How to reuse glass water bottles: a step-by-step guide

The latest trend – with environmental awareness and responsibility becoming more prominent in everyday life – seems to be to rush out and a buy an environmentally friendly reusable water bottle.

Most people do this in the name of “going green” and that is commendable, but does that mean you have to do the same if you want to adopt a greener lifestyle? 

While you undoubtedly want to do your bit for the environment, it does not necessarily mean that you have to spend a lot of money on one of the latest advertised reusable water bottles.

You probably already have glass bottles in your home that you either throw out or plan to recycle.

Why not use one of these bottles as your new water bottle! That would be even more environmentally friendly than buying a new reusable water bottle.

How to reuse glass water bottles: a step-by-step guide:

  • Remove the label from the bottle,
  • Clean the bottle,
  • Disinfect the bottle,
  • Fill the glass bottle with water and enjoy.

Bottled Water Sources

Have you ever had an unexpected visitor ask for a glass of cold water and you just do not have any readily available? Tepid tap water just is not the same when a refreshing glass of cold water is wanted.

Most people remedy this particular risk by ensuring that they always have a few plastic bottles of water stored in the fridge.

But, why spend money buying bottled water to keep in the fridge when you can reuse glass bottles in the home to bottle and cool your own water? It is convenient and cost-effective.

Every home has a spare glass bottle (or many, to be fair). These bottles are usually milk bottles, wine or spirits bottles, juice bottles, or similar.

empty wine bottles on the grass

Some empty wine, milk or liqueur bottle to reuse at home

Just because the bottle previously contained wine or milk, it does not mean that it will not make for the perfect water bottle. It just needs to be prepared correctly. 

Before you throw away another glass bottle, think about repurposing it as a water bottle.

4 Quick Steps to Turn Your Glass Bottle into a Water Bottle

Glass water bottles are considered the most eco-friendly due to the way they are made. When compared to other bottles, such as plastic and metal bottles, the manufacturing process of glass produces less greenhouse gases.

Glass bottles are also 100% recyclable, which makes them a wiser choice over plastic bottles readily available on store shelves. All you have to do is commit yourself to reusing glass bottles in your home, and you will be doing your bit for the environment.

Let’s take a quick look at how you can turn just about any glass bottle into a reusable water bottle.

Step 1: Remove the label from the bottle.

If you want your glass water bottle to look good, you need to remove the labels or stickers on it before you start reusing it. Sometimes the labels are extra sticky and hard to get off.

If you have ever ripped a label off the bottle and been left with the pesky residue to deal with, you might assume that it is impossible to remove a label and all its stickiness completely.

However, it is not impossible – there is a trick to removing both the label and the sticky residue beneath it. There are 4 reliable ways to remove a sticker or label from a glass jar. These include:

  • Remove the label with dishwashing liquid and hot water. Fill a sink with very hot water and a double dose of liquid dishwashing soap. Remove the lid from the bottle, and place it in the water. Allow the bottle to soak for around 30 minutes. The soap will help to dissolve the glue and you should be able to either gently pull the label off or scrape it off.
  • Use white vinegar and hot water to remove the label. Fill the sink with very hot water and several cups of white vinegar (the more vinegar, the better). Remove the cap and leave the bottle to soak for around 30 minutes. The longer you leave the bottle soaking, the more the label will soften and the glue will dissolve. You should be able to pull the label off or scrap it off thereafter. Rinse the bottle clean once the entire label is removed.
  • Remove the sticker with a paste of oil and baking soda. First, soak the bottle in warm water and pull off as much of the sticker as you can. Then, pat the bottle dry with a dish towel or paper towel. You will need to mix oil and baking soda, in equal quantities to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the tacky areas vigorously. Allow the oily mixture to soak into the sticker for around 30 minutes. Use steel wool or a scrubbing brush to scour the bottle surface clean. Once the sticker has been removed, simply wash the jar with liquid dishwashing soap and rinse it clean.
  • Rub the label off with nail polish remover. First, you need to try to remove as much of the sticker as possible by pulling it off. Then, wet a dish scouring sponge with the nail polish remover and scrub the sticky surface in circular motions. Apply as much pressure and scrub as vigorously as you can. You may need to repeat this a few times before the sticker comes completely off. Finally, wash the bottle with warm soapy water and rinse it clean.

