DIY Canister Labels for a Pantry (with free printables!)

See how to make canister labels for a pantry without a vinyl cutter. Simply use packing tape to print your own DIY labels at home. You can even grab free printable labels!

On Thursday, I'm going to be sharing something I've been waiting to show you guys for a very long time – our pantry! I've dreamed of this pantry for years. Long story short, we've never really had a “real” pantry (just cabinets that were converted into storage space), so I've had a ton of fun organizing and customizing this area just for us.

One of the final projects I had to do (just yesterday) was labeling the storage canisters…and I was stumped. I labeled the baskets in our pantry with cute chalk labels, but those didn't really work for plastic containers. I don't have any kind of vinyl cutting machine (yet – I really want one!), so I was honestly kind of at a loss for how to tell these apart. And some kind of labeling was definitely needed – we had a lot of things that looked very similar, and it was starting to get kind of confusing.

I tentatively had some kind of printable on my calendar to share with you guys today, and spoiler alert…I was stumped in that department too. I usually like to share some kind of printable that is kind of relevant to whatever I'm working on or writing about, but I didn't think I really needed any pantry printables.

Until I had a total “why didn't I think of that sooner?” moment – I could use my trusty packing tape label method to make printables for these canisters! I've used this method a couple of other times in our home (on our school paper bins) and it is so incredibly simple. An added bonus is that you really don't need any kind of super special materials or skills to do this. The weathered look it gives labels was perfect for what I'm going for in our pantry. It ended up being exactly what I needed!

the easy way to make pantry labels with free printables.

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I can't take credit for this method – I saw it somewhere (Facebook maybe?) a couple of years ago and I've been happily using it ever since. If you've never seen it before, here's how you do it!

Step 1: Print free printable labels on regular paper.

Start off by printing a paper copy of your labels (just on basic 8.5×11″ printer paper). You can really use any design you'd like for these…but, very important, your copy *must* be printed on a laser jet printer for this method to work. I've tried this with inkjet and the ink won't transfer properly. This is an updated version of the laser jet I've had for years – I keep it around for bulk printing and projects like this!

If you'd like to use the labels I used in my pantry, I made a full set! I've got blank and pre-printed labels in this file…just click to download your copy. If you'd like to fill in your own labels with the font I used, click here to grab it – it's called Old Style and it's free to download.

Step 2: Cover paper with packing tape.

Take a piece of regular packing tape (like the kind I used for this project) and evenly (without bubbles) cover your paper copy. Trim any excess tape that doesn't cover the printed part of your label.

Then, tape side-up with a credit card or gift card, press down your tape to ensure it is very securely bonded to the paper. This ensures that the ink will transfer.

Step 3: Soak.

Next, you'll dip your tape/paper in the magic solution…good old fashioned H20. You'll need to let the label soak in water for maybe 10-15 seconds – just until the paper is saturated. You can get both sides wet, but it's really only necessary to soak the paper side; I like to kind of let the label float with the paper facing down so you don't have to dry everything off too much.

Step 4: Scrape paper off of packing tape.

Now, scrape! Use that same credit/gift card and, paper side-up, gently scrape off the paper. The ink should stay on the tape and the tape will still be sticky enough to use as a label.

The harder you scrape, the more likely it is for the ink to start coming off (which is not necessarily a bad thing if you want a more weathered look).

Step 5: Stick label to canister!

Finally, stick!

I love the slightly faded, farmhouse-y look that these labels gave the canisters. As you'll see in my pantry post, they ended up being the perfect solution for this space…I couldn't be happier with the result!

xo, Leslie; signature at end of the blog post.

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  1. Bev. Carroll says:

    I can’t access the freezer label printable

  2. Does the tape stick on the containers after you’ve soaked them and scraped off the paper?

    1. It does! The water doesn’t really affect the stickiness of the tape.

  3. What are you containers called & where from?

    1. They are the Ikea 360 brand – we love them!

  4. If making your own labels, what size font and text box do you recommend?

    1. The text box on these is 3×2″ – that seems to be a great size for most labels. Font is going to depend on your text box and actual font, but I used 50 on these.