There comes a time in any DIYers life where you gotta sterilize a few glass bottles. Making your own skincare is a great way to reduce single-use packaging and customize your products. Alternatively, refillable skincare is getting more accessible each day- but you'll need to ensure all containers are safely sanitized before refilling!
Our simple 5-step guide to sanitizing your glass bottles will have you refilling with more confidence and less contamination!
Our guide for how to clean the glass droppers (including the pesky pipettes!) can be found at the bottom of this blog post.
*Disclaimer* When re-using old containers, there’s also an increased chance that you’ll contaminate your product! Always sanitize glass bottles before refilling to prevent contamination. We've given you a succinct guideline below- but it's up to you to work smart, as you'll be handling hot and fragile glass. If you're unsure, use brand-new sanitized containers.
What You'll Need:
- 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (its best in a spray bottle)
- Paper Towel
- Cotton buds
- Empty glass dropper bottles
Step 1: Clean & Soak
Ensure your bottle is empty. Products containing oils (like oil-based serums) can't go down the drain and should be put into your trash.
Once the bottle is empty, give it a quick rinse to flush out any residual product. To help release any labels and ensure the container is clean, soak overnight in soapy water.
Step 2: Rinse, Repeat
Remove your labels. Depending on how long you soaked your bottles, this may take some elbow grease! Spritz with 70% Isopropyl Alcohol to remove any stickiness.
Once de-labelled, rinse twice with warm water to get the remaining soap out of the bottles.
Step 3: Boil for Ten Minutes
Being careful not to burn yourself (glass containers will get very hot) use tongs to place your glass bottles in boiling water. Boil for ten minutes.
After ten minutes, use tongs to remove your bottles. They will be extremely hot so simply set them on a surface to allow them to cool down before handling.
*Disclaimer* Do not boil glass droppers! Parts with plastic components will start to melt and soften in boiling water. See below for our tips on cleaning glass droppers.
Step 4: Rinse in 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
Once your glass bottles have cooled completely, rinse in 70% isopropyl alcohol.
Submerge the glass bottles completely to sanitize.
If you’re confident you can clean the whole inside surface of the bottle, pour just enough isopropyl alcohol into each bottle to clean. Simply swish and empty!
Step 5: Air Dry
Lay fresh paper towel down on a clean surface. Position each bottle upside down on the paper towel to let it drip dry.
You’ll need to wait until the bottles have air dried completely before refilling.
It's important to wait for all alcohol and and any residual water to completely evaporate before you refill or reuse. The best bet is to not be in a hurry and leave them to dry overnight, or for 24 hrs.
Tips for cleaning Glass Droppers
Since you can’t boil the plastic parts of glass droppers, it is harder to ensure proper sanitization. In general, we don’t recommend re-using droppers unless your using them for something else (other than cosmetics). Keep in mind, contaminated products are far worse for your health and pose a higher immediate risk to you- so don’t risk re-use if you’re unsure!
But, depending on the style of dropper, you may be able to remove the glass pipette from the plastic dropper head. Simply pull and wiggle the pipette a bit to get it free from the cap.
As with the guide above: put the glass pipettes and plastic heads in with your bottles soak overnight.
When they're done soaking, you can use a cotton bud and soapy water to clean the inside of the pipette and dropper.
Repeat this step with water twice to rinse.
We do not recommend boiling the small glass pipettes as they may break.
Instead, after rinsing off all soapy water, submerge the plastic heads and glass pipettes in 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. Remove and allow to air dry completely.
Due to the design of the dropper, it can be hard to tell whether or not it has completely air dried- putting you at risk of contaminating your product. When in doubt, use a new dropper.
If you're confident everything is dry, simply pop the pipette back into the plastic dropper and refill!
If you're coming to any of our workshops, feel free to Bring Your Own Container to help us reduce our reliance on packaging.
Hey Shaindy! I can’t comment as to the effect of any residue. When producing skincare for sale, your customers safety is top priority so you may want to consult a lab or chemist! In my experience, if you leave the bottles upside down long enough the alcohol should fully evaporate. You can also invest in a table top machine that will sterilize your bottles for you. Good luck and let us know your stability results doing it yourself!
Thanks Matilda for your comment! They should come out quite easily- I find wiggling them first from side to side helps get them free. I should say- not ALL dropper bottles will be like this, I have found some are designed not to separate. It just depends on the supplier! In my experience, the Ordinary droppers should come apart. Use your best judgement and, of course, be careful not to hurt yourself when working with all this fragile glass.
Thanks for such an informative post! I’m currently cleaning all my old bottles, and I’m feeling insecure about how hard I can pull on the glass pipettes. They are from the ordinary, and I’m pretty sure that they can be pulled out, but how much force did you have to use?
Hey there, thank you for the thorough info on cleaning and reusing glass bottles.
Ive been sanitizing mine with alcohol as well as the last step, or new straight out of the box, but I’m wondering if there is any downside of not rinsing the isopropyl alcohol off. Does it leave any residue behind?
Im putting facial oils in my bottles and want them sterilized. Just don’t want any unwanted reside. Im having a hard time finding a straightforward answer on the internet, but I saw here that you do it so I figured id ask.
Thanks so much,