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12 Ways to Clean a Narrow Neck Vase

I was on the hunt for a teeny tiny vase and recently thrifted one (that’s made in England)!  Hubby hates thrift stores but he was with me when I found it, reinforcing my belief that he is my lucky charm and must accompany me on all thrifting adventures.  Hear that?  That’s Hubby sobbing quietly in the background.

The vase was a little bit dirty inside and when I brought it home I realized my bottle brush didn’t fit.  I really need a set of these Lee Valley brushes.  I tried soaking the vase in soapy water but no dice.  No worries, I had a plan.


I poured in a few drops of undiluted dish soap and let it sit overnight.  Then I taped a Q-tip to a wood skewer and scrubbed gently.  (You can also buy extra long cotton swabs).  All the gunk and dirt came off with just a little coaxing.  I rinsed out the vase and, voila, a new home for my . . . drumroll please . . . first ever real billy button.

You know how much I loved my felted wool version, but now I have the real deal.  In Budapest we got into the habit of buying fresh flowers from older women selling them at subway stations.  This was the only billy button of all the bunches, so I saved it and smuggled it home.


Here are eleven other tricks for cleaning narrow, uncooperative vases:

Most tricks I read about depend on either using some kind of acidic solution or something abrasive, sometimes a combination of both.

  1. Pour in baking soda, salt and vinegar, swish gently and then rinse thoroughly
  2. Use crushed eggshells and dish soap and shake gently
  3. Pour in fine sand and shake gently, rinsing with vinegar or hot water
  4. Add uncooked rice and fill with soapy water, shake gently
  5. Use a combination of popcorn kernels and vinegar, swirl around and rinse
  6. Chop up ice cubes and add, along with salt, shake mixture and rinse (you can also add some lemon juice)
  7. Toss in broken up pieces of a denture cleaning tablet, allow to sit overnight and rinse
  8. Use toilet cleaning solution (it’s tough on grime I hear)
  9. Squeeze in some salt, cotton balls and rubbing alcohol and shake vigorously – the cotton balls will help wipe up what the salt loosens and will slide out easily when wet
  10. Use the end of a chop stick, with piece of paper towel or a cloth secured with a rubber band, to gently scrub the the stains
  11. Make a bottle brush with a few pipe cleaners twisted together

Here’s a tip to keep a vase from building sediment: pour in some vegetable oil, swish it around and then pour it out.  That residue, I’m told, will keep your next bunch of flowers from staining the vase.

Do you do any of these tricks or have one of your own?



  1. Amy
    February 21, 2013 / 7:05 pm

    uGH… I hate cleaning vases. Do all these work for that white residue that stays on vases?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 22, 2013 / 1:52 am

      Supposedly!! I did a weirdly large amount of research and that residue is what most tips are trying to remedy. However, I think the residue really does need some type of solution, like vinegar or toilet cleaner and not just the swishing action of rice. Good luck cleaning and if you find any of these are awesome/not awesome, let me know! I cherry picked ideas with the most positive feedback from friends, family and the worldwide web!

  2. Dana@Mid2Mod
    February 21, 2013 / 10:33 pm

    Ammonia and BBs work well too, and if it's a clear glass vase, a final rinse with rubbing alcohol makes for a quick, streak-free dry.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 22, 2013 / 1:52 am

      Good tip!! You have these amazing cleaning tips, I propose starting a second blog about keeping a home beautiful (not just mid-century). You have so much information 🙂

