Guide to Reusing and Refilling Your Bottles

Minimizing waste from beauty and personal care products has been part of Twinkle Apothecary’s mission since 2015.

Many of my products are offered in package-free refill bags, so that you can repurpose the bottles you already have at home. If you’re a $5/month member of the Twinkle Apothecary Patreon community, you can even ship your old bottles back to me, and I’ll fill them up with anything you like! (Return shipping for refills is free, or included in the cost of your membership. Oh, also, refills are 20% off the retail price, so the savings you earn from refilling your bottles can easily pay for your membership!) 

Whether you’re shipping them back to me or refilling them on your own at home, preparing your old Twinkle Apothecary bottles (or any glass bottles) to be refilled with fresh, new product is easier than you think.

Preparing your bottles

 First, consider the shelf life

For example, Oil has a 1-year shelf life. If you're refilling your bottle every month (easily done if you have a small bottle that you're using for everything!) you don't have to do the whole cleaning and sanitizing process every month. Technically, you can do it yearly, although if the bottle starts to look grubby you might want to wash it sooner.

Toner has a 6-month shelf life, so technically you'll just need to sanitize it around the 6-month mark, although again, washing and sanitizing your bottle sooner never hurts! 

Powder/dry products have even more wiggle room, but it's still probably a good idea to wash out the bottle every 6 months to a year. 

And of course, if you want to reuse a bottle for a different kind of product with a different fragrance, you'll need to wash out whatever was in there first. 

Here's how. 

Washing and Sanitizing your Bottles

*Optional* Peel off the label.

Rubbing alcohol will remove any residual stickiness from labels and stickers. 

Wash in hot, soapy water, using a bottle brush.


The hotter the water, the more easily any oils or other residue will come clean. Always use a bottle brush to remove all of the product from the bottom edges of the bottle. You can soak your bottles in soapy water for a bit if they need extra help coming clean. I also do this little thing where I fill up the bottle about halfway with soapy water, cover the opening with my thumb, and give it a good shake. Whatever you gotta do to get it really good and clean! Rinse thoroughly to remove all of the soap, of course.  

Sanitize it.

Did you know that tap water contains potentially harmful microbes and bacteria? Our digestive system kills those little bugs when we drink water, but if they sit around in your skincare bottles, they can lead to bacteria overgrowth that can mess with your skin or even make you sick.

It's helpful to do an extra sanitizing step to make sure your bottle is really clean. There are several different ways to go about it. 

1. Do a sanitizing rinse with Iodophor

Iodophor is a food-safe, iodine-based sanitizer for bottles and kitchen equipment. It's easy to find on Amazon, and is often sold with things like home brewing kits for sanitizing the equipment. I use this in the shop to rinse my tools and equipment at the end of the day. This is the most effective way to remove the previous fragrance too.

2. Rinse with alcohol after the bottle is dry

A high-proof rubbing alcohol will work for this. Make sure you allow the bottle to dry completely afterward so the alcohol fully evaporates.

3. Boil for 3-5 minutes in distilled water

Allow it to dry completely afterward.

4. Use a baby bottle sanitizer

Hey, I don't know. Maybe you have one on hand!

5. UV light

A UV light wand or box is another way to sanitize your bottles after washing without adding any extra drying time.

Here's the thing.

I won't know if you skip the sanitizing step because bacteria and microbes are invisible. It's your skin, skip it at your own risk! 

Cleaning and sanitizing the caps 

Glass droppers can be washed and sanitized the same way as you would the bottle, but plastic spray pumps are trickier. I'd rinse those in alcohol (spraying some up through the cap to get the inside rinsed if you can,) and allow them to dry completely.

Drying time

This is the most important part!

Your bottle and cap must be completely dry before you can fill it with fresh product. I'm sorry to say that it can take over 24 hours, but it's worth the wait. With the exception of toner and wave spray, my products are anhydrous (free from water,) so everything needs to be dry before it can be refilled. Even a drop of water could lead to harmful bacteria or mold growth in your oil or cleanser bottle. I won't refill anything in my shop if it appears to be wet, (except a bottle of toning mist or wave spray that's still within its shelf life!) and you shouldn't at home either. You will regret it, trust me.

Refilling your bottles at home. 

Time to invest in a couple of funnels! A soft silicone funnel (like the ones pictured above) is the best thing for filling a bottle with a powdered product because you can squeeze the bottom of the funnel to get the product through without making a mess. A regular hard plastic or metal funnel is fine for liquid refills. 

Storing the refill bags

twinkle apothecary refill bag

It's always best to transfer the contents of your refill bag to your bottle (or another airtight container) ASAP, to prevent them from drying out or absorbing too much moisture from the air. Bags aren't the best option for long-term storage, especially if you're storing them under the sink where they can become leaked on by faulty plumbing. Always keep your Twinkle products dry!

If you're considering joining me on Patreon, you might be wondering which products can (or cannot) be refilled. 

Pretty much everything can be refilled, so it's easier to tell you what can't be refilled: 

Acne Spot Treatment 

The Stain

Solid/creamy products like balm, butter, deodorant, and body butter. Although, you can clean out the jars and refill them with a dry/powder product, like setting powder, dry shampoo, cleanser, or even shimmer powder.

I hope you'll consider going package free and refilling your favorite Twinkle products to keep your bottles out of the trash. But this is a judgement free zone, so don't stress if it feels like a chore. Just throw out the caps, rinse out the glass and put it in your recycling bin. Then come back for more good things!


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