How To Clean Glass Bottles: Easy Tips & Hacks

The quick way to clean glass bottles uses vinegar and salt

If you want to learn how to clean glass bottles, you’ve come to the right place! In this post, I’m sharing the easiest way to clean inside narrow bottles — no bottle brush required — and several other useful solutions and remedies for cleaning bottles of all shapes and sizes.

Check out how to clean inside bottles in three easy steps below. Afterward, I’ve got a few bonus tips to share that will help you clean glass bottles of any size, age, or state of griminess. (These tips work for metal bottles too!)

How To Clean Glass Bottles (Without A Brush)

Pour some coarse salt into the bottle you want to clean.

Step 1 – Add Salt

Pour around 1/4 cup of coarse salt into the bottle you want to clean. (I like to use extra-coarse ice cream salt if I happen to have it on hand, but any coarse salt will do.)

Add a splash of white vinegar to the glass bottle with the coarse salt.

Step 2 – Add Vinegar

Next, add a splash of white vinegar to the bottle. You don’t need too much — just enough to swish the salt around in.

Shake the bottle of salt and vinegar and they will scrub and clean the inside of the the glass bottle.

Step 3 – Shake!

Place your thumb or hand over the opening and give it a good, hard shake. The vinegar will help loosen the gunk clinging to the inside of the bottle while the salt scrubs it away! When you’re satisfied, dump out the salt mixture and rinse the bottle thoroughly.

More Bottle Cleaning Tips & Tricks

A bottle brush is an ideal tool for Cleaning Glass Bottles.

General Guidelines For Cleaning Glass Bottles

  • Don’t use very hot water — drastic and sudden temperature changes can crack glass.
  • Don’t use abrasives to remove labels or dirt from the surface of the glass to avoid scratches.
  • To sterilize glass bottles, place them in a deep pan, add clean water to cover them, and then boil the bottles for ten minutes. If you’re using them for food canning purposes, fill the bottles while they’re still warm — otherwise, you’ll need to re-sterilize them.
  • To clean out oily bottles, use warm water and plenty of Dawn dish soap. Shake the bottle or scrub with a bottle brush, then rinse with warm water and let dry.
Fizzy cleaning tablets are another way to clean inside glass bottles.

Other Ways To Clean Narrow Bottles Without A Brush

The salt and vinegar method I outlined earlier works great on narrow-necked bottles, but there are a few other tips you might find useful. For particularly stubborn spots of gunk inside bottles, try using a wire hanger and a paper towel like I do in my trick for cleaning inside the glass on an oven door. Straighten the hanger, wrap a paper towel or other cleaning cloth around it, then use that to reach the pesky spot.

Another way to clean very narrow-necked bottles is with my bottle-cleaning fizzy tablets. They’re easy to make with a bit of Dawn dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, salt, and baking soda! Put some warm water in the bottle, drop in a fizzy tablet, and watch it work magic!

Finally, you can also clean inside narrow bottles with baking soda and vinegar. Put equal amounts of white vinegar and warm water in the bottle to fill it about halfway. Use a funnel to add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and shake it gently, then let the soda and vinegar fizz. If the inside is still a bit dirty, add a handful of raw white rice or coarse salt and give it a good shake.

Easy tips to clean a group of colorful glass bottles sitting on a window sill.

Cleaning Vintage Bottles Safely

The safest way to clean vintage glass is to simply soak it in warm, soapy water overnight. If there are any hard water stains or mineral deposits present, use vinegar to remove them. Avoid using abrasives like steel wool or stiff scrub brushes that can scratch glass surfaces.

In some cases, vintage bottles and jars may have been sitting out in the elements for a long time, so you’ll need to be patient. It may have taken years for all that gunk to build up on the bottle, and it may take a long, long soak to get it to budge!

Bonus Tip: Love the look of vintage glass, but not the price tag? You can use craft store products to make your own faux vintage glass!

A person holding a bottle of soap in a clean sink.

