Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Clean an Old Jug

{I love that the title kind of sounds dirty...}

Since Dan and I are actually old people masquerading as much younger people, we usually spend a large chunk of our weekends at garage sales, estate sales, or antique fairs. We usually don't end up with anything and when we do, nine times our of ten, it's Dan that finds a gem he can't live without.

However, this past weekend at an estate sale, I found this beauty.

Isn't it gorgeous? Or more importantly, can't you imagine it being gorgeous?

I've seen enough DIY and craft shows to know that there are a million different things you can do with a giant bottle if you want (It's hard to tell from the pictures, but I'd estimate that it's a five gallon bottle). I've hunted them online, but the things cost usually $35+ and add on shipping for these giant things and it's quickly an arm and a leg.

So, when I found this baby under a table on a back porch at an estate sale for only $4, I wasn't leaving without it. (Dan pulled the price tag off before I could get a pic of it, but trust me, $4!)

The biggest problem I faced was it was hard to tell how much clean-up would need to be done under the thick coating of dust. There was a layer of gravel in the bottom so the thing might be scratched to hell on the inside.

First, I just tried dish soap, a scrub brush, and the spray nozzle on my hose.

This got 90% of the dirt off, including almost all of the exterior dirt. Some mud speckles remained if you really looked close (on the scale of a pin prick), but they scratch off with a fingernail.

The remaining 10% of the grim remained at the bottom of the jug. Whether it be rust or engrained dirt, I really can't tell, but it wasn't going anywhere easily. So, I got on google and Pinterest and came up with a variety of solutions.

Solution #1: Denture Cleaner

Since I already had this sitting around (see? I am secretly old. No, it's actually for cleaning my retainer), I dropped a couple of tablets in a few inches of water and let it work it's magic.

I checked on it 15 minutes later (the allotted amount of time given on the tablet instructions) and no change. I swirled it a couple of times and checked back later and still no change. Verdict: failed on whatever this dirt is.

Solution #2: The Hot Soak

Since it's already a million degrees out, this one was pretty easy. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of dish soap into the bottom of the jug. Then, add some really hot water. Swirl it around, set it in the sun, and hope the heat lodges the dirt free. The theory is kind of like soaking dirty dishes in a sink full of hot water. While this method may have helped a little bit, there was still plenty of it stuck on. Verdict: failed.

Solution #3: Coarse Salt

Another solution I found for smaller bottles said to pour in about an inch's worth of coarse salt, some dish soap, a teeny bit of warm water, and shake the hell out of the bottle. With a jug this large, it would almost take an entire container of salt to create the layer required. I saved this one as a last resort, especially since the instructions said it make take a couple of attempts (that's A LOT of salt for a $4 jug).

If you learn nothing from me today, learn this: DO THIS METHOD FIRST! Oh my god! It's like magic. I just used whatever salt was remaining in our Morton's Salt kitchen container (somewhere between one and two cups), a couple spoonfuls of dish soap, and around one cup of boiling water. Don't use so much water that the salt all dissolves, but enough that mixture behaves like a liquid.

"These aren't the dirty dishes you're looking for"
After a couple of swirls, the blue mixture was already changing color with all of the dirt it had cleaned. It was amazing. I felt like a serious fool for waiting so long to try it. And it only took one attempt to get ALL the dirt out, so I'm only out one container of salt! Verdict: winner winner, chicken dinner.

Here's the final product.

To finish it off, I used a funnel to pour in some Windex, shook it around a few times, and used the same funnel to pour the extra back into the Windex bottle. With some additional scrubbing on the outside with Windex, I'm really happy with the results. The jug is still a little cloudy from all the micro-scratching on the glass from being outside, but there's not much I can do about that. It just makes it look more vintage, right?

So, long short short, use Solution #3. It's awesome.

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