If there is anything printed on the bottle – usually the production and best before dates are printed in black on the bottle – you can remove this quite easily with steel wool and warm water. A gentle rub is all it should take.

Step 2: Clean the bottle.

The glass bottle will need to be cleaned before you can store water in it. The cap will usually have residue in it, so focus on washing that out with warm soapy water first.

Then it is time to tackle cleaning the inside of the bottle, which might have milk, wine, or other residues. The good news is that glass bottles are quite easy to clean.

Below are a few options for cleaning your glass bottle:

  • Use vinegar and water to clean the bottle. It is quite easy to wash a glass bottle out with a vinegar and hot water solution. The vinegar is able to remove stains, tastes, and smells. After the vinegar wash, wash the bottle with liquid dishwashing soap and warm water to eliminate any vinegar taste or smell. Rinse the bottle out with hot water and allow it to air dry. Alternatively pat it dry with a paper towel or clean dish towel. The bottle is then ready to use.
  • Clean the glass bottle in the dishwasher. Luckily, glass bottles are usually dishwasher safe. Reusable glass bottles are typically thicker than regular single use bottles. Some single use glass bottles may crack when exposed to the dishwasher heat, but this very rarely happens. This means you can simply pop the bottle upside down into the dishwasher and set it to a high heat cycle along with the rest of your dishes. Allow the bottle to air dry, or pat it dry with a clean towel or paper towel before using it.
  • Clean the bottle out with warm soapy water. In most instances, washing a glass bottle with regular liquid dishwashing soap and warm water will suffice. You might want to use a bottle brush to ensure that the inside of the bottle is cleaned properly. Fill a sink with warm soapy water and give the bottle a good scrub inside and out. Allow some of the soapy water to fill the bottle, put the cap on and shake it vigorously for a few minutes. You can then rinse the bottle out with hot water and it will be ready to use.

Cleaning the glass bottle is just to ensure that your stored water is clean and fresh when you are ready to drink it. You don’t want your drinking water to taste like wine or milk – so cleaning should be a top priority.

Also, remember to clean your glass water bottle regularly while using it. This eliminates germs and bacteria.

Step 3: Disinfect the bottle.

If you want to make sure that the glass bottle is hygienically clean, you will need to sterilize it. There are several ways that you can disinfect a bottle or sterilize it. Below are a few simple options that you can try:

  • Boiling glass bottles to disinfect them. Place the glass bottles in a big pot of boiling water and let it simmer for around 10 minutes. Let the water cool with the bottles still in the pot. Once the water is cool, remove the bottles and turn them upside in the dish drying rack to dry. Once the bottles are dry, they are ready to use.
  • Heat the bottles in the oven to sterilize them. Place the glass bottles on the rack in the oven. Leave a space between each bottle. You will need to set the oven temperature to 120 degrees Celsius. Allow the bottles to heat for about 10 minutes. Then, turn the oven off and allow the bottles to cool before removing and using them. The heat from the oven will kill any germs and bacteria potentially present and make the bottle hygienically safe to use.
  • Disinfect the bottles by soaking them in bleach and hot water. Mix a solution of hot water and bleach at a ratio of 2 table spoons of bleach per gallon of water. Allow the bottles to soak for around 10 minutes before removing them and rinsing them out. Bleach is able to kill most bacteria and germs, but is also good for removing stains, flavors, and odors.
  • Wash the bottle in vinegar and hot water to disinfect it. Dilute a quarter cup of vinegar in 3 cups of warm water and pour the mixture into the glass bottle. Allow the solution to stand in the bottle for 10 minutes so that it can get to work. Turn the bottle upside to soak the other side of it for another 10 minutes. Then simply pour the liquid out and rinse the bottle clean with hot water before using it.
  • Disinfect the glass bottle with lemon, salt and hot water. Mix 2 tablespoons of coarse salt and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, into 3 cups of hot water. Pour the mixture into the glass bottle, put the lid on and shake the bottle vigorously for a few minutes. Allow the mixture to soak for around 30 minutes. Pour the liquid out, rinse the bottle with hot water and it is ready to use. Lemon acts as a natural bleach or disinfectant.

