Cleaning your plastics

A page of various techniques and how I think they fare

Bleach Bottles

Bottle Caps

Laundry Detergent

Oil Bottles

Most car fluid bottles are HDPE. It's a good plastic to hold chemicals! However, oils can be hard to clean out, so here's some tips and tricks I've seen, as well as one's I've tried myself

Water and Soap

Along with a Laundry Detergent bottle, my first two oil bottles were a fail. I tried just hot water and Dawn Dish Soap. I cut the bottles up along their corners so i had some "flat" pieces, than I set to work scrubbing them in hot soapy water. This took a lot of effort, and after about 30 minutes it was still slightly slimey ): I tried to just let it soak in fresh Hot/Soapy water overnight, but by morning all I had was cold slimy plastics ): ): I was able to get them clean by getting hot/soapy water two more times and scrubbing, but this is a method I strongly do not reccommend to other people. After this miserable experience, I tried some Googling to see what other way I could try


Water, Soap, and Vinegar

" " " In order to clean oils out of your bottles, rinse with soapy water (Dawn works great) a few times, then fill 5% with Distilled White Vinegar, and the rest with cold water (Hot water will weaken the plastic), and let sit for a few hours. You may need to repeat once more, but your bottle should be clean of all oils! " " "

Water and soap and . .. vinegar? Something I didn't expect, but it's one I tried! I tried it with two bottles at once: An unknown fuel treatment bottle, and a Gulf Motor Oil bottle.

A clear HDPE bottle. It's tall and thin, with a spout  that's tall and much thinner. It has a green cap.

A fuel additive, makes your engine cleaner* and run better*! Guarenteed*!

A blue HDPE bottle. It's a standard 1 quart motor oil shape, and it has a label for Gulf 5w30 oil.

Gulf Synthetic Blend Motor Oil, 5W-30 (PREMIUM*!)

At the time, the only vinegar I had in the house was Apple Cider Vinegar. I had two opened bottles of it tho! Never the less I tried it anyways; I can always post results latter with regular White Distilled if desired

Two bottles of Apple Cidar Vinegar. Both are roughtly 1/2 full. One is slightly larger than the other.

Two partial bottles of Apple Cider Vinegar. .. what has my life come to? They're not even the same size bottles, much less the same brand . ..

So washed the insides out with Dawn Dish Soap and some hot water (sites say to use cold water cause hot weakens the plastic. However these same sites are talking about putting drinking water into those bottles; we plan on remelting them down into something else, so "weaker plastic bottles" isn't something I'm worried about). After a throurgh rinse, I poured in some vinegar and filled the rest with hot water, then let it sit overnight. Poured it out the next day, rinsed the inside out with just hot water, and cut the bottles open. the results? The plastic felt nice and clean! Unlike the {SOAP AND WATER} attempt, the bottle wasn't greasy feeling; it felt just like how clean HDPE should feel :) Very happy with the results, and I will keep doing it this way until i find a faster way that cleans just as well.

CONCLUSION: Soap/Water/Vinegar PASS!

Water, Soap, and into the Laundry

Two bottles, one orange and one red, are cut in a way to form one contuinious strip. Both strands are laying in a kitchen sink

Two new oily test subjects :)

That's right! I took two new bottles, water'ed and soap'ed them twice (Hot water, Dawn dish soap), then spiral-cut them and put them in a mesh bag with a bunch of bottle caps. The results?

Firstly, as you may notice, I left the labels on! As of this testing, I'm still trying to find an effective method to remove labels (Once I find a way I'll add a link HERE). Secondly, I cut them into long strips. This makes it easier to trim down later into shorter strips to help with melting. I didn't want to leave the bottles whole, as that'd leave a small opening for the cleaning stuff to deal with.

The cut bottles laying on a desk, showing off what's left of their labels

Clean (and label-sticky) oil bottles (:

And they're clean! Rubbing my hands up and down the strands, they feel nice and smooth and not slimey . .. as long as you avoid the labels. this method didn't clean the labels, and I ended up having to trim the two strands around it. The red one kinda went away? I could remove it all if I felt like spending lots of time fighting with it. The orange one tho still has all it's glue, and BOY is it sticky! It feels fresh like I just applied it. So that part was a failure. Not washing it in the laundry tho. That worked wonderfully. Click HERE for how I clean plastics in the washer

CONCLUSION: Soap/Water/Laundry (Oil part) PASS!

CONCLUSION: Soap/Water/Laundry (Label part) FAIL!

Plastics in the Laundry Washer