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How to Clean Medicine Dropper Bottles in 5 Easy Steps

Medicine dropper bottles are a handy and necessary thing to have for the home herbalist. Thankfully, they’re reusable. Use this 5 step process to clean medicine dropper bottles quickly and easily.

Dropper bottles easily store our tinctures and other creations and make dosage easy as a little squeeze. The dark glass protects our concoctions from the damaging sunlight and means that with proper care we can reuse them for years to come.

Amber and blue glass medicine dropper bottles sitting on a table with cotton swabs for cleaning.

Reusing them, however; means getting them clean. Obviously washing bottles and jars isn’t exactly rocket science but getting inside the lids and pipettes takes a little finesse.

Step 1: Give Everything a Rinse

Pour some hot water in the bottle, put the lid with pipette intact back on and give everything a good shake.

Drain the water out completely. Rinse more than once if there are bits of dried herbs or other items still clinging to the bottle.

Step 2: Take Everything Apart

Open the bottle up and remove the pipette from the lid. Usually the pipette will twist out or simply pull right out with a gentle tug.

Clean medicine dropper bottles on table.

Step 3: A Vinegar Soak

Put all the pieces into a sink or small tub and cover with vinegar. Let everything soak at least 10 minutes, longer is okay.

I’ve learned that the acid from the vinegar helps loosen up discolorations and other bits from inside the jar and pipette quite easily. 

After soaking, rinse everything out with hot water.

Step 4: A Soapy Bath

Put all the pieces into a sink and fill with hot soapy water.  Let everything soak at least 10 minutes, longer is absolutely okay.

Clean the bottles, pipettes, and lids now. It’s easiest to get inside the pipettes and lids with a cotton swab of some kind.  Regular swabs, the kind most of us use for our ears, will work for smaller bottles. For the longer pipettes, the wood shaft 6″ long cotton tipped applicators are better suited.

Use these 5 steps to clean medicine dropper bottles for re-use and take advantage of second-hand bottles found at thrift shops and yard sales.

They’re relatively inexpensive and make this process easier (and have plenty of other uses, so are worth having around). The swabs work well for the bottom of the bottles as well. Once it’s clean, give everything a good rinse to remove any soap or other residue. 

If the jar had a label on it, it should come off relatively easily after all the soaking.  Use a razor blade to scrape off any remaining adhesive if necessary.

Step 5: Dry Well

Let everything sit in a dish drainer or on a towel until completely dry before placing the pipette back in the lid and putting the lid on the dropper medicine bottle to store until ready to use.

It’s really that simple and means that not only can we reuse our jars for years to come, we can feel confident in picking up jars second-hand should we come across them at yard sales and thrift shops.

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Tuesday 15th of February 2022

The Q-tip was too big to insert into the pipette. Next, I tried a stiff brush to clean metal straws. At first it was working great, but on the next try, it broke the tip off. I'll need to be more gentle. Ty.


Wednesday 18th of March 2020

Can the instructions be for plastic bottles also? Thanks

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 19th of March 2020

I think it could work but I haven't tried.


Thursday 4th of April 2019

I'm reusing some used CBD dropper bottles. I saw your list of "5" on how to clean them. So, my 1st question is, that will wash out all the oil, right? 2nd, can I sterilize, by boiling, also, without damaging the rubber bulb? 3rd, can I used Vodka in my "5", instead of vinegar?

Kathie Lapcevic

Friday 5th of April 2019

I would use a really good dish soap. to get rid of oily residue. Something that is very good at removing oil/grease and hot water. I can't say for certain about the rubber bulb, it's going to vary widely based on type, etc. I wouldn't boil it so much as just dip in boiling water. I can't see why you couldn't use vodka it's a great disinfectant.


Sunday 24th of March 2019

I'm intending on sterilizing some glass dropper bottles and mason jars for medical purposes, I'm thinking using distilled/de-mineralized water in the boiling process would help alot, as opposed to regular tap water which is full of minerals that can contaminate the medium.


Kathie Lapcevic

Monday 25th of March 2019

I'm sure you could do that without a problem, especially if you have hard tap water the distilled will prevent mineral residue.


Wednesday 13th of February 2019

I just purchased several essential oils and want to make blends. I purchased roller bottles, dropper bottles and small jars for other mixtures. How do I sterilize the bottles, droppers, etc. and how long does the sterilization last, if I don't use the bottle or jar immediately. Thank you.

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 14th of February 2019

To sterilize bottles, I generally use boiling water. Boil in a pot for 10 minutes. I would only sterilize right before you're ready to fill. It's not going to last very long at all.