24 Creative Ideas to Upcycle Detergent Bottles

Skip the recycling bin for an easy, green alternative

Keeping your laundry clean
PeopleImages / Getty Images

Laundry detergent jugs, laundry pod containers, and bleach bottles are basic commodities in almost every home. They come in every shape, color, and size—and empty detergent bottles are perfect to upcycle for more fun and useful projects than you can imagine. Here are 24 detergent container ideas so you can repurpose what would otherwise have ended up in the recycle bin after only one use.


How do you clean detergent bottles for reuse and upcycling? It's easy! Just rinse well with hot water until there are no longer soap suds coming out of the bottle, towel-dry, or let them thoroughly air-dry with the cap off.

  • 01 of 24

    Tone Up

    Buying weights for exercise can be expensive. Instead, save two identical detergent bottles and fill them with water, kitty litter, or sand to use as weights in strength training. Choose a bottle with a good handle that fits your hand and is easy to grip.

  • 02 of 24

    Scoop It Up

    The heavy plastic used to make most detergent and bleach bottles is ideal for making an inexpensive scoop. When the bottle is empty, rinse it well and use a utility knife or X-acto knife to cut around the circumference at the middle of the bottle. Use the bottle half with the handle to scoop up fertilizer, dirt, or even pet waste.

    If it gets messy or broken, toss it in the recycle bin and make a new one.

  • 03 of 24

    Weigh It Down

    Empty detergent bottles filled with sand or water can be used to hold down a tarp or portable sports equipment like a pitching net or basketball hoop.

  • 04 of 24

    Fill It Up

    After rinsing the empty bottle very well, use the same techniques for creating a scoop, and then cut off the top part of detergent bottles to create a funnel for all those messy jobs such as filling the lawnmower with gasoline or changing the oil in equipment. The funnel can then be tossed in the recycle bin.

    Continue to 5 of 24 below.
  • 05 of 24

    Tool Caddy for the Garage

    Large detergent bottles make a perfect tool caddy for the garage. Cut a hole in the side leaving the handle intact and fill it with the necessary tools for the job you're doing.

    Smaller bottles, cut the same way, are great for separating and holding nails, screws, and other small pieces. You can even label the outside with a permanent marker for quick access.

  • 06 of 24

    Clear the Way

    Store rock salt or kitty litter in a clean and thoroughly dry detergent bottle, tightly capped. When the snow or ice storm hits and you need to clear your sidewalk, path, or driveway, you can open it, hold it by the handle, and sprinkle away without ever taking off your gloves.

  • 07 of 24

    Sturdy Craft Templates

    If you enjoy crafting, you know that each time you use a paper template it changes size just a tiny bit. For plastic templates, including stencils, that can be used many times, use the plastic of a laundry bottle.

    Simply cut off the top and bottom of the bottle and discard them in the recycle bin. Slit the remaining circle of plastic so it will lie flat. Mark off the template with a permanent marker and cut it out to use over and over again.

  • 08 of 24

    Water Away

    Almost any size detergent bottle can be made into a gentle sprinkler for watering plants.

    Rinse the bottle thoroughly and dry well. Use an ice pick or awl to punch holes in the lid. Fill the bottle with water, tighten the cap and sprinkle away.

    Continue to 9 of 24 below.
  • 09 of 24

    Drip Irrigation

    If you want to apply a slow, steady supply of water to a plant, use a detergent bottle to create drip irrigation.

    Wash out the bottle thoroughly; use a pin or very small nail to punch several holes in the bottom. Fill the bottle with water and set it next to the plant. The water will slowly seep into the soil and root system. This is particularly helpful for tender plants if you are going to be away for a day or so.

    Small bottles prepared the same way can be used to water potted plants.

  • 10 of 24

    Crafts for the Kids

    From piggy banks to Halloween and Christmas decorations, the laundry room offers plenty of creative materials for craft-making.

    Create snowmen from white bottles and monsters from colorful bottles by adding felt or foam decorations. Detergent bottle lids make perfect bells or can be strung together in a chain.

  • 11 of 24

    Car Helpers

    Keep a couple of bottles filled with sand or rock salt in the trunk of your car during winter months not only for the weight, but to de-ice dangerous spots while your on-the-go and create traction for tires when needed.

  • 12 of 24

    Pet Food Scoops

    A handled detergent bottle can easily reach into a large bin of pet food to grab a serving for dinnertime. Cut the top off but leave the handle for the perfect scoop. Customize the scoop with paw print decorations and your pet's name.

    Continue to 13 of 24 below.
  • 13 of 24

    Games and Toys

    Kids bored? Create a new game or toy using laundry jugs and it won't matter if kids are tough on them because you can always make more. Repurpose laundry detergent bottles into these three fun toys:

    • Beach shovel: Cut the bottom off a handled container (keep the top on) and use it to shovel sand at the beach.
    • Toy car: Turn a bottle horizontally on its side with the handle facing up. Hot glue plastic wheels that you've recycled from another toy that may have bit the dust. Or, use four tops from other containers as wheels.
    • Ball catcher: Use this method for two or more bottles for a fun game of catch. Turn a detergent bottle upside down (keep the cap on). Use a sharp utility knife to cut off the bottom of the jug up to the handle (keep the handle intact). Put electrical or duct tape over the sharp edge. For a challenging game of catch, grab a friend, a small ball, and start the fun!
  • 14 of 24

    Bird Feeders

    There are so many ways to fashion a detergent bottle into a bird feeder. One easy method is to take a container with a handle and cut "windows" on the sides of the bottle.

