How to Reuse Glass Bottles

How to Reuse Bottles - Reused Containers on Basket

It’s no surprise that I love to reuse glass bottles – well – reuse any containers really. I’ve learned how to wash them, clean them, remove writing, and repurpose them. Depending on the container and my needs, learning how to reuse bottles and jars has become one of the easiest, money-saving sustainable practices in our home.

How to Reuse Glass Bottles

In theory EVERY container can be reused, but, honestly, that’s not the case. And, not every container can be reused for whatever purpose, so here’s my process for picking which containers to reuse, how to reuse them, and how to keep yourself organized and looking decently put together!

How to Reuse Bottles

What containers can you reuse?

When it comes to reusing containers, anything you can fairly easily wash out and then refill is a great option. This makes refill stores and refill pouches your best friend, including this refillable cleaning products brand.

My usual suspects for reuse are jars and any containers with a pump or spray nozzle at the top (e.g. lotion bottles, oil bottles (even olive oil and wine bottles), face oil bottles, hand soap containers, etc.).

Things that are almost impossible to reuse are tubes and a lot of makeup containers (mostly because they’re too hard to clean effectively or easily refill). Most makeup containers should just be recycled properly.

With all that said, I really only reuse non-food containers for non-food things. I would love to reuse some of my containers to hold some food things in our kitchen, but I rarely feel comfortable enough to do so.

It’s no surprise that I prefer to reuse glass bottles and containers over plastic, but I honestly try to reuse any decent-quality container. If I can reuse a plastic container even just one time, then it’s no longer a single-use product!

I like saving smaller containers (plastic or glass) to use as refillable travel containers as well, so don’t knock a small container – it’s handy for small spaces! See my list of the best travel size toiletries! I also use them for Beautycounter and Innersense samples to give people!

How to Reuse Containers

glass vs. plastic containers

I save glass containers as much as possible to reuse. While I’m pickier about the plastic ones, I still have those ones as well.

When it comes to picking which to use, where…I tend to reuse plastic containers to hold cleaning supplies (or whatever) that are usually stored away.

At the moment, I have a plastic vitamin bottle holding a few tablespoons of baking soda, an old lotion bottle holding castile soap, and a huge kombucha jar holding laundry soap.

I use each of these ingredients quite a bit, so I buy them in bulk and have no desire to lug out the big containers each time. You can learn about how to start buying in bulk and refill stores here.

You can see my go to clean home cleaning products to get a better idea what I refill and buy in bulk (refill pouches are great for the items I can’t get locally).

For the glass containers, I use them for EVERYTHING! I love reusing them for lotions, oils, etc. These containers are great for buying bulk and then separating everything as needed around your home!

How do you wash out containers for reuse?

For every container, you’ll want to separate all the parts. I wasn’t aware of how many parts went into a pump or spray mechanism!

Then add everything to a bowl of warm soapy water. You’ll want to make sure the soapy water gets into every container and all the crevices. For the pump/spray component, I like to pump/spritz the soapy water through it. Then let everything sit for about an hour.

After that you’ll want to rinse it all out with warm water. You’ll find that some things need some extra shaking or scrubbing. Just do the best you can. Then let air dry.

I follow this practice for any containers I’m recycling as well. If you have those beauty containers that aren’t easily refilled, be sure to recycle them properly. Nordstrom’s BEAUTYCYCLE offers free recycling drop off at their stores!

How Do You Remove Writing from Glass?

There are some beautiful containers (mostly from clean beauty and non toxic makeup products) that I want to reuse, but they’re covered in screenprint writing. Not to fret, you can actually get that writing off!

The trick is apple cider vinegar! It’s always some kind of vinegar, isn’t it?

You have to let the containers soak in the vinegar for about an hour, then you can scrub off the writing. Some of it will come off with a dense sponge or brush, but I often have to resort to steel wool or my copper sponge. Then rinse and let dry for reuse!

How to Remove Labels from Wine Bottles

How to Remove Labels from Wine Bottles

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Difficulty: easy

See how to remove labels from wine bottles easily.


  • wine bottle
  • warm soapy water
  • *optional as needed*
  • coconut oil


  • pot scraper
  • semi-abrasive sponge


  1. Fill container large enough to fit side of wine bottle (a 9x13" pan is good) with warm soapy water - about 1".
  2. Let sit in water for 30 minutes. Using pot scraper or semi-abrasive sponge, swipe the label off.
  3. Repeat as needed.
  4. For tough glue spots, use a bit of coconut oil to rub off remaining goo.

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How to Label Reused Containers?

I have a few label techniques depending on my relationship with the item or practice. That sounds silly. Let me explain!

When it came time to try out the idea of putting the baking soda, castile soap, etc. in small containers under the sink, I didn’t know if I’d love it. So why waste time with fancy labels?

If you’re just starting with something, you can certainly use a piece of tape and a marker. (a reader suggested using wine glass markers to label containers. It wipes off easily and allows you to reuse containers more than once for different things).

My next level is to print out a label with my handheld label printer – by the way, one of the best $20 purchase I’ve ever made!

So then as things become more permanent, I use DIY waterproof, oil-proof labels! I print them myself, but you can also buy then on Etsy!

Refillable Cleaning Products - Common Good Review

Try these sustainable bathroom swaps (including reusing containers). And don’t forget to check out tips for how we’re making our home more sustainable.

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  1. I make kombucha and fermented vegetables at home and so I’m always in need of reusing and relabeling glass containers. After years of tolerating expensive and/or toxic-fumy products, I’ve found that coconut oil is great for removing label residue on bottles and jars…just peel off as much paper as you can first, then smear coconut oil on the remaining paper and glue. The oil softens and even dissolves the gummy glue holding the paper on…some hot water and dish soap helps get the bottle clean. To relabel them, I use Posca fine-line paint pens…they write beautifully on glass, and it scrubs off easy as part of the regular cleaning before their next use. This might be what other people call wine glass markers, but I suspect they make a slightly more durable line.

    1. I tried coconut oil to remove labels a while back and didn’t have much luck with those tough ones, but I’ll give it another go. I hadn’t heard of Posca pens. They look way finer and more stylistic than wine glass markers. I think of the latter as similar to metallic sharpies, but they aren’t permanent. Thanks for all the tips. My reused containers are going to keep getting classier!

  2. You should try grease pencils instead of wine glass markers. They go by other names, like china marker, and won’t dry out like a marker. I’ve seen them for sale at hardware and office supply stores. The only down side is that it needs to be really hot to get a good mark on glass. It works fantastic for marking canning jars that are still hot from a water bath. Difficult to clean off of textured surfaces, though.

    1. Ooh. I’ve never even heard the name of these before, though I absolutely know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen them my whole life! I’ll have to keep an eye out for them when I’m at the hardware store next. Thanks for the great tip!

  3. 5 stars
    Such great ideas – I prefer reusing the glass containers, rather than the plastic ones as well. I find the label-makers take up too much time in my schedule, so I switched to using Wine Glass Writers since they wash off really easily when I switch out what’s inside the jar.

    1. Hi Alexa! That is a great idea! I’m going to add it into my post right now. My refill store uses similar pens to mark my containers when I take it in. I hadn’t thought of using them at home!

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