Can You Recycle Laundry Detergent Bottles? (Find Out Now!)

Jennifer Eggerton
by Jennifer Eggerton

Laundry detergent bottles are convenient until it’s time to throw them in the trash. They take up a lot of room, and the bag is full before you know it. Can you recycle laundry detergent bottles instead of throwing them out?

Laundry detergent bottles are 100% recyclable. The bottles need to be empty. Don’t rinse the bottles. Take them to your local recycling center or place them in your recycling bin. Repurpose old laundry detergent bottles by making hand weights, scoops, funnels, tool storage, and craft templates. Poke holes in the lid for a watering can or drip irrigation.

Let’s look at how to recycle plastics, and what to do with your empty laundry detergent bottles.

What Types of Plastic Can You Recycle?

Not all plastic is the same. Being able to recognize the types of plastics that can be recycled makes life much easier. Here are 4 types of plastic items that can be recycled.

  • Plastic Bottles: This includes bottles used for cleaning products, water, and hygiene and personal care products. The lids are also recyclable. Pumps and spouts cannot be recycled.
  • Containers: Single-use food storage containers can be recycled. The lids are also recyclable.
  • Jugs: Think milk jugs, water jugs, and laundry detergent bottles. The jugs and lids are recyclable.
  • Food Trays: Single-use food trays, including ones for the microwave, are recyclable.

What Types of Plastic Cannot Be Recycled?

There are some plastics to watch for when you are sorting your items for recycling. Here are 5 types of plastic that cannot be recycled.

  • Foam: Any type of foam, including packing materials, cannot be recycled. Check with your local recycling center to find out how to best dispose of foam items.
  • Plastic Bags: By now, everyone has heard how plastic bags are destroying the oceans. Unfortunately, they are not recyclable. Look for a specialized recycling center that accepts plastic bags.
  • Plastic Product Packaging: The nearly childproof, sharp-edged plastic product packaging that is used for almost everything is not recyclable.
  • Rigid Plastic: Large, rigid plastic items cannot be recycled. This includes household items, such as laundry baskets, trash cans, buckets, and plastic storage bins. Check with your local recycling center to find out how to dispose of these items.
  • Storage Bags: Disposable food storage bags are not recyclable. They are made with a combination of materials that interfere with the recycling process.

Can You Recycle Laundry Detergent Bottles?

Laundry detergent bottles are 100% recyclable. They fall under the category of jugs and single-use containers.

But, let’s be honest. Storing empty laundry detergent bottles until your next trip to the recycling center is a pain. The bottles are bulky, and they take up a lot of room. Here’s 2 tips for reducing the space needed for storing the bottles.

  • Take off the lid. Squeeze the sides of the bottle to collapse it. Put the lid back on. This removes the air and reduces the size of the bottle.
  • Cut the bottle into smaller pieces. Start by cutting around the spout. Next, cut along the sides and bottom of the bottle.

How to Prepare Laundry Detergent Bottles for Recycling

Should you rinse empty laundry detergent bottles before you turn them in for recycling? Surprisingly, the answer is no. The soap residue inside the bottles helps to clean the plastic. This makes sure that every drop of soap is used. There is absolutely no waste.

What is Made from Recycled Laundry Detergent Bottles?

So, what becomes of your recycled laundry detergent bottles? Plastic is one of the most recycled materials, and here’s a list of products that give your laundry detergent bottle a second life.

  • Playground equipment
  • Benches
  • Clothing
  • Garden tools
  • Picture frames
  • Building products
  • Foam packaging
  • Yarn and rope
  • Camping equipment
  • Carpeting
  • Fences
  • Deck materials

What Can You Do with Plastic Laundry Detergent Bottles?

Aside from recycling, laundry detergent bottles can also be upcycled, or repurposed. Here are 10 ways to upcycle the bottles.

  • Fill them with sand, rice, or beans for a set of hand weights.
  • Cut the bottle to be used as a scoop (think kitty litter and pooper scoopers).
  • Keep a few empty laundry detergent bottles in your car. Use them to hold tarps and tents in place while camping.
  • Make a funnel with the top part of the bottle.
  • Use the bottom part for storing tools in the garage or garden.
  • Make templates for crafts. They last longer than paper.
  • Poke holes in the lid, and make a sprinkling water container for plants.
  • Make a single hole in the lid. Fill the bottle with water, and put it upside down in your garden. It will slowly water your plants.

How to Use Laundry Detergent Bottles for Crafts

Scissors are not the best tool for cutting a rigid plastic laundry detergent bottle. The blades just slip along the surface, and trying to make an entry point is dangerous. Instead, use an Exacto® knife. Use a fresh blade, and slowly insert it through the plastic. Slowly draw the blade along the plastic to cut it. Don’t try to saw the plastic. Take your time, and go slow. Parents should cut the plastic for their children’s projects.

Related Questions

How do you make homemade laundry detergent?

Combine 4.5 ounces of shaved bar soap with 14 ounces of Borax® and 14 ounces of washing soda. Mix by hand or in a food processor. If you prefer liquid laundry detergent, add water until it makes a thick liquid. Store the laundry detergent in an old laundry detergent bottle.

What does the recycling number on the bottom of a plastic container mean?

Everyone is familiar with the distinctive symbol for recyclable products. The number inside the three arrows indicates the type of plastic used. The Resin Identification Codes are needed because some plastics require special processes for recycling.


Laundry detergent bottles are 100% recyclable. You don’t even have to rinse them. In fact, leaving the soap inside helps with the recycling process. Empty laundry detergent bottles are also very easy to upcycle. Because they are so versatile, you can keep them out of the landfills, and get a few more years out of them.

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Jennifer Eggerton
Jennifer Eggerton

Jennifer L. Eggerton loves being hands-on, whether it's with a home DIY project, making repairs, re-decorating a room, or keeping life organized. She enjoys helping people by sharing her knowledge, insights, and experiences, as well as her lessons learned. In addition to her work as a writer, Jennifer is a Jeep® overlander, self-published author, and nature photographer who loves being outdoors.

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