How should I clean my bottles and containers before filling them?

If the container in question is new from a reputable supplier it should not require any cleaning. If it appears dirty (ew), 1) stop buying from that supplier and 2) wash it by hand and then either send it through a hot dishwasher or mist with 70% isopropyl alcohol or a 5% bleach solution and leave to dry.

If you are looking to re-use something, there are a few things to consider. Not everything can be safely cleaned and re-used. I’ve talked more about this in this video on DIYing and Single Use Plastics as well.

Open jars & tubs

These sorts of things are typically quite easy to clean as you can easily access all of it. I will typically wash them by hand and then send them through my dishwasher, which gets steaming hot. You can also mist/swish things with 70% isopropyl alcohol or a 5% bleach solution and leave them to dry. Be sure to watch for deep scratches in your jars that can harbour bacteria.


These can be a bit trickier to clean, especially if the opening is small and they’ve contained something quite oily/greasy. If they are glass I will wash by hand as well as possible before sending through the dishwasher. I typically recycle plastic bottles after a single use (I’ve had some melt in the dishwasher!).

Complex caps & pumps

These need to be recycled after a single use; they have far too many complex nooks and crannies to be safely cleaned and re-used. I’ve tried, and I always end up noticing a slurry of mold somewhere in the pumping mechanism after a couple weeks—ew!

An exception to this is re-filling; if you’ve made a big batch of something like a foaming hand wash, feel free to keep refilling your foamer bottle with that hand wash. Do not try to clean it first! As long as the solution you’re sending through the pump is always a properly made and preserved finished product, you’re fine.

Lip balm tubes

These are best as a single use product as well. They are almost always filled with a very waxy/greasy product that is extremely difficult to clean out of all the little nooks and crannies of the tube, and they are so inexpensive that you will waste more money, detergent, and time trying to clean them than you would if you recycled them and used a new one.

Want to learn more about my favourite types of packaging? I made a video on it!

Posted in: General Usage