    Draw three or four large squares on the bottle about an inch up from the bottom and top and cut them out with a sharp utility knife while leaving vertical strips in place that are about 2-inches wide. Glue twigs or dowels onto the bottom of the bottle for perches. Fill the bottom of the bottle with bird seed, hang the bottle from its cap by hot-gluing twine around it, and looping it at the top. Or simply tie twine around the handle and hang it from a tree.

  • 15 of 24

    Garden Planters

    The designs for detergent bottle planters are endless. Use a marker to draw your shape on the bottle so you know where to cut, using scissors or a sharp utility knife.

    • Face planters: Cut the bottom of a bottle off, turn it upside down with the cap still on, fill it with dirt and a plant, and poke drainage holes in the cap. (Paint a face on the bottle with the handle as the nose and eyes on each side.)
    • Dish planters: Cut off the tops of detergent bottles for dish or "bucket" planters. Then cut intricately shaped rims to create elegant planters. Use an awl or drill to create drainage holes in the bottom of the bottle.
    • Hanging outdoor planters: Cut handles off the bottle at an angle. Drill or use an awl to punch holes on the side near the top of your creation to create a hanging planter. Make a couple of drainage holes at the bottom of the planter. For a plant hanger idea, thread wire or chains through the top hole for hanging. Finally, fill the planter with dirt and plants. Make sure you create drainage holes on the bottom.
  • 16 of 24

    Magazine Holders

    Why pay top dollar at the office supply store for simple magazine holders to organize your workspace? Make them by upcycling large laundry detergent bottles. There are two ways to make these awesome holders. You can cut the bottles down 2/3 of the way with just enough of a lip at the bottom to hold magazines or books upright.

    The second way is to draw the outline of a magazine holder on a bottle (you will cut off the handle) and use a utility knife to cut out the shape. You should have three sides, a bottom, and an open side to slide in magazines. Glue a few of these together for a sturdier "magazine" holder. You can also use books.

    Continue to 17 of 24 below.
  • 17 of 24

    Fairy Villages and Dioramas

    You don't have to be a kid to love fairy dollhouses or dioramas. They are works of art you can create by cutting out the faces of a laundry detergent bottle and then decorating the inside with miniature items. Why not turn the interior of a detergent bottle into a miniature laundry room and hang it as decor in your own laundry room? Use multiple bottles to create interiors for a fairy village.

  • 18 of 24

    DIY Dustpans

    If you have a dirty job to clean up or scoop up, why not create a single-use dustpan to do the job, then just toss it in the recycling bin. It's a perfect gardening tool.

    You'll need a detergent bottle with a handle. Use a marker to draw the shape of your dustpan on the bottle, incorporating the handle. At the bottom of the handle, draw out the shape of a shovel and cut it with a sharp utility knife.

  • 19 of 24

    Paint Containers

    Keep paint from drying out by storing the leftovers in clean laundry bottles. Just remember to paint a smear on the bottle so you remember what color is inside. Choose a handled bottle to make it easier to shake up the paint next time you need it. If you only need a bit of paint at a time for touch-ups, make use of the bottle cap and the excess will drain right back into the bottle when you're done.

  • 20 of 24

    Flower Vases

    Repurpose laundry pod containers, especially oval ones, into pretty vases to hold fresh, silk, or dried flowers and foliage. Add decoupage, glittery paint, marbled contact paper, glue-on gems, or anything else that fits your home decor.

    Continue to 21 of 24 below.
  • 21 of 24

    Desk Caddy Organizers

    Organize yourself with recycled laundry jugs and caps. Create a desk caddy from a jug by cutting the top and handle off of a jug, decorating it, and voila, you'll have a place to store your pens and pencils. Or glue smaller cups and bottles to the bottle to add multiple organizational compartments.

    For a smaller desktop organization tool, use the caps from several laundry containers to create a caddy. Hot glue them together side-by-side, or hot glue the bottoms onto a tray with the open ends of the caps facing up to hold odds and ends like paper clips, flash drives, and pens and pencils. Decorate the rims of the caps with ribbon or another type of trim for a finished organizer.

  • 22 of 24

    Dangling Earrings

    Can't find just the right color earrings for an outfit? Look to your laundry bottles! Head to the craft store to get earring fish hooks or a simple earring-making kit to create your own jewelry, plus it's a great project to do with kids (and it teaches them the joy of upcycling, too). Carefully cut out a large square from your jug. Use a template to sketch your desired shape for your earrings. Cut the shapes with a very sharp craft or utility knife, use an awl to punch a small hole in the plastic, and attach the plastic to the hooks. Layer shapes and colors for a festive custom look.

  • 23 of 24

    DIY Yard Decor

    Once again, colorful plastic detergent bottles can be used to jazz up garden decor. Use a sharp utility knife or scissors to cut out as much of the plastic from the bottle that isn't marred with ink or labeling. Cut out petal shapes. Hot glue the petals into flower shapes, add a round shape in the middle, glue the flower to a pipe cleaner, twig, or stick as the stem, and arrange in the garden or in pots to add flower power to your yard, patio, or deck.

  • 24 of 24

    Transformed Light Fixtures

    Why waste all that lovely translucent plastic? Create inexpensive light fixtures in several ways. Cut out shapes, such as petals, and hot glue them onto inexpensive, plain outdoor solar stake lights. White or light color bottles will create a lovely glow in your garden at night.

    For boho-style indoor fixtures, cut out circles that you can attach with wire or chains to a lampshade frame (the concept is like a beaded curtain). Just remember to use plastic with heatless LED bulbs.

Watch Now: The Most Genius Way to Reuse Detergent Containers