Asked on Oct 04, 2015

Old bottles buried in a rural dumpsite for decades I want them clean

by Laurie
They are discolored mainly on the inside. I ran them through the dishwasher to see how they ended up. The dirt was gone. I tried soaking in vinegar next and after a day or so used a toothpaste to assist. Not impressive. 409, eh. Who knows the secret? I would rather not melt the paint off of the outside of the bottles because there is some local history there. Thanks for your help.
  32 answers
  • CK CK on Oct 04, 2015
    If they're clean but still look a little discolored on the inside, maybe you could call it quits and say "Hey the discoloration is part of the history of these bottles." ;-)
  • Sharon Sharon on Oct 04, 2015
    I had some old jars that I soaked in pure vinegar for several days and they came clean except for etching that had occurred over time. thus would not work if u untend to keep the labels in tact.
  • Andrea S Andrea S on Oct 04, 2015
    Soak them in CLR to get them shiny. If there is paint inside, if it's oil paint, swish with turpentine and rinse. Swish with goof off if it is latex. The thing is goof off is really expensive, it comes in a small can. So after the rinse pour it back into a can and reuse it. Use it outside because it stinks. Eventually it will evaporate so close the bottles with something while you swish so you don't run out too fast. If it doesn't take the paint off completely, it will soften it at the least, so use a bottle brush to move the paint out of the bottle. Do not mix chemicals.
  • Lori Johansen Lori Johansen on Oct 04, 2015
    Have you tried "LA's Totally Awesome" de-greaser/cleaner? Works great for us! You can find it at the Dollar Tree stores.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Oct 04, 2015
    Even though all the above suggestions seem valid, what you have is something called "sick glass." There is no real way to bring it back to what you want it to be, that is, clear and shiny. A way to minimize the look of the cloudiness, you can wipe a very thin film of mineral oil over the outside. That will somewhat lessen the foggy/cloudy appearance. You will not get rid of the damage done to the glass. Having sat in the dump/ground for years is what caused the glass to get "sick." Minerals from the soil and other pollutants have etched the glass.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 04, 2015
    ok so dont give up there may be a another solution. Try denture cleaner.
  • Karen hayes Karen hayes on Oct 06, 2015
    I've had good luck with rice, just put some in the bottle and shake (a lot). Just use a cheap long grain type rice
  • Gail lichtsinn Gail lichtsinn on Oct 06, 2015
    These may be etched from the elements..If they are theres no fix i know of
  • Theresa Bradshaw Theresa Bradshaw on Oct 06, 2015
    I personally like these bottles the way they are and I know a lot of collectors do too. I've sold quite a few like that. I've gotten mine from old ranch dump sites, and sold them at flea markets and on eBay.
    • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Oct 06, 2015
      @Theresa Bradshaw I was just going to say the same thing. If you want to keep them, clean them as best you can. But part of the "distress" is what makes them appealing...especially to people who love old bottles.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Oct 06, 2015
    What a treasure you have found!! I have picked out the ones I want so don't do a thing to them! HA! I am a bottle freak! I love the shapes, the color...they make me happy! (Freaky!) I have no suggestions for you except clean them as much as you can and enjoy!
  • Anne Anne on Oct 06, 2015
    Try some over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide in a couple of bottles. Pour it in full strength;let it set for 20 minutes; brush/scrub out what you can with an old electric toothbrush. Good luck.
  • LuAnne Larson LuAnne Larson on Oct 06, 2015
    I like the way they are, make a lovely fall grouping with the brown esp!
  • Nora Dolan Nora Dolan on Oct 06, 2015
    Try some CLR; it will help with some of the problems, at least.
  • Linda Santo Linda Santo on Oct 06, 2015
    I have some old glass telephone insulators with the crusted black all over them. I soaked them in Wood Bleach (oxalic) amazing!
  • Mary trevena Mary trevena on Oct 06, 2015
    Try false teeth cleaner and rice. Let the cleaner work over nite and put the rice in in morning and shake. Can repeat. Mary
  • Mary trevena Mary trevena on Oct 06, 2015
    Try false teeth cleaner and rice. Let the cleaner work over nite and put the rice in in morning and shake. Can repeat. Mary
  • Z Z on Oct 08, 2015
    Personally, I'd think of it as patina and live with it. As you said the painted labels are part of it's local history. It's like its wrinkles. They give them character.
  • Lisa Lisa on Oct 08, 2015
    Oxiclean is actually a really good cleaner. make a little blend with some warm water, and then you can pour it inside (to keep outsides as they are) or soak entire bottle. You will see it bubbling away while it's cleaning. (A similar product is used in breweries to power away scale, etc, from bottles & other equipment.) Just rinse well as commercial Oxiclean has a little fragrance, if you will put drink into the bottles later.
  • Patrick Mack Patrick Mack on Oct 08, 2015
    i buy vantage toilet bowl cleaner. put bottles in toilet and let them soak, not really a shitty job at all...
  • Penny Stinson Penny Stinson on Oct 08, 2015
    I use Oxy-clean for this kind of thing (bottles, coffee pot). Put about a teaspoon in each bottle, fill up with hot water, leave overnight. Swirl a bottle brush in and rinse. If it's not all out, do it again.
    • Laurie Laurie on Oct 10, 2015
      @Penny Stinson Thanks. I will try this. It didn't occur to me. I'll report back.
