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Home Page > Aromatherapy Articles & Guides > Reusing Essential Oil Bottles

Cleaning and Reusing Essential Oil Bottles

How to Clean and Reuse Essential Oil BottlesMost essential oils are stored in amber or cobalt glass bottles. Once I finish a bottle of essential oil or absolute, I try to clean and reuse these glass bottle whenever possible.

Essential oils and absolutes vary in viscosity (thickness). They can leave a sticky film on the inside of your glass bottles that can be impossible to clean with just soap and hot water. Sterilizing/bioling them also doesn't always get rid of all essential oil residue.

The trick to cleaning the inside of glass essential oil bottles is to use a "solvent" that will dissolve the essential oil that remains in the bottle. High proof vodka is readily available and is a good choice to use as a solvent. Rubbing alcohol might work, but I prefer to use high proof vodka for this. To conserve on vodka when cleaning larger bottles, fill the bottle at least half way, and let it sit for a few days. Every few hours or so, shake the bottle very well (with cap on). Fill small bottles completely (no need to shake).

Depending on how "gunky" the bottles are that you are cleaning, you can reuse the vodka to clean additional bottles. Do not consume the vodka mixture when you're done. When I clean out the bottle of a more precious essential oil or absolute, I sometimes strain and reuse the vodka afterwards to make an air freshener spray.

Using an appropriately sized bottle brush can help loosen sticky essential oil residue. Be careful not to let the mixture splash out of the bottle. You don't want to get the vodka or essential oils in your eyes.

Remember that alcohol and essential oils are flammable.

You can remove old labels from your essential oil bottles as you would any other labels that you come across. Soaking the exterior of the bottles in high proof vodka helps to get rid of stubborn labels.

Be sure you also thoroughly clean and soak the caps as well.

Amber or cobalt glass bottles can also be sterilized in a manner similar to that of sterilizing baby bottles. I don't usually bother with sterilizing them since I only reuse bottles for particular diffuser and other blends that don't require especially pristine storage conditions (see below).


  • I never use recycled bottles to store more precious oils or oils that I intend to specifically use for topical or therapeutic purposes. I tend to "downgrade" the bottles that I clean and reuse to only store blends intended for my diffuser or for blends that I use for laundry or cleaning purposes. I avoid reusing bottles for precious, topical or therapeutic blends.

  • If a bottle originally contained an essential oil that is considered sensitizing to the skin (i.e. cinnamon), play it safe and don't reuse the bottle to store an essential oil that you plan to use for topical blends.

  • If a bottle is especially sticky and will cost more in vodka to clean than the bottle is worth, I'll set it aside for recycling.

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