I have a rather concrete issue for those of you well versed in the chemical sciences:

The situation

I know for a fact that most of the bottles I am using have been contaminated on the inside with vegetable oil during label removal. In retrospect, my situation could have been easily prevented, but in the mean time I do have hundreds of sub-optimal bottles that I badly want to use. I want to dissolve and remove the fat to make the bottles usable again.

The questions

  1. Is fat dissolution possible while retaining the integrity of the glassware?
  2. Which detergents or chemicals should i use, and what is their actual effect?

3 Answers 3


What not use a commercial brewing steriliser/cleaner like VWP? Soak in a solution made with very hot water overnight. One might find that all that is needed thereafter is a rinse with fresh water and drain dry. If necessary a scrub with a bottle brush should complete the job. Specifically, 1) It should be easy to get rid of the fat/oil without compromising the glassware 2) A VPW is a good cleaning/degreasing agent that loosens and solvates fats and oils and it also is a source of chlorine that will sterilise the bottle at the same time.

However it may not be that the oily residue is causing the lack of head retention. That can be due to a myriad of reasons but hopefully using some VWP will indicate if the bottle contaminants are the cause.


I would start with a mild dish washing soap with warm water, it usually gets rid of grease and oils. If you have a bottle brush, use it, if not shake the bottles well. Then rince the bottles well. If the glass bottles fit in your dishwasher, you can also give them a wash there first (glass only, not PET).

If this doesn't work, then I would look for a stronger product, but this should be enough.

  • Soap essentially takes care of most of the fat, i agree, but i want to get rid of all of it, even the molecules attaching itself to microscopic cracks in the glass. Also, unless you have one dedicated to bottles, using the dishwasher is a generally bad idea, as water is recirculated in the machine (hence containing food residues etc.).
    – FredrikH-R
    Jul 27, 2017 at 9:52
  • My bottles come quite clean out of the dishwasher, but I do not wash dishes at the same time. I only need to rince/sanitize them afterwards. It does a better job than doing it by hand IMO.
    – Philippe
    Jul 27, 2017 at 11:54

I would suggest using a citric acid based cleaner to attempt to dissolve the fat. Leave it for a day or two and use a bottle brush to scrub the rest away

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