How to clean: vintage/antique crystal & glass bottles

I bought this Marcel Franck perfume bottle (no atomizer) in filthy condition for $1 at an estate sale a while back. It had beautiful cuts but getting it clean looked like a lost cause. In fact, most bottles that contained anything alcohol-based that dried up in the bottle look like a lost cause. But they're not.

It's really that simple, y'all. Let's talk more about it, anyway.

You know I always recommend trying the gentlest solutions first, and I did try that here even though I knew the ultimate answer. I soaked that nasty perfume residue in soapy water overnight to no avail. I tried decanter beads with water. I tried decanter beads with soapy water. I tried a pipe cleaner.

I don't know why I tried all those things in this case, other than to prove they wouldn't do the trick.

Enter acetone. One of my favorite quick cleaning solutions. And it doesn't hurt your glass or crystal. I put a small amount of acetone into the bottle and gave it a quick two-second swirl.

acetone swirl

That took all but the most stubborn spots off but I could see they were going to need a little more friction. I tossed in some decanter beads, closed the bottle, used a cotton swab with acetone to clean the lid, gave it a swirl for ten seconds, et voila.

squeaky clean perfume bottle

Perfect clean. After that, I cleaned it with soapy water but you could skip that step if your bottle is just for display.

What's your wonder product for cleaning bottles like these? Do you have a secondhand purchase you just can't get clean? Make sure to tell us about it in a comment below. Let's learn together.

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  1. Very informative. What would you recto end to remove lingering perfume smell? Also, is their any risk that the beads would scratch a delicate bottle?

  2. Thanks. Swirl a little baking soda + water solution around to get rid of a lingering smell. :) The decanter beads are nice and smooth so this is only a concern on especially thin glass, which bottles are not often made from. If you come across a bottle made with thin glass, go ahead and let the acetone soak longer instead of using the beads, though. Mostly this solution is for possible lost causes, though, so no big risk in trying whatever works.

  3. Good to know about the decanter beads...I had no idea that would help get some of those tough spots out!

  4. Yep, they're the best magic ever. Sometimes it's nice to keep a more rustic bottle a little dirty looking (like if you were using one of your Ball jars to hold screwdrivers or something) but that is definitely not the case with this baby. It Would make a pretty diffuser, though.

  5. i tried gasoline acetone and denatured alcohol to clean perfume residue from mini perfume bottle with no results. Any suggestions?

  6. Hi, Phyllis. Do you have any silica gel packets? You might be able to get the beads to absorb and soften the residue. Or you can try a little kosher salt and water (or sugar and vinegar if the bottle openings are very tiny. Good luck, and if none of this works, post some photos and maybe we can brainstorm some other ideas!


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