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How to use water activated tape and top 3 tips to apply it right

How to use water activated tape and top 3 tips to apply it right

If you’re looking to boost efficiency in your shipping department while also enhancing safety and avoiding theft, the water-activated tape is your best option.

However, many consumers are unsure how to use water activated tape because of a lack of familiarity with this product. To further understand water-activated tape and how to apply it properly, let’s take a look at the following article.

What makes water activated tape different?

What is water activated tape?

A water-activated tape‘s primary component is a paper base and an adhesive made from starch. It may consist entirely of paper, or it may include many layers of paper bound together with fiberglass or polyethylene threads for durability. The adhesive is “activated” by water, and then it seeps into the carton material. In this way, the tape bonds firmly with the carton, making it difficult to open.

The adhesive is activated by water then it seeps into the carton material
The adhesive is activated by water then it seeps into the carton material

What makes water activated tape different from others

Stronger and more durable

Water-activated tape is more durable than plastic alternatives. The plastic tapes are vulnerable in shipping because they tear easily and are sensitive to pressure. As compared to regular tape, the water-activated tape is strengthened such that it is difficult to pierce, hard to shred, and sticks to surfaces like glue.


As the glue penetrates deeply into the boxes, it is easy to see any tampering, which discourages theft. On the other hand, regular plastic tapes are easily removed, allowing access to the contents without leaving any signs of tampering.


The water-activated tape is very sturdy and resistant to dust, grime, cold, and heat. Due of its durability, gum tape is among the most long-lasting adhesives available. It bonds securely to cartons, making it impenetrable to moisture and protecting contents from damage. Moreover, the water-activated tape is recyclable and its use of coreless rolls reduces waste and simplifies roll changes.

Ideal for printing (branded tape)

When seeking tape that can be printed on, the water-activated tape is a terrific option. The tape has a sleek finish and is easy to roll out, making it an excellent choice for labeling purposes.

How to activate paper gummed tape with water?

“How to use water activated tape” may be the common wonder of many people. As its name implies, water activated tape requires a tool ready to moisten and activate the adhesive before it can be used. So, how is adhesive on packaging tape activated? Manual and machine-using methods are available to assist you in getting started, and your choice will likely rely on the nature and scale of your company.

How to use water activated tape without dispenser (use sponges)

Using a common sponge is the quickest and easiest way when it comes to how to use water activated tape without a dispenser. It is an ideal starting point for new small enterprises.  First, you should moisten a sponge and lightly dampen the tape. As soon as it’s active, you may apply it to your preferred surface and check that everything stays put.

How to use water activated tape with dispenser 

Manual tape dispenser

Sponges work well when you’re just starting, but you’ll need something heftier as your business expands. In this case, manual water-activated dispensers come in handy to answer “how to use water activated tape”.

They are simple to include in any packing station and don’t call for extensive training for new employees. Not only do they not require any electricity, but they are also portable. If you’re just packing under 50 cartons each day and don’t have constant access to electricity, these manual machines are all you need.

You can activate the tape with manual dispensers which don't require any electricity
You can activate the tape with manual dispensers which don’t require any electricity

Electric tape dispenser

An electric dispenser is a technologically advanced tool that helps activate more rolls of tape by automatically feeding, moistening, and cutting the tape to the necessary length. If you’re a big company with many boxes to tape up, electric dispensers are the solution to “how to use water activated tape.”

Electric water-activated tape dispensers are the way to go for high-volume packing jobs or sealing boxes of varying sizes. If you need to package more than 50 items daily, these tape dispensers will do the job quickly and efficiently.

Mechanical and electrical dispensers are divided into different categories based on size and usage. If you want to know more, check out our articles: “What is the best type of water activated tape dispenser?”

How to apply water activated tape right 

For sponge method

Using sponges as a solution for “how to use water activated tape” can be successful if you follow these steps:

  • Before you wet the tape, cut it to the correct length.
  • Ensure your tape is at least 6 inches longer than the longest side of the box. This will enable a better secure closing.
  • You should use water that is warm, not hot; water about 110 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.
  • Soak the sponge thoroughly, but it shouldn’t be dripping when you apply it to the tape.
  • Put the sponge on the tape’s adhesive surface after you’ve already cut a piece of water activated packing tape to size. Apply little pressure and move quickly yet smoothly over the tape’s sticky surface.
  • Don’t make more than one pass over the sticky area. Repetitively rubbing the sponge against the sticky surface of the tape will cause the glue to wear away, reducing the tape’s effectiveness.
  • After a few seconds of activating the adhesive, apply the tape on the box’s main panel flap. Then, apply firm pressure to the tape to help it embed itself into the corrugated box.

For machine method

With the question “how to use water activated tape”, the water activated packing tape dispenser is another answer. Typically, these machines fall into one of two categories: manual and electronic. For this method, you have to follow these below steps:

  • To correctly load the tape into the dispenser, position the full roll in its designated location. Then, set the leading edge of the tape over the rear guide. Next, pass the tape through the front guide and close the lid.
  • Ensure there’s enough water in the tank so that the adhesive is properly moist.
  • Choose the required length of tape by measuring the gap size to be sealed and adding three inches on each end for the overlap. If the dispenser is electronic, find the number corresponding to your need and press the button; otherwise, if it’s manual, pull the lever. The added space of 3 inches on each side guarantees a tight seal.
  • Get your tape out and begin sealing
  • Now, you are ready to handle your sealed box.
You also can use electronic dispensers
You also can use electronic dispensers

How to use water activated tape firmly

Knowing how to use water activated tape is not enough, you have to get to know how to use water activated tape so that it can seal your box firmly. This will ensure the safe of your goods during the delivery. 

The following tips can help you:

  • Having enough water is the key to success when applying the water activated gum tape.
  • Warm water, instead of hot or cold, is ideal for activating water-activated tape. For best adhesive activation, we advise using water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep the box’s surface where you put the tape clean and dust-free.
  • Stick the tape firmly, do not move it after it has been placed on the box’s side. Then leave it there until it is completely dry and firm.

How to take off water-activated tape

When removing the water-activated tape, you will discover that no adhesive surface can be resealed. Because of this, it is very resistant to tampering. If you take it off, you can never put it back on, and anybody who tries will be realized. 

Compared to many ways to use water activated tape, the ease of removing water-activated tape will surprise you. If the water-activated tape isn’t reinforced, it may be easily cut, and if it is, it can be pulled off at the edges.


It is now evident that water-activated tape is the best in terms of package security, eco-friendliness, and branding. Tape that activates when exposed to water is the next step in maximizing efficiency, minimizing waste, strengthening security, and maximizing brand awareness. We hope this post has shed some light on water activated tape, its advantages, and especially how to use water activated tape. Now is the time for your business to use water-activated tape to stay on top, provide consumer confidence, and utilize your delivery to promote brand image.


About Aaron Miller

Meet Aaron Miller - the master of all stickers and labels types available at CustomAny! With the most in-depth knowledge across our product range, Aaron is your go-to for insightful articles. If you are seeking strategic tips for using stickers in your own business, he also is here to provide you with valuable insights to elevate your brand. Stay tuned for Aaron's articles, your shortcut to the right decisions in incoporating our custom stickers and labels.