Step 4: Fill the bottle with water and enjoy.

The final step is the easiest of them all. The last thing left to do is to fill the bottle with water and enjoy. You can store your glass bottle of water in the fridge or use it on the go.

Top Reasons to Turn Your Old Glass Bottles into Water Bottles

There are many reasons why people reuse their bottles. For most, it is a case of being environmentally conscious. With the plastic problem the world is facing, buying single use plastics simply isn’t viable or responsible anymore.

More and more people are learning to say “no” to single use plastics and unfortunately, water bottles are made from these very plastics. 

Besides being the environmentally friendly alternative, there are a few other reasons why you should turn your old glass bottles into water bottles. See some of these reasons below:

  • Save money by reusing glass bottles.Reusing glass bottles already in your home means that you will not have to pay anything extra for your water bottles. Every time you choose to buy plastic bottled water, you are wasting money.
  • Glass bottles are the healthy and safe reusable water bottle option. Glass bottles are the safest option when it comes to reusable water bottles as they are BPA-free. Unlike some plastic water bottles, glass does not leach chemicals and therefore will not contaminate your drinking water, even if exposed to the sun.
  • Glass bottles are easy to clean.Glass bottles are quite easy to clean with warm soapy water or a vinegar and water solution

    . You can even put glass bottles in the dishwasher for an intense clean. Unlike plastic bottles, glass will not shrink or lose its shape when washed in the dishwasher. Glass also does not absorb stains and smells like some plastic bottles do.

  • Glass bottles have an incredibly long life span. Glass bottles have a very long lifespan and because they are so durable, they do not show wear and tear easily. Plastic bottles generally lose shape and get scuffed quite quickly and are then thrown away, whereas glass bottles are much hardier and can be recycled if they get chipped, scratched or scuffed.
  • Glass bottles are classy, aesthetically pleasing and versatile. Even if you have repurposed an old wine bottle, it will add a touch of class to a dinner table setting as a water bottle. You can also use old wine bottles as salad dressing and sauce bottles. Reusable glass bottles can be used as water bottles at home, in restaurants and even in the office.

One of the main reasons why juices, wines and spirits are sold in glass bottles is that glass ensures purity of flavor. As a non-permeable material, it is guaranteed that a glass bottle won’t retain odor, taste, or color.

A massive 80% of all glass bottles produced are also recycled annually. For many, reusable glass bottles are the obvious natural choice for an environmentally friendly water bottle.

Disadvantages of reusing glass water bottles

Of course, there is always a bit of bad that comes with the good, but rest assured there are very few disadvantages to reusing glass bottles. While glass water bottles are environmentally friendly, there are two disadvantages to expect when using them:

  • Glass bottles can break fairly easily. If you drop your glass water bottle, it will probably break, chip, or become scratched and scuffed. Plastic and metal reusable water bottles do not break as easily.
  • Heavier then other options. Glass bottles, unlike plastic, silicone and stainless steel bottles, are quite heavy to carry around. If you are always on the go or need a water bottle for sport practice, a glass water bottle might not be the ideal choice for you.


Reusing your old glass bottles as water bottles is as easy as removing the label, cleaning the bottle, disinfecting or sterilizing it and filling it with fresh water for enjoyment – 4 easy steps that won’t cost you a thing.

Save yourself the cost a new reusable water bottle and do your bit for the environment at the same time by reusing the glass bottles already in your home. Make the environmentally friendly choice.


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