  • Pam Ruby Pam Ruby on Oct 09, 2015
    When you get hard water build up inside or out there is a product called Lemi Shine and it removes tough spots and film and makes the glass shine again. It is in the grocery isle and it is a detergent booster but I run it in the dishwasher when your glass has a film and buildup film of hard water. Actually I like the look of the some of the bottles as you say "gives them character and it does make them look antique" Pam Ruby, Burley, ID
    • Laurie Laurie on Oct 10, 2015
      @Pam Ruby Thank you. I'll look for it. I have some general vases that could use this. I have the bottles in OxiClean right now. ??
  • Jinny Wilson Jinny Wilson on Oct 09, 2015
    Don't wash away their character!
    • Laurie Laurie on Oct 10, 2015
      @Jinny Wilson Dump character? Kidding. I hear you. Thanks.
  • Ter2578248 Ter2578248 on Oct 09, 2015
    Soaking in white vinegar should remove hard water scale. To remove any dirt on the inside of a bottle, try using a bottle brush. If that still doesn't work, try some hot, soapy water and either bb's or small gravel inside the bottle. Shake well and the rocks/bb's will scrub the inside of the bottle clean.
  • CAmom CAmom on Oct 10, 2015
    We used to clean our glass coffee pots with salt, lemon and ice. Pour a bunch of salt in, a little squeeze of lemon, and ice from the vending machine, so small chunks. (at home I bash up some cubes) For the smaller openings you might have to crush it pretty small - then swirl. The ice and salt scrub the gunk. The acid in the lemon helps cut the film and deposits.
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Oct 10, 2015
    I bought some denture cleaning tablets at the dollar store (I don't have dentures) and have been using them for hard to clean containers like vases. Add the tablet to some lukewarm or warm water and it looks blue. When it clears after a couple of hours, rinse out and you'll be amazed at how clean things get.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Oct 10, 2015
    Again, if your objects have been hidden under dirt, rocks, gravel, etc. for years, no amount of rice, rocks, BBs, denture cleaner, CLR, LemiShine, lemon juice, vinegar, etc. will have any effect on the etching that the water and minerals in the soil have created. You might reduce, slightly, the cloudiness but don't count on it. Depending on how old the glass is to begin with, another factor that needs to be considered is that much, much older glass may have been created from a formula containing faults that is unlike the glass made today. Regardless of the method with which you choose to attempt to spiff up your glass items, do not soak them for inordinately long periods of time. The chemicals, such as CLR, can cause damage as well. So...only soak for a few hours at most. Older glass is at greater risk of soaking damage than glass made more recently.
  • Taffetal Taffetal on Oct 11, 2015
    CLR will bring some shine to the glass and reveal their varied colors. It will remove labels and crusted black film. I've collected similar bottles and they are not re-salable so why not use them for decor? Arrange a cluster of them on a tray and put one flower in each for a centerpiece. Or set some on a windowsill to catch the light.
  • Rose Rose on Oct 11, 2015
    Soak in water mixed with small box of baking soda.the whole tub!
  • Barbara Barbara on Oct 12, 2015
    I use the salt/lemon juice potion to clean vases and even my coffee decanter. I'm not sure if the chemical reaction might harm the vintage glass, but it's worth a try on one or two to see if it helps. Use very warm water, but not boiling as it could break the glass. We have an old crock pot that doesn't get hot enough for food anymore, so I put it in the garage with old metal objects, plug it in on a timer for 1 hour and sprinkle everything with 1 cup of ordinary table salt. Next day, drain and wash as usual. Takes paint off of vintage cabinet pulls with a little extra scrubbing.
  • Dottie Unruh Dottie Unruh on Oct 12, 2015
    I filled mine with very hot water, added 1/4 c. dishwashing detergent and a teaspoon of bleach. Let it soak for several days. Most of it came out, but some residue is still there.
    • See 2 previous
    • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Oct 13, 2015
      @Dottie Unruh If the bottles have been under ground for a long, long while the natural minerals and chemicals in the dirt will permanently discolor/etch the glass, even new. If they have been buried as long as you indicate, the best you can do is to clean them to free them from any grime and/or pollutants that might be present. In that case, fill your sink with nice, hot, soapy water (Dawn is okay), let them soak until the water is cool enough to put your hands in and scrub them inside and out with a bottle brush. Rinse thoroughly and let air dry or put them in your dishwasher, upside down, just as a cycle finishes to utilize the last of the warm, drying air. Display them as they are, with their "story" obvious in the glass.
  • Sari Graham Sari Graham on Oct 13, 2015
    I wonder if a "glass wax" product would help? I found this on Amazon, but there are many others available also.
    • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Oct 13, 2015
      @Sari Graham Over 50 years ago when I was a teenager, my mother used Glass Wax to clean all our windows and mirrors and to create "frosted" window scenes at Christmastime. It is a product that is used to clean and polish glass and mirrors, much like Glass Plus is used today. It is a pale pink, thick, opaque liquid that is smeared on the surface of the item you wish to clean. It has to dry to a white haze and is then rubbed off with a soft cloth. It requires elbow grease but produces a very shiny mirror and nicely clean windows. It will have little to no effect on the age-damaged glass of the bottles. If you're curious, for the Christmas application, she used it as a medium with stencils on our windows to depict holiday scenes or to fully cover the window and etch (or wipe off) her own designs. When the event was over, she simply wiped the windows down with a soft cloth. Decorations gone. Windows clean. A note of caution, though. For anyone who might have breathing issues, once it dries and you wipe it off, it produces a very fine, chalk-like dust. So be advised.
  • Sue Paulson Sue Paulson on Oct 13, 2015
    fill with a couple inches of rice and shake