Reusing Glass Bottles

After you’ve emptied a glass bottle or jar of whatever came inside it, reusing it is a no-brainer! Glass is practically infinitely reusable, plus it’s non-reactive, too. But it’s important to clean bottles before reusing them, and preferably right away — you don’t want to give any liquid or residue a chance to dry out.

Just add some warm water and a drop or two of dish soap to the bottle, give it a good shake, then use a bottle brush or bottle mop to clean the inside. (If the bottle has a label on it, oxygen bleach makes it easy to remove the labels from bottles!)

And don’t forget to clean the bottle lid, too! Remove the disk from the top of the bottle cap, if it has one, then use warm water and soap to scrub the inside and outside of the cap thoroughly. Keep and replace any rubber gaskets or o-rings, but you can toss paper ones out.

A woman holding a box of baking soda, providing cleaning tips for glass bottles.

Eliminating Lingering Odors

Glass doesn’t absorb odors like other materials can, but some liquids, like wine and vinegar, can leave behind lingering odors. Luckily, it’s nothing a little baking soda can’t fix — add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the bottle with some warm water, then shake (or scrub with a bottle brush). Let the baking soda solution sit in the bottle overnight, then rinse thoroughly.

How do you typically clean glass bottles?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • I used this tip to clean an old quart sized glass milk bottle that I like because of the size but it was brown and stained and I couldn’t get it clean. I’ve had it for years. Never has it looked so sparking clean!! I’m thrilled! Thank you Jillee for this great tip!

  • I use marble chips, the kind that you use with potted plants. Plop in a tablespoon or so and add a bit of dish detergent, water, and shake and spin the bottle until clean. Then pour out the soapy water and chips through a sieve, rinse, allow to air dry, and save the chips for next time. No waste, no pollution.

  • I am trying to clean a lovely antique clear glass bottle and came across your post. Does the vinegar cause the glass to cloud? I would like the glass to remain clear and shiny! Incidentally, I would be very scared to try Gertrude’s small stones method, suggested below. Surely they would scratch the glass?

    • Quite the opposite – vinegar is great at cleaning up any cloudiness :-) And yes, I would stick with with salt over small stones – much more gentle!

  • Years ago , while working in restaurants, we cleaned coffee pots out with crushed ice and salt. Just fill about half way with ice then a few tablespoons of salt. Swirl the ice around the pot to clean. Be careful not to hit the pot, as it will shatter. I have tried with cubes and it doesn’t work very well.

  • When I was a kid, my dad cleaned his thermos with a little dishwasher detergent and some really hot water. Swish it around and let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse. This works well on glass also.

  • I grew up in Europe and what my mother used and me too to clean bottles was to collect a handful of little stones (up to 10 mm diameter or smaller) put them in the bottle, add water and swush them around. It works great. Wash the bottle, wash the stones and let them dry. I store the stones in a little jar. My mother used the same ones all her life.

  • I used to do flowers at church and sometimes had glass vases which were just plain gross. An older parishoner taught me to drop a denture-cleaning-tablet, and warm water in for an overnight soak. Works like a charm

  • Sometimes a denture tablet, broken up to fit in the bottle, with water will work. I’ve used it on my toilet bowl, and it worked great. I’ve also used it on yucky flower vases that have gone funky.

  • Oxyclean also works well. Looked in Hubby’s one quart thermos (he doesn’t let me clean it) one day and realized it was BLACK. Put a scoop of oxyclean in and some hot water and watched the volcano effect. Black chunks came out with the white foam. (do this in the sink) Was fun to watch.

  • For gunky bottles or for bleaching stains off insides of white coffee mugs, I keep a box of dishwasher detergent around (even though I’m the dishwasher) Hot water a bout a teaspoon of the soap and letting stand for awhile loosens and lets you easily rinse away most if not all of the yucky stuff!

  • Cheap dollar store denture cleaning tablets work great also. I use one in my hummingbird feeder to get the gunk left by bugs getting in it. Just drop one in, add warm water and let the blue bubbles do the work. Just rinse clean. I use to clean our reusable water bottles also. the ones that have the small holes are hard to get a brush in.

  • Denture cleaning tablets also work great on cleaning bottles and vases that are gunked up. Just another tip to add to the arsenal…

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