Caring for your Reusable Bottles

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Bottles & Bottling

Whether you’re brewing at home or here with us at Terminal City Brewing, making sure your bottles are clean will help ensure the longest shelf life possible for your beer, wine or cider as well as giving you the easiest bottling experience and the best tasting product. Bottles are a one-time expense – as long as you care for them they can last for many, many years. We have customers bottling with us who have been reusing the same bottles for well over 20 years, imagine the environmental savings!

Choosing Bottles

All of the bottles we sell here at Terminal City Brewing are suitable for reuse. We carry a range of 375mL and 750mL Wine Bottles and an ever-changing assortment of Beer and Cider Bottles. What makes a good reusable bottle?

  • Durable – any glass bottle with screw threads is inherently weaker than a bottle designed for a crown cap or cork. Most customers have acceptable results installing corks in used screw-top wine bottles or crown caps on screw top beer bottles, but there is always a chance of breakage. Losing an entire bottle due to a cracked bottle during corking or capping doesn’t make anyone happy.
  • Resealable – we often have customers asking about using empty liquor bottles. Those bottles typically were designed to use a very soft metal cap that cannot be replaced. Other containers like juice bottles, etc typically are not designed to be reclosed and often use closures which we don’t stock. Cans of course cannot be resealed.
  • Long neck – ever wonder why beer, wine and cider bottles typically have long narrow necks? It’s all about oxidation! The narrow neck reduces the volume of air sitting on top of your beer after bottling. Incidentally this is one of the reasons we don’t recommend growlers for long term storage of beer – the wide neck leaves a considerable amount of oxygen in the bottle. In addition growler caps tend to have mediocre seals which will allow your beer to go flat over time.

All of the bottles we sell here at Terminal City Brewing are suitable for reuse. We supply standard corks for wine bottles, crown caps for glass bottles and PET caps for PET bottles when brewing with us. We have corks and caps available for sale in our Brewing Supply store too!

Cleaning Your Bottles

What’s the best way to clean your Beer, Wine or Cider bottles? Glad you asked! Here’s some tips:


  • Rinse your bottles each time you finish one. Residual sugars in empty bottles will lead to mold which is extremely difficult to remove effectively.
  • Store your bottles upside down – this allows any leftover moisture to drain and prevents dust from settling in the bottle. If you bought your bottles from us, the box they came in works very well for storage. We also carry Bottle Trees which you can use to let your bottles dry effectively.
  • Clean your bottles periodically with an appropriate cleaner – we carry a range of cleaners. Sani-Brew is easy to use and has a mild sanitizer included but it won’t take off scale or beer stone. Bottles that have been around for a while will come clean with PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) and HOT water. (PET bottles and carboys: MAX 53ºC/127ºF)
  • Check your cleaning process by holding bottles up to the light and looking in the neck – the inside bottom of the bottle is where most bad things tend to collect. There shouldn’t be any dark spots or marks


  • Don’t use dish soap. Dish soap leaves residue behind that will affect the stability of Beer, Wine or Cider and may impact the flavour as well as head retention for carbonated products
  • Don’t use scented dishwasher detergent to clean your bottles, unless you like Lemon-Fresh tasting drinks
  • Don’t leave bottles upright after emptying them – they WILL generate mold and other organics that are very hard to remove. Mold and organics react particularly strongly with beer and will cause significant problems while bottling, as well as off flavours and reduced shelf life. A quick rinse after emptying will generally prevent this, but if you are seeing dark spots in your bottles we recommend a soak in PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) with HOT water. We also sell Bottle Brushes which can help dislodge stuck on residue.
  • Don’t take it personally if we want to help you improve the cleanliness of your bottles. If we notice something during bottling, we will try and help you sort it out. Beer reacts with organics; if your bottle is continuing to generate foam after filling, there is something in the bottle reacting with the beer.

Bottle Cleaning Equipment

We carry a variety of bottle cleaning equipment, cleaners and sanitizers here at Terminal City Brewing!