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The secret to cleaning vintage narrow neck bottles using an inexpensive household product #vintage #1905farmhouse #farmhousestyle

So before the days of garbage service, it was very common to throw a lot of unused items in a hole in the ground or on burn piles. And that is how I came to inherit a huge box of vintage bottles. I didn’t get the whole story but I do know that they were dug out of the dirt near my parent’s house, which use to be my Grandparent’s house that was built in the early 1900s.

My parents moved to their house back in 2005 and sometime around there these bottles were all dug out of the dirt. You can imagine what kind of condition they are in considered they were buried in mud for over 50 years! There were broken bottles, these were thrown away (using traditional garbage service) but any bottle that was whole made it into this box. Now fast forward to now and I had long thought this box of glass bottles had been thrown away years ago. But when going through my parent’s garage we uncovered the box and I volunteered to take the whole thing. I would love to use some of the bottles as a display in our house.

Old vintage bottles that desperately need cleaning

But first, they needed to be cleaned.

And as you know most vintage bottles are hard to clean. Most had narrow necks which make getting scrub brushes into all the nooks and crannies challenging. So today I wanted to share my little secret for getting those hard to reach spots on the inside of any bottle that has a narrow neck.

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Materials Needed to Clean Vintage Bottles

Now, these bottles have been sitting in a box for over 10 years and before that in the ground for 50 + years, they were filthy and grimy. To start I took a large pot, filled it with water and a couple of hefty glugs of vinegar (no need for measuring here). I turned the stovetop on to warm the water/vinegar mixture but not bring it to a boil. I let the jars sit in this mixture for the better part of a day and some overnight (I was lazy and was done for the day!)

Bottles soaking in a water/vinegar solution and heated to help remove dirt and grime

After they had cooled or sat overnight I took the scrub brush and some Dawn dish soap (the blue kind, the only one I will use, it’s the best!) and generous cleaned the outside and what I could reach of the inside. DON’T throw out your vinegar/water solution, it will come in handy later. Some of the jars were rusty on the outside so the steel wool came in handy on those tough areas.

Now The Secret

The secret to cleaning narrow neck bottles is a fan pull chain

This is a fan pull/ball chain and you can find it for about $3-$6 at your local hardware store or Amazon, the price will depend on the length and how many come in a package. In my case it had a ring on the end, I just detached the ring and put the chain inside the bottle and shook it vigorously around with some of the water/soap/vinegar mixture. The chain helps break up any hard stuck-on dirt and then easily comes back out of the bottle!

A fan pull chain easily fits inside narrow neck bottles and when shaken with water helps loosen dirt inside

And there you have it! It’s such an inexpensive product that can get at that hard stuck-on dirt and leave you with beautifully clean vintage bottles that can be used in your home decor or crafting.

The secret to cleaning the inside of vintage narrow neck bottles

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2 Comments on The Secret to Cleaning Narrow Old Vintage Bottles

  1. Oh thank you for this excellent article. I was lucky to be able to collect old bottles when we moved into our new home aftet my husband got transferred. At the time of collection, the general consensus was that ‘sick’ bottles could not be cleaned to clear glass again. I maintained that the day will come when somebody has a solution. Al last. Now I can retrieve my bottles and start cleaning. Eureka! I have found it. The solution to my problem! Thank you Amy.

    • June! I woke up to your message this morning and it made me so happy! I am so glad this helped. Where there is a will there is a way! And I love using my bottles in my decor now that they are all clean!

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