You can clean narrow-neck bottles, even ones that are a weird shape - like my hummingbird feeder - for free, without a brush.

Step 1: Tools

Picture of Tools
A bottle that needs cleaning.
A spoon.
Dish Soap.
MuttannaP1 month ago
robopancake made it!5 months ago
Fantastic!! I had a larger bottle with a narrow neck, so I just added several tablespoons of rice via a funnel, added the soap and a little water and shook away. Got all the gunk out in short order. :)
ckngbbbls9 months ago

Fine gravel works even better as it has sharp edges and is varied in size AND doesn't get soft. When I was a kid, we used a hand full of gravel to clean any bottle that had a narrow neck.

mi1ez10 months ago
Salt also works. Plenty of salt and a little water.
MFGreth made it!10 months ago

Used this method with orzo pasta to clean my guinea pig's water bottle (minus the bleach step). Worked extremely well, thank you!

greeneyez1 year ago

Excellent idea! Glad you mentioned the diluted bleach rinse so no residual soap (toxic). Red food dye is unhealthy too. Love those little guys!

Liked the bleach to the soap and rice and water. It helped LOTS.

I had an old and very re-used Worcestshire bottle (bigger than a wine bottle) that has been rinsed, re-filled and rinsed, re-filled innumerable times over the years. FINALLY decided to finish and clean bottle before re-use this time. Could NOT get the sauce stains out. Used your rice and soap and water (to which I added bleach) and it was WONDERFUL. Worked like a charm. It is now back in the Fridge full again. THANKS.

gellis21 year ago

Brilliant! Worked on a VERY heavily stubborn mold that had soaked for 2 days in bleach & Dawn - with no improvement whatsoever. Then I put the rice in and VOILA!!! . THANKS!

sounds like rice and balls hard to corral if cleaning bottles frequently. how about a length of dogtag chain.
MidiaN_762 years ago
Fantastic! Thanks so much! Worked perfectly!
fredellarby3 years ago
It's a great system and better than a bottle brush.
I've used BB's, washers, clay cat littler.
My old favorite diner used pennies for the coffee pots.
lindariles5 years ago
Thank you! This procedure worked for me perfectly well. I used a tiny amount of bleach with rice and rinsed over and over to be sure I got rid of any and all residue. The hummingbird bottle became spotless and I couldn't have gotten the tiny bit of mold out with my brush.
Batmancaver5 years ago
I use a product called "Magic Balls" - Honest! Essentially it's a tub of small copper ball bearings. They act the same way as the rice and as copper is soft it doesn't harm the bottle in any way. I use it to clean antique bottles I've found. You just need to make sure that your balls are clean and dry before you put them away otherwise they can corrode!
i_be_angie5 years ago
YAY! now i can FINALLY wash out my Sigg Water Bottle!!Thanx so much
deberickson6 years ago
Good idea, I haven't posted anything but comments to Instructables, but another good thing to use is the granular stuff (tiny colored rocks) found in the bottom of a fish tank. When you are done cleaning the bottle, you can empty the granuals into a screen colinder and dry them and reuse them. Sorry for any mis-spelling... My mother taught me this trick....it works great!
tradergordo7 years ago
Another thing that works well and is really is, add some powdered dish detergent that contains enzymes (generic version of cascade is very inexpensive and you don't need a lot). This stuff is naturally abrasive, and the enzymes work wonders. I fill containers (including very soiled glass carboys) half way, do some shaking, then fill to the top and let it sit in the sun for the day. I was amazed the first time I did this with a really badly soiled glass carboy, it came out beautifully clean. Just rinse with a hose or sprayer.
visus8 years ago
depending on what needs to be cleaned, use a 5% bleach solution at your discretion. when i let stuff sit in my nalgenes for too long and they get mold/mildew, i'll let a bleach solution sit in them for an afternoon and then scrub them out if need be.
Rectifier visus8 years ago
Bleaching nalgenes is both bad for them and you. The bleach reacts with the polycarbonate plastic to release bisphenol A - a dangerous estrogen-mimicking toxin. A bleached nalgene is destroyed, it will leach bisphenol A in toxic amounts forever, as well as getting a pitted surface that is more likely to gather bacteria and mold. Unfortunately, now you have to toss them out. I never knew until last week. Now you know too. I tossed all mine out - stainless steel from here on, for me. Don't want bottles that I can't clean properly... and I used to be a huge nalgene fan, too.
visus Rectifier8 years ago
Yell, you can toss them if you want to, but I've had a couple of Nalgenes for years and i still use them. I've never gotten sick from one ... as long as you don't let them sit around for a week and then drink them again, you should be fine. Bacteria that is introduced into the Nalgene water is 99% from your mouth and body anyway, and your immune system is already used to it.

I heard about BPA years ago. I've done some research and I don't think it's a big deal. There are more harmful toxins in many municipal water supplies, in the air, and in what we eat (like fish). There's a lot of literature and websites on it, so look around:

I never heard about bleach being a leachng accelerant ... I just emailed them. So if it does raise the BPA leaching significantly, I may throw them out.
Rectifier visus8 years ago
From the first source I can think of, wikipedia article on polycarbonate: "One point of agreement among those studying polycarbonate water and food storage containers may be that using sodium hypochlorite bleach and other alkali cleaners to clean polycarbonate is not recommended, as they catalyze the release of the Bisphenol-A. The tendency of polycarbonate to release bisphenol A was discovered after a lab tech used strong cleaners on polycarbonate lab containers. Endocrine disruption later observed on lab rats was traced to exposure from the cleaned containers." A table at the bottom of the article shows compounds that have known interactions with polycarbonate plastics. Notable is that hydrolysis becomes a concern with water above 60C, as is the solution they give for killing mold without damaging the bottle: Borax in a ratio of between 1:96 or 1:8. I did a lot of reading regarding BPA leaching a week ago while considering buying a nice set of Lexan plates/bowls/cups for my van. As tea is what I usually put in cups, and water above 60C is not recommended, I didn't buy them. Personally I don't care about bacteria at all. All my nalgenes, however, had been bleached due to mold, and I didn't know any other good way to get rid of mold. I always noticed they had no smell/taste leaching when I bought them, but somewhere along the way started making water taste and smell plasticky after a day on the trail. I wonder, if the bleach issue applies to chlorine-based water purifiers too, as I use them when I'm backpacking. Perhaps this could explain the plastic taste.
przem8 years ago
Well done! For cleaning my wine fermentation bottle I use sand or very fine gravel. It is heavy and abrasive enough to remove all sediments and stains. Coarse salt with small amount of water should also work well.
theRIAA8 years ago
nice idea, i think rice is the best size, it dosent have to be heavy, the water does all the moving. seems like you should try pouring in some window cleaner, denture tablets, or strong acid or something
i'de figure you would need something heavier to do this efficently maybe a sponge with bbs in it or a cloth covered ball bearing. if you say it works good then i believe you : ) great instructable too