Introduction: Clean a Bottle Without a Brush

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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

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A bottle that needs cleaning.
A spoon.
Dish Soap.

Step 2: A Spoonful of Rice

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Just a plain teaspoon full should do. You can add more if it's a big bottle, but it doesn't take a lot. Don't put it in yet.

Step 3: A Squirt of Soap

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Any kind of dish soap is okay. You don't need to add much, just enough to "glue" the rice together on the spoon. (About half a teaspoon here.) You don't need to mix it in.

Step 4: Slide It In

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Tip the contents of the spoon slowly into the bottle. The soap acts as "glue" so the rice doesn't spill all over your kitchen.

Step 5: Add Water

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Fill up the bottle about halfway with water (more than in this pic)

Step 6: Swirl and Rotate

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Cap the open end with your finger and gently shake, rotate, and invert the bottle, so the rice grains come in contact with the glass.

Step 7: Rinse

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Empty the bottle and give it a really good rinse, to get all the soap out. Ta da!

(If you're doing this for a hummingbird feeder, you can also give it a rinse in a mild bleach solution before the final rinse.)


frog4 (author)2017-07-09

I got an idea from Paizley's comment of using aquarium gravel by using BB's. I had a small tube of stainless steel BB's and along with a few drops of Dawn and hot water and my irregular shaped bottle is now reusable as a drinking vessel. Thanks Paizley.

paizley (author)2017-01-20

Funnel is the way to go with the rice. I used more and had to maneuver the rice around to where the "dirt" was. The bottle is shaped like a flask so had flat sides. I think coarse sand would be good or aquarium gravel. Would be reusable and not pouring food down the drain.

mondzdolo (author)2016-12-30

Excellent tutorial! This got my sodastream bottle shiny and new again :) Thanks teenage aesthete!!

teenage aesthete (author)2016-06-20

Thanks for all the positive comments, I'm glad this instructable has been useful.

I know many of you have been adding lots more rice than recommended - try it next time with less. It's not the amount of rice (or the size or weight of the rice alternatives suggested) but the centrifugal action of the grains on the glass surface as you swirl it around that cleans your bottle. And you'll have a few more bites of rice for dinner!

ActorMike (author)2016-06-19

Worked like a charm, but as others have said, I used a lot more rice in my glass feeder.

nortok00 (author)2016-05-19

This worked like a charm for my hummingbird feeder that is oval shaped. I tried everything to clean it but nothing got the stuff off that had adhered to the neck of the bottle. The only thing I did different. 1. I tried with the recommended amount of rice and it wasn't enough. I instead used about a half cup so it really filled the neck area of the bottle and I used less water so it was really ricey. 2. I used a funnel to put the rice in. I tried the spoon and soap and it still went everywhere. I added a bit of soap directly to the bottle after the rice was in. 3. The stuff I was cleaning was so stuck on I was swirling for awhile which caused a bunch of the rice to cement itself to the bottom of the bottle. Luckily I had some of those dollar store bamboo skewers on hand. I just stuck one of those in there and it peeled away all the stuck on rice.

september.whisenant (author)2016-05-08

I purchased a gallon jug at a yard sale that had some kind of very unattractive brown residue all in it, with the bottom being especially gunky. After trying both hot soapy water and apple cider vinegar with minimal results, I tried this method using more rice due to the size of the jug. It worked great on the sides but the bottom needed more work. Reasoning that I needed more abrasive, I rinsed it out, added more dry rice (without any detergent), some Comet cleanser, a little water and swirled in around. In less than a minute, the bottom was clean. I am tickled I was able to get such great results with items I already had on hand!

PuffgirlS_ (author)2016-04-28


PuffgirlS_ (author)2016-04-28


mark.veri.90 (author)2016-04-06

ok, so i was having issues with my CamelBak(for those who dont know what that is click here anyways, my camelbak made my water and portien shake taste funky. so i decided to give her a cleaning. and if you have a camelbak make sure it has the Quickconnect system and can be removed from the bag. so i tried soap to no avail. i tried the rice(i used thai noodles since i am on a student salary) and it worked beautifully, that shaking was the hard part. had to find a way to shake it and support the silicon bag in the process(so it didnt puncture or burst). but it still has the faint after taste of soap but thats be be expected, and will go away after a few uses. and if you are asking why i have one if im a student(they are well over the 200$ mrk for a good one) i do alot of mountain cross racing(local) so it comes in SUPER handy. but all in all thanks for the tip :). if it worked on a silicon bag, it would be cool to see just what this works on

DimaH (author)2015-11-21

This is just amazing. This helped me clean bottles with thin heads that had olive oil inside. The bottles were very greasy and I never imagined this would work. It worked perfectly. I added warm water instead! Thanks

LeighaO1 (author)2015-10-15

This worked perfectly! I had a beer bottle i had to return to the company due to a piece of glass being found in it. They came to pick it up about 3 weeks later and by that time, the bottom was all moldy. I didnt want to give them a moldy bottle so i did this method. The mold was pretty darn stubborn so i did have to add a couple pennies to really pick it up. But im so excited this worked!

SC-Ghost (author)2015-09-16

This is why I love instructables. I started to notice that my narrow mouth water bottle was getting grimy. I was able to run my finger around the top of the inside and it was pretty gross. I tried shaking it with soapy water to no avail, even after letting it soak. I followed this instructable and it is clean as ever after only a minute or so of shaking. Amazing.

MuttannaP (author)2015-07-22

robopancake made it! (author)2015-03-15

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. :)

ckngbbbls (author)2014-11-25

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.

mi1ez (author)2014-10-31

Salt also works. Plenty of salt and a little water.

MFGreth made it! (author)2014-10-13

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

greeneyez (author)2014-05-14

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.

deborah.jones.10 (author)2014-09-06

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.

gellis2 (author)2014-07-11

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!

knappinggirl (author)2013-04-04

sounds like rice and balls hard to corral if cleaning bottles frequently. how about a length of dogtag chain.

MidiaN_76 (author)2012-09-15

Fantastic! Thanks so much! Worked perfectly!

fredellarby (author)2012-01-16

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.

lindariles (author)2010-08-09

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.

Batmancaver (author)2010-07-19

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_angie (author)2010-06-09

YAY! now i can FINALLY wash out my Sigg Water Bottle!!Thanx so much

deberickson (author)2009-01-02

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 works great!

tradergordo (author)2008-05-02

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.

visus (author)2007-02-26

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 (author)visus2007-07-01

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 (author)Rectifier2007-07-02

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 (author)visus2007-07-03

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.

przem (author)2007-02-26

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.

theRIAA (author)2007-02-25

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

WesDoesStuff (author)2007-02-25

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

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Bio: I was a teenage aesthete. Now I am a middle-aged aesthete.
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