Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great week-end. I had several hours all to myself on Friday (never happens!) and cleaned like a crazy woman. I vacuumed and steam-cleaned rugs. I scrubbed bathrooms and I organized the kitchen. Yay me!! I know you all know how good that feels. Saturday’s reward was a morning spent in Saratoga Springs with my sweet husband. We took a walking tour of Congress Park, popped into the Saratoga Springs History Museum, and ate a delicious lunch at Boca Bistro. What, no shopping you say?!! That’s right, no shopping, but that does not mean there will be no vintage finds tomorrow. There are always vintage finds–make sure to come back. Today I’m posting some promised tricks on how to clean dirty old bottles.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, my tips won’t clean every single spot off of every single bottle, but they will return many of them to their original sparkle and shine.
Remember this big old box of bottles from last week? I decided to get busy cleaning them right away.
I pulled out all of my trusty tools for cleaning old bottles: bottle brushes of various sizes, small pebbles, small lead fishing weights, and Bar Keepers Friend.
I chose five bottles from the box to start with, trying to get a good cross-section of various sizes, shapes, and colors. The first task is to rinse them out and wash the outsides with some dish soap and a sponge with a scrubby side. With the surface dirt removed and some of the interior dirt as well, you can get a better look at what’s going to give you the real trouble!
After the initial rinsing, each bottle still retained dirt stuck into interior nooks and crannies . Your set of bottle brushes come into play at this point and will remove a large amount of that crud.
When I’m at garage sales, I keep my eye out for bottle brushes of all shapes and sizes since newer ones especially tend to break with a lot of vigorous scrubbing. I really like vintage brushes best because they tend to be better quality and come in unique sizes that can be very helpful in tight spots. The older ones can also be more easily bent to help you reach those spots.
If after scrubbing with the bottle brush, problem areas remain, like the interior rust on this aqua bottle,
then I like to sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend inside (or on the end of the brush) and give that a go.
Likewise, use your Bar Keepers Friend to remove rust and other crud that may be clinging to the exterior of your bottle.
If you still have dirt, rust, or other materials stuck inside your bottle, then it’s time to try a mixture of small pebbles (or aquarium gravel) and lead fishing weights (or lead shot). The size and weight of these two combined with remove a lot of stubborn debris, but you have to be patient and do lots of shaking and spinning and more shaking and more spinning. Try side to side and circular swirling as you focus on your problem areas.
Still have some issues? Fill your bottles with water and let them soak. Sometimes this “softens” the crud and makes it vulnerable to re-scrubbing. Last ditch efforts: Add some bleach or try straight vinegar. I’ll be honest, neither of these has ever proven successful for me, but I know others who seem to have had success.
So how did my bottles turn out? Pretty well, wouldn’t you say? The one remaining problem lies within the lovely aqua blue one–some very stubborn rust that simply would not give up.
You can see, however, on the small clear square bottle that I removed the exterior rust [easily] with the Bar Keepers Friend. [The marks on the right shoulder have something to do with the lighting.]
The Coca Cola bottle cleaned up nicely, as did the two others. I hope you found a new idea or two to add to your arsenal of ideas for cleaning antique bottles. In the near future, I’ll be writing a post about some of these bottles, identifying and dating them and offering some suggested values. Hope to see you back here tomorrow for some vintage finds!
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