What You Can Do To Deflate the Clear Label Bubbling Issue

Why Applying Clear Labels Without Bubbles is a Challenge

One of the most popular types of labels we sell are clear labels. And for good reason.

  • They’re chic, giving the “no label” look
  • They’re water resistant
  • They work for a wide variety of products and markets

Although popular, they come with a distinct challenge: Bubbling.

All labels are prone to bubbling if not applied correctly. However, clear labels are especially difficult to manage because the bubbling is so obvious when it happens. What should be a clean looking label on your container could have the opposite effect if it bubbles.

Why do Bubbles Appear on Clear Labels?

Before you can apply a bubble-free clear label, you need to understand why the bubbles appear.

Air Entrapment

If you are hand applying your labels, it’s easier for the air to get trapped underneath the adhesive. Making a simple switch to machine application will help spread the label more evenly, avoiding pockets of air from getting trapped under the label.

Soft Container

What substrate are you applying your labels to? If it’s soft, it might give a little making it more difficult to avoid air entrapment, which (as you just learned) causes bubbling. Labeling a more sturdy container is one way to avoid this. Or, you can use a flexible clear stock, such as clear polyolefin film label stock, when applying the label so it conforms better to your container.


Even a small speck of dust can affect how smoothly your label is applied. Before any label application, you must clean and dry your bottles completely. If you’re storing them before they go through the application process, make sure they are warehoused in tight packaging to avoid dust from sneaking in.  Or, the

Flat Spots on Containers

Trying to save money by purchasing lower quality bottles? You could risk having your clear labels bubble more easily.

High-quality bottles and packaging won’t have any flat or uneven spots. These obscure areas can often cause bubbles to appear. Check your bottles to be sure they’re evenly round by placing a straightedge (such as a credit card or ruler) next to the surface and rotating it. Do you notice any gaps while you roll it around?

You can also roll your bottle along a flat surface. Pay attention to how it rolls. If it rolls evenly without stopping or consistently skewing right or left, you have a high-quality container and should be able to apply clear labels without bubbling.  If the bottle starts to rock front and back, it’s a sign you may have a problem.

It’s important to do this both vertically and horizontally. Bottles, especially personal care product bottles with oval cross sections, tend to see the flat spots more often. If you find any flat spots, you should not attempt to label your products using clear self-adhesive labels.

Wet Out

“Wet out” is a term we use in the labeling industry to describe the tiny bubble patterns that often appear under clear labels. This is when the pattern of the self-adhesive shows through the clear film on the bottle. It happens because of surface energy variations.

Usually, the tiny bubble pattern dissipates after 24 hours. Test your labels first to find out if you can plan on it dissipating or if you need to choose a different label for your products.

How to Avoid Clear Label Bubbling

Now that you know what causes bubbling in clear labels, here’s how to avoid it for your products:

  • Step 1: Purchase high-quality containers
  • Step 2:  Clean your containers thoroughly from dust with a quick wipe down.  Better yet, ensure that the cartons are tightly sealed and protected from dust contamination.
  • Step 3: Machine apply your labels to avoid air entrapment
  • Step 4: Apply steady and even pressure using rollers across the entire label surface
Question: Have you ever struggled with label bubbling while applying clear labels?

If so, you’re not alone. Take a look at the products in your local drug store. You might be surprised to find that some products have bubbles in their labeling. By using the four step process we outlined above, you can avoid suffering this same fate with your containers.

Need a professional touch on your labels? We can help. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you get bubble free clear labels on your products.

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  1. We spent the last for months rebranding our products with clear labels. The designer had used clear labels for another client and they looked beautiful so we wanted that look. However our copacker just tries the labels on the bottles (150 Amber PET bottles, and 1oz amber glass boson round bottles) and they are getting a lot to air bubbles. This is very frustrating. The designer never mentioned this as a possible issue. What can we do?

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