or, brown sugar body scrub, or …

    Storage is important. My “box kitty” insists on climbing into every bag and box she sees.

  21. middlemamma says:

    Do you think this would be an okay way to do your spice cabinet? Do you think the spray paint would affect anything?

  22. laur says:

    Many christmasses we monkeyglued little scenes on the inside of

    lid, y’know–bitty snowmen, or teeny pine trees with a star on top, or baby jesus and his momma…and while they were drying, put 1 T glycerin and nursery water in the dishwasher clean jar with some metallic glitter…THEN monkey glue around the edges of the lid…screwed it onto the filled up jar…waited 20 minutes and voila…snowstorms !

    also overlap jars w/ torn tissue paper with diluted white glue , dry, then coat with more dilute glue. You can glue to inverted lids if you want. Pop a little votive in there…so pretty.
    Have also wound doubled floral wire around the lip of the jar and made longish handles for the kids to carry on our 3 kings parades ( singing WE 3 Kings ) when joe is dressed as Herod and grills them with sly and sneaky questions trying to find where Jesus is…
    but I always had to ask for them !!! I never bought babyfood either …too pricey for me…
    and they nursed and they nursed and they nursed…until they could eat smashed anything !

  23. Primginger says:

    Planning to do something similar, but I plan to spray the lids with black chalk board paint and then use the jars for spices in a drawer, then I can write on the lids as to what the spice is… to find jars….

  24. Wm.Mike says:

    Next time WD40. Best label remover i have ever used 😀

  25. PaulaA says:

    I was all set to start throwing out my babyfood jars. I’ve used them for freezing the formula I use to raise orphaned wildlife, and have found some plastics that are better for that purpose. Then, a couple of years ago, I saw that baby food was starting to come in little plastic tubs that weren’t even air tight. Yikes! I have already been through the yogurt industry abandoning real lids, and ruining one of my other favorite formula freezing containers! So, out of fear more than actual need, I guess I’m hanging on to them.

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