Sunday, March 17, 2013

For the Love of a Vintage Bottle

Once upon a time a girl spotted a beautiful green vintage European wine bottle at a flea market in a small town in Germany.  She happily paid 3 euros for that little gem and brought it home thinking it was a chic little addition to her home decor.  Little did she know that would begin her "love" of the beautiful green glass!
I assume you know who that bottle collecting girl is, so I wanted to share a little glimpse of her {my} green vintage bottle collection.  Since we have been living in Germany for the last three years, I have developed quite an interest in these fabulous pieces of glass.  In fact, I could say they are one of my vintage obsessions. Each one is unique in shape and color and all have given me a little test when it comes to cleaning them up.  The best part is they all bring awesome personality into our home.

Once I had a couple of them, I started feeling like I would lay off buying them, but I am not going to lie...I kept finding ones that were all different from the others, thus the collection grew!  I must mention that the prices I find these for are almost ludicrous compared to what you would see them for at Pottery Barn or any other popular store.  Are you ready?  Most of my bottles are between 3-5 euro {about $4-7 U.S. dollars} and amazingly enough, the biggest one in the picture above was free!

Now to answer a question from one of our readers: how do I get them so clean?  This can be easy, but can also be difficult...depending on what was in the bottle prior to it being discarded.  Here are some of my best tips for cleaning them.  The main cleaning agents I use {not always together} are vinegar, dish soap, baking soda and hot water.  I always clean them in the bathtub so I have plenty of room to work without accidentally hitting it on the sink edge and risking a fatal accident to the glass.  I spread out a hand towel on the bottom of the tub to protect it and the tub from scratches.  Once the towel is wet, it stays put very well and allows me to move the bottle about freely to move around the cleaning solution inside.  This is a delicate process for glass to be moving around in the tub {think disaster if it breaks and you have to clean it up!!} so make sure you aren't in a rush for this step.

I begin with a bit of very hot tap water in the bottle, I cover the open end and carefully shake back and forth to remove any debris.  I do this a couple times and hold it to the light to see what I am faced with.  At this point I fill the bottle with some vinegar, maybe 2 cups or so {I really don't measure} and the rest of the way with hot tap water to the top.  Be warned that vinegar creates a little pressure in your bottle when you shake it with the end covered so be careful not to spray yourself.  Also, if you have some stubborn stains, you can try baking soda with the vinegar for a bubbly cleanse.  I then let the bottle soak according to how dirty it is, and sometimes an overnight soak is necessary.  You can find some long brushes in our German stores that people use for the wall heaters and I bend it to be able to scrub the inside of the bottle.  If you don't have a brush, you could use a wire hanger along with a rag to clean inside.  If the rag gets stuck, simply make a hook with the hanger to pull it out slowly.  Also, make sure not to scratch the inside of your bottle with the hanger end.  Once you have soaked and scrubbed your delicate glass baby, you can rinse with warm water until the water runs clear.  To dry, I usually find a quiet, traffic-less place in my house to prop it upside down.  This allows the water to run out freely.  Also, you can use a dry towel, roll it from the corner until its long and thin.  Insert the end into the bottle and wiggle around{holding carefully!} until the majority of the water is dried and voila!!!  You should have a clean bottle ready to display.
I hope these tips are helpful for you and your vintage bottles.  Do share any tips you might have on getting these beauties cleaned up in no time, we would love to hear them!  Happy collecting...xo~Mollykid