Tired cleaning lady on white with spray bottle that won't spray!

Some (But Not All) Spray Bottles are Designed to Fail

Many commercial household cleaning products—glass and window cleaner for example—routinely come in a bottle with a hand sprayer. And we love that, as long as it works the way we expect that it should, which is not for long.

Tired cleaning lady on white with spray bottle that won't spray!

First, there’s the problem of a bottle design that makes it impossible to spray out every last bit of product because that tube doesn’t go all the way to the bottom. Or the mother of all frustrations: When the nozzle clogs up or for some other reason the thing just refuses to spray. Grrrrr!

There’s no way to fix that bottle design, but with a little diligence, you should be