We have discussed ways to destroy documents without a shredder, but how can I easily destroy the personal information contained on packages I receive through couriers (like shipping bags, Amazon boxes, etc)?

These packages are often labeled with personal information like billing and shipping address, phone numbers, and sometimes even email addresses. The labels stuck on these boxes and bags are hard to remove, and cutting them with scissors is usually too difficult. These boxes and bags are sometime made of harmful plastics, so burning them would not be good for the environment.

So what would be the good method to destroy the information or the packages themselves?

  • 2
    So, you're ok to reveal them to the courier but not the garbage collector?
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 11:14
  • Yes obviously! I've to send the account number to the person who is going to transfer the amount to my number. But I can't put that on social media.. Just an example, bad though :D
    – kirtan403
    Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 5:41
  • Has anyone used "Address Blocker Stamp" to easily roll across addresses bar codes QR codes etc? I've seen them advertised but not used one. Looks effective (adverts of course) but needs to be re filled after a few uses....
    – Stan
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 15:16
  • I wonder how us old-timers survived back in the days when every house had that information about everyone, readily available in a phone book? Commented Mar 1 at 14:01

11 Answers 11


What I use in these situations is a Sharpie Magnum.

In my experience, these are fairly good at blacking out information on package labels. But you have to keep in mind that most of this information is fairly public and readily available (not to mention any package handler had access to it before it was handed off to you).

You could always take an extra step and scratching bits of the labels off with a knife or scissors, but that's probably not necessary in most cases. If a bad guy was on the lookout to do harm to someone, the information they could get from a blacked out shipping label would likely not be worth their time anyway.

Try to obscure (or even cut out, if you want to sacrifice convenience for security) parts that are most sensitive, then black out everything.

In case you don't feel like buying a sharpie, I'm certain something like a nice coat of black spray paint would do the trick. But unless it's particularly sensitive information (which should never be on your package anyway. If it is, there are other issues here), worry more about making it inconvenient to retrieve, rather than impossible. Destroying a document is just on another level altogether.

  • Great info! I have a permanent marker, but with sharp point. I will buy it. Problem is they put a bill in plastic bag and stick that plastic bag on box. So to remove it we first need to tear the plastic, get the bill (which is also in our email inbox). When this plastic bag which contains the bill/address is stick on main another large plastic container, removing that plastic bag is a tough task. But combination of scissor and permanent marker would be a very good idea!
    – kirtan403
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 14:34

I recommend getting a ball-point pen the same color as your printed information, then drawing tight loops and curlicues over the top of the letters you want to obscure. The loops and curlicues will make it confusing to figure out what each letter/number is. A wide, permanent marker may still allow the letters and numbers to show through, especially on close inspection.

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Follow up the curlicues with a coating of opaque correction fluid (like Liquid Paper or Wite-Out).


Get a torch lighter. Nothing heavy duty, just a five dollar single jet. These are great for most shipping labels for a good reason:

Many of the labels used for shipping, especially Amazon and UPS, use a thermal-reactive label. This helps with the printing process on their end I believe, but it also means that a quick application from the torch can completely black out any details on your packaging.

This is, of course, with the understanding that you are a responsible adult who knows to use this method in a well ventilated area, and not to apply the torch long enough to cause the package to actually burn. It shouldn't be longer than half a second to black out the label without causing any fires. Just keep in mind that this works for most, but not all, labels like this. There are still a few ink-based labels in use and those will just burn instead of blacken from this.

  • 1
    OP has expressed a desire for eco friendly approaches; burning a fossil fuel may not meet with this. How about another source of heat such as a electric heat gun (passes the environmental problem onto the OP's choice of power plan) or even more basically a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays (insolation permitting)
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 11:13

I peel the label off carefully as not to tear it. Then I use my personal shredder. To make sure that the blades don't get clogged with the sticky adhesive, I stick the label to a piece of paper that I was already going to shred, so the blades aren't exposed to the glue. It works better than a sharpie, however, it takes a little longer and some patience. (Picking the label off is sometimes tough.) If it's stuck firmly to a cardboard box, just cut that section of box out and peel the cardboard skin off with the sticker and you'll be good to shred from there.


Personally, I use a box cutter to cut out the shipping label from cardboard boxes and later burn them when I get a sufficient pile of labels. For plastic shipping envelopes, I'll cut out most of the shipping label if I can't pull off most of the label. If I can pull off the label I'll aim for my info, a part of the shipping warehouse info, half of the barcode(s) and some of the tiny numbers underneath, and a part of the QR code when they add that to the label (rolls eyes). When I'm able to peel off the label, I stick them to documents or labels waiting to be shredded and burned so I don't waste good paper. I used to blackout labels with a black ink pen or permanent marker, but ink can be wiped away (easily or with some elbow grease) with the right solvent on certain labels (Yes, I was bored so I tested my inks), and it was a waste of good ink. Basically, for me, cutting out my shipping labels and burning them is easier to do with the grill outside in my backyard... I know this post is very late (years), but I thought my reply might be helpful to someone...


This is what works for me. Labels on packages or letters

You can easily remove by first covering the label with a piece of paper doubled or a hand towel. Heat up your iron(not too hot now)and go over the covered label a few times. The adhesive is loosened and voila! Off comes the label when pulled from the loosened corner.

In addition, the bonus is that the address/writing on the label will often smear....usually making it unreadable. I get packages all the time and this does work for me.

  • Hey, thanks for the answer. But don' you think it is a time-consuming task when you received a package every now and then?
    – kirtan403
    Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 5:38

Try sandpaper to scratch out the personal info into oblivion, should only take a few passes.


Bury the information.

A short burst of Black Enamel Gloss finish from an aerosol can of spray paint will anonymize any label. It's OPAQUE and cheap, dries fast, and stupid easy (the big three).

Another special product called Opaque "Maskout" is a spray paint that matches the cardboard box colour for a more attractive finish to re-use or for storage (in neater, less busy-looking). It's available in oyster (white) or kraft (tan).

Maskout quickly covers old markings. Makes old cartons look like new.


most, but not all labels are a thermal print type, A hot air gun will quickly ........ turn the entire label a solid black and totally unreadable. for the vinyl type I put them in a folded sheet of printer paper and run through a shredder. After running through the shredder, stop and clean the shredder.


I use Isopropyl alcohol (common drug store alcohol or clinic alcohol) on many amazon labels and similar.

The alcohol makes thermal labels turn black like if it was heated and also dilutes marker ink. Some times, it is necessary to rub parts of the label either with my fingertips or with a wipe towelette.

The alcohol also weakens paper fibers, so, in case it is not good solvent for the inks in the label, it at least makes it easier to scrape the surface with a coin or fingernail.


Take it to a local business that has document destruction shredders that will cross shred or turn to pulp.

  • 1
    Typically preferred answers here are something the OP can do at home with common household items. If you have additional questions about writing answers, please see the help center lifehacks.stackexchange.com/help
    – L.B.
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 14:28

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