How can I reuse or recycle shampoo bottles?

Shampoo bottlesShampoo bottles upset me. Not on the scale of, say, world poverty or abuse of political power but a minor gah most times I wash my hair.

I already buy the biggest bottles I can but still, lots of wasted plastic. The bottles seem so rigid and potentially useful but I have no idea what those uses might be, given they’re typically narrow necked and their previous contents preclude using the bottle to hold anything that might be negatively affected by smelling like a chemical approximation of various fruits.

Any suggestions?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: Buy the biggest bottle you can since shampoo/conditioner doesn’t go off. If your bulk bottle is too big to use on a daily basis, use it to refill another bottle again and again. You can also buy solid shampoo bars or make your own.
  • Reuse: Filled with water, they can act do the job of bricks in toilet cisterns. The often pretty coloured plastic can also be used in crafts.
  • Recycle: Check the bottom of the bottle to see what type of plastic it is – it’s usually marked in a triangle – to see if you can recycle it with your other plastics.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

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20 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle shampoo bottles?”

  1. bev says:

    If you don’t already have something like a brick in there, you could fill them with water and put them in your toilet cistern. I realise that’s only a one (or two) off thing though – but at least it’s a start!

  2. matchbookhymnal says:

    Sometimes you get down to either start making your own (Better Basics for the Home has good recipes) or just recycling the bottles. There may be a few applications for these, but not as many projects as you are going to generate bottles.

    You can cut off the top and screw them onto your bike as bottle holders, though. Or cut them in half lengthwise for DIY-looking bike fenders.

  3. Amanda Kerik says:

    Cut off the bottom and punch holes all over. Push into soil and fill with water.

  4. Anteater says:

    I’ve not tried it, but apparently you can do without shampoo. You do something with baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead. Google “go no poo” for more information.

  5. Shabnam says:

    I posted a blurb on my blog about Rebecca Crawford (Spacefruit)who collected shampoo bottles washed up on her beach and made great necklaces out of them. The photo of one of her creations is posted. It’s really a great idea.

  6. Jen says:

    Shampoo bottles can make absolutely lovely bracelets/necklaces. Just Cut circles out of them, put a hole in the middle and thread them onto string! Obviously looks better with coloured shampoo bottles but clear ones can still be used.

  7. renee says:

    make a string and plastic curtain out of cut out bits and pieces.

    if you are into scrap-booking you can use them to make the diecut shapes.

    I use them as part of pendants, action figure accesories (makes great wings and capes)

  8. Petya says:

    Remove the cover and the labels, cut the screw top, put something heavy inside and use it as a vase. Same can be used for a desktop pencil/pen organizer (use other cut shampoo bottles to divide into sections).

  9. glitterpixie says:

    i solved this problem for myself by buying solid shampoo. i’m totally against liquid washing detergent and always buy powder (as basically, liquid detergent is just the poweder mixed with water. so we’re paying for water to be trasported etc! madness) sam goes for shampoo. buy solid shampoo bars, most have no packaging whatsoever, and any that do, it will be recycled and recyclable again. it’s soo silly to pay for water when you can just buy the concentrated item, and NO packaging either! solved!


    or make your own:

  10. teresa says:

    Buy in bulk! Refill the bottle with a new shampoo.

    Or, like glitterpixie said, use Lush’s bar soap! it totally kicks ass, especially if you travel.

    Also, it’s true. You don’t really need to shampoo that often.

  11. anna says:

    Big round bottles can be made pots for plants.
    Small hotel size bottles are best kept, at least the pretty ones. Then just refill from the bigger ones.

  12. Gulia says:

    Remove labels. Keep in them homemade liquid detergent.

  13. Shorty says:

    Maybe make your own, and use those bottles? I saw on that show with those people with like 18 kids or something that they make their own detergent, and about a bar of Dial soap made around a bucket of detergent. Too lazy to look for it though. ;D

  14. Anonymous says:

    The lids can be used for doll’s hats, the bottles to make doll’s couches or luggage.

  15. Jess Jones says:

    I love solid shampoo, just wanted to hint all you people to a new store in the UK,
    I was recommended their by some friends about a month ago & haven’t turned back since!
    Because they are natural & also green but the best bit is that they do not hurt your pennies as much lol…

  16. Andrew says:

    Another idea: Reject packaging and demmand BULK. Shampoo bottles last forever. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just refill them from bulk despensers at stores? We use gas cans over and over to transport and store fuel. Let’s apply this concept everything from shampoo to sunscreen to dish soap to motor oil. BULK EVERYTHING. Stop paying for marketing and empty bottles. Demand bulk by sending you empty bottles back to the distributer with polite note indicating you prefer to buy bulk and you believe they should be responsible for the disposal of the empty bottles they needlessly sell. Rapid change is possible when everyone in your town, city and country sends one bottle back to the producer instead of the landfill. They’ll get the message quickly. We need to remind the packaging industry that REDUCE and REUSE come before recycle.

    • HuntingWabbits says:

      Amen! Imagine if we could just go to the store and trade in our bottles for full ones at a cheaper price? Now that would be cool!

  17. Sandy says:

    These would work good in craft projects. Some shampoo bottles are perfect shapes for doll bodies.
    Also when my kids were small I would rinse them out very good so no soap remained and fill them with water. Not only would they use them in the bathtub to squirt each other but they also used them as water guns outdoors.

  18. I was really sad to hear from my local coop that while I can buy in bulk from them, the manufacter does not actually take their bottles back.

    Which to me seems like a whole lot of effort on my part without much gain. I like the solid shampoo idea.


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