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FYI: Cleaning Bottles

A common problem with older bottles is the fact that the majority of them were 'dug'. This seriously dulls the bottle and requires a lot cleaning. Here are some tips on cleaning these and other types of bottles and glass.

Mineral Deposits: Bottles, vases, and other glass objects that have been used to hold flowers or were constantly filled with water can sometimes get a crusty, white buildup on the glass surface that is difficult to remove. This buildup is caused by mineral deposits. There are certain types of bathroom/household cleaners (Lime-Away works best) that will remove lime scale and mineral deposits. Mineral deposits are often present along with staining of the glass.

Etching/Staining: White stains and cloudiness on glass is caused by the leaching, or removal, of certain components of the glass mixture over time. This often occurs on the inside of bottles that have contained a liquid or have been buried in the ground. These stains cannot be cleaned by conventional means, but must be left to a glass cleaning professional. A super fine polishing compound is typically used in a rock tumbling-type process to restore the glossy surface of the glass. The cost for this service typically ranges from $10 to $50, depending on the severity of the stain and the amount of work involved.

Dirt and other stubborn material on the glass surface and inside the bottle: Soaking in warm water with dishwashing detergent is a highly effective way to remove most dirt and stains. Let the glass soak for several hours. People have gotten good results using denture cleaning tablets or powders also.

Scratches and bruises: Minor scratches can be removed by a glass cleaning professional, but often you have little choice but to leave them alone.

Rust stains: These are often left on dug bottles and can be difficult to remove. Scrub with a non-abrasive pad or gently scrape with a piece of copper, which won't scratch the glass. Also try rust removing compounds that are available at local discount and hardware stores.

Do's: Always use a non-abrasive pad for scrubbing. Copper wool pads are available at some grocer and hardware stores, and will not scratch glass. Make sure that the copper pads are really copper and not just copper-colored or copper plated. Use soft bristled brushes for cleaning the inside of bottles. I found the softest ones in the pet isle of a local discount store with the aquarium cleaning supplies. Also, Go-Jo hand cleaning towelettes work well for polishing dull bottles.

Do not' s: Steel wool and many household synthetic scouring pads can scratch glass. BB's, sometimes used to clean the inside of bottles, can also scratch glass.

Don't want to try it yourself? Bottle valuable, but badly stained?
The professional way may be the solution:

Professional Bottle Cleaning $15 for single bottle, discounts for more than two. 
Jerry Stokes
Phone:  (412) 274-6438
Address: 11 Wilson Ave, Cheswick, PA 15024.

Bottle Doctor specializes in cleaning rare sick bottles. 
Dr. Allen in NV (702) 776-2511.

Jar Doctor does professional cleaning of jars and bottles. 
Also sell cleaning supplies (machines, canisters, oxides and accessories).
Contact: Jar Doctor, c/o R. Wayne Lowry, 401 Johnston CT, Raymore, MO 64083.
Voice: 816-318-0161, Fax: 816-318-0162, Email:

But you really want to try it yourself? More tips on cleaners:

CLR stands for Calcium, Lime, and Rust remover and it works pretty well, but usually does not remove all stain. CLR works better than Dexters. CLR probably works the same as Lime Away. CLR is available in most grocery stores in the cleaning section (along with Comet and 409).

A product called "the Works toilet bowl cleaner" contains a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid. It is the only Hydro I have ever found on the store shelf. It totally eats rust and other stains right off. Use with ventilation!!! It doesn't touch the magnesium leaching stains but nothing does.
Info courtesy of Eddie, Email:

Dexter's Stain Remover advertised as "a cure & remedy for sick glass ... for all stained antique glass ... mineral, rust, and calcium deposits".
Send inquiries with SASE to 15140 Washington St., Riverside, CA 92506.

ENVIROSOLVE 1000 is advertised as a safe, buffered Muriatic acid.
Cost $13 + $3 express delivery. Phone 1-800-347-6170.

Aldon's Grout Residue Remover is recommended as a safe alternative to Muriatic acid, which is dangerous in its pure form. 

Perry's Bottle Cleaning Machines. Own your own machine for only $195 that includes heavy duty pillowblock bearings, 1" vinyl covered shafts, schedule 80 PVC canister, and belts and pulleys (less motor). Also sell tumbling copper and cleaning oxides plus other canister sizes (4, 6 and 8 inch). Changeable bottom holders for different size & shapes of bottles and jars.
79 North High Street, Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110. Phone: (614) 837-2813.

Or order the plans from Digger Odell and make your own cleaning machine.

NOTE: I have not tried any of these products or services, nor endorse one over the other. 
I am only sharing information my research turned up. 


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