Probably one of the questions I get the most is ‘Should I clean the item I found?’
In the next few weeks I will discuss various ways to clean soda memorabilia.
This week we will discuss bottles. Most bottle collectors like to have the bottles look brand new in their collection. But, what is the best way to clean a bottle?
Well, it depends….we will discuss embossed bottles first (no painted labels on them)
First, just good old fashioned soap and water does the best. Let the bottles warm up to room temperature, place them in a bucket or dishpan, add soap and warm water. I sometimes add 409 spray and/or Windex, but BE CAREFUL, that mixture makes the bottles very slippery. Depending on how much dirt there is, sometimes I will soak them for days, changing out the water and cleaner mixture if the water gets really dirty.
Next you will need a bottle brush (I listed some on the blog around December 2009), a good scrub brush or sponge with a scrubbing side and old fashioned elbow grease. Also-a cleanser such as Bar Keepers Friend (a mild version of Comet type cleaner) works wonders. You can buy it at most grocery store chains and hardware stores, also available on line.
If after scrubbing the inside you still have any sticky mess inside the bottle, try to find a liquid soap made to remove tree sap from hands. It is a little hard to find but I have seen it at hardware stores, also available on line. It cuts through the sticky syrup found in some soda bottles.
If a bottle has been buried for any length of time, the glass may become etched. The glass may have a rainbow effect and swirl marks etched in the glass. About the only way to remove this is to have the bottle tumbled. (Look up bottle tumbler on line to see what all that entails). It is similar to a rock tumbler. The bottle is placed in a tube, suspended and usually copper pellets are used to actually remove a thin layer of glass, to make the bottle look new and remove the etching. A tumbler starts around $1000, plus supplies. A professional tumbler will charge around $20 to $50 per bottle. And with tumbling come risks. If the bottle has a small flaw it may crack or break during tumbling. There is no guarantee it will come out in one piece.
Hope this will help you clean those bottles. Next we will discuss cleaning the ACL bottle (Applied Color Label, sometimes referred to as a painted bottle). You have to take special precautions with the ACL bottles.