  3. Jazmyn Strydom
    February 22, 2013 / 6:21 pm

    Hi Tanya,I wanted to let you know I came across your blog from Canadian House & Home (I think…) and I have now read it from Blog 1! I really enjoy your blog and now have come to a sad 'end' of catching up so now I have to await a new blog post when I want to read! You are such an inspiration! I hope to get more DIY-ey myself.. and your personality seems so much like mine! I look forward to your new posts! P.S. I am in Southern MB 🙂 So lucky I can get things shipped to the States and I just take the 40 minute drive and pick 'em right up! Mwahah! The border guys know me, we are even FB friends! Have a great long weekend and expect to see more of my comments!Sincerely,A "Dans le Townhouse" super-fan! P.P.S. I love it 'french' it up by throwing in french terms to people sometimes. And I am super excited.. I might pay the $15 to get a french Manitoba license plate 🙂 What's your pinterest link? I'd like to follow you.And now i seem like a creeper!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 23, 2013 / 12:36 am

      Hi Jazmyn,I'm so glad you left a comment – it's so nice to "meet" you! I can't believe you went back into the archives . . . some of my photos were soooo bad. Gah. Happy you stuck around in spite of them :)Haha – I love that the border guys are your facebook friends! That's so funny. Isn't being close to the border handy? I miss Thunder Bay, but happily Ottawa is pretty close to NY state, although I haven't found anywhere awesome like Ryden's to ship things to.We DO sound a lot alike. I add "le" to too many things.There's a little Pinterest icon in the right hand of the blog that you can click on to follow me on Pinterest. I'm Townhouse Tanya, lol ( you don't seem like a creeper! I might get a little creepy, now that the blog has a super-fan. Expect some gushing 🙂

    • Jazmyn Strydom
      February 25, 2013 / 5:21 pm

      Hi Tanya,It was great to see you grow as a blogger and photographer! I was very pleased reading all the posts!Oh New York is MUCH fancier than North Dakota!!I can't wait for the new posts!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 25, 2013 / 6:26 pm

      I don't know, some of the little towns in NY state are pretty . . . casual. It's so nice to hear that you've seen growth in the blog. It certainly became addictive and now I'm constantly trying to make it better. The photography is a real challenge – we have such limited light some days, esp. with winter and a lack of windows. I photographed a big space with huge windows one vacation and it was such a joy!

    • Jazmyn Strydom
      February 25, 2013 / 8:53 pm

      The little town I go to is Walhalla.. SO small!! Did you take a course at all?? I have SLOWLY started a, personal, blog.. it's a tad confusing even though I'm quite 'computer savvy'.. It'll get there! The main reason I started was hubby and I want to build a house within a few years so I want to blog about that! Working where I do, a kitchen & bath cabinet company – designing kitchens and such, it's REALLY gotten me to look closer at details in magazines and look on Houzz to find my 'style'. Poor hubby, has to endure me talking about 'sweet toilets', 'super-cute light fixtures', (< I care about the oxford comma) and 'cool windows'… By the way, it was a LONG time ago, I HAVE been to Thunder Bay! Have you ever been to Orillia?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 25, 2013 / 11:44 pm

      No courses, but I do a lot of googling when I run into problems/want to add something. I have been adding bits of code here and there and it was going swimmingly, but now I'm running into problems. I think I've made the behind the scenes part messy. But the outside is 100% prettier – I wish I had screen shots of version one. It was blah. I'm happy to share (what limited) things I have learned. Email me anytime: [email protected] for visiting Thunder Bay!! Did you see the giant? I have never been to Orillia (except to pass through it).

    • Jazmyn Strydom
      February 26, 2013 / 6:44 pm

      Thanks Tanya! I may have to take you up on that offer.. Thunder Bay was SO long ago.. I don't even remember it!

  4. Jen of MadeByGirl
    February 22, 2013 / 7:37 pm

    great tip, need to do this to about 2 of my vases… :)

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 23, 2013 / 12:22 am

      Happy cleaning!

  5. Anonymous
    February 25, 2013 / 4:33 pm

    I have been looking for testube (vase) brushes forever, and had pretty much give up on finding them. That link was exactly what I needed. Thanks a bunch.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      February 25, 2013 / 6:26 pm

      Oh, I'm so happy to have helped!! Lee Valley has everything you need (and don't need). I hope you have no trouble ordering them 🙂

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