How to Clean Old Bottles: 9 Tips and Tricks to Make Them Shine

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As they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Who would have ever thought that glass bottles, one of the most common objects we neglect everyday, would essentially be a treasure to some? Well, these are the wise people who thought that there is money in empty bottles, and sometimes, these turn out to be more expensive than the liquids they used to hold!

In the recent decade, old bottles have been fetching some good amount of money from auctions.

Some good empty bottles can fetch up to a couple of hundred dollars. But mint condition bottles and antique bottles like the Remy Martin King Louis XIII can soar up to $8,000. To date, the most expensive bottle ever bought cost more than $200,000. It was an old tequila bottle from Mexico.

So if you think about it, collecting bottles isn’t so bad after all right? Who knows, the bottles you’ve kept in your storage for so long might just cost some good money.

All you have to do is check and clean them if needed. Whether you’re a collector or someone who wants to reuse items for other purposes, consider the following tips on how to clean old glass bottles and restore them.

Cleaning the Inside of Glass Bottles

If you’ve found some good old pieces of bottles that you want to reuse or preserve, cleaning the inside might be the most difficult part especially those with narrow bottlenecks.

Bottle cleaners might not make it through the hole of the bottle or not long enough to reach the bottle’s base. Water and dishwashing detergent won’t simply make the cut either especially for tough and clingy stains.

An effective way of cleaning the inside of glass bottles is actually by using non abrasive material that can go straight to the belly of the bottle. In simpler terms, these can either be salt, sand, or uncooked rice grains. And here’s how to do it.

  • Make sure that your bottle is completely empty of debris.
  • Depending on the size of your bottle, you can pour inside a cupful of rock salt, sand, or rice grains.
  • ​Fill the bottle with enough tap water to create a slurry mixture. With salt, do not pour too much water so as not to dissolve it.
  • ​Squeeze in some liquid detergent or dishwashing liquid.
  • ​Shake bottle vigorously and let the grains work through the stains.
  • Empty the bottle or repeat if necessary.

Usually, you get the inside of the bottle clean already on the first try. But some tough stains might require another round of shaking. If you’re cleaning several bottles, you can reuse the grains you used by pouring it straight to the next bottle you want to clean.

Cleaning the Outside of Glass Bottles

While some bottles have their logos or names embossed on glass, some use paper or plastic labels glued to the bottle. In this case, cleaning the outside of the bottle can be a challenge when you want to remove the label.

There are several ways to get the labels removed but it also depends on how sticky the label is. Usually stripping off a label will leave some marks on the bottle. so here are some ways on how you can deal with stubborn label marks.

  • Soak your bottle in tap water mixed with dishwashing liquid. Make sure the water is not too hot nor too cold to prevent the bottle from cracking. Leave overnight and scrape off the label marks after.
  • Another method is using a mixture of baking soda and vegetable oil. Apply the mixture on the outside of the bottle and leave for a couple of hours. Afterwards, try to scrape it off with a wet towel.
  • If the label mark is truly stubborn and cannot be removed using the first two methods, using peanut butter might just help. Dab some peanut butter on the area with the label marks and rub with your fingers. The texture of the peanut butter and the peanut oil helps get the stains off effectively.

This video shows you another easy way for how to clean old bottles:

You can also give your bottles an added polish or shine by using non abrasive materials like copper scouring pad. Non abrasive materials do not scratch the surface of glass so it is safe to use.

For glass etches, scratches, and mineral deposits, the help of a professional glass cleaner might be needed. They use machines that will help buff the glass to make it look new again.

But most often than not, following the cleaning tips above are well enough to restore old bottles back to their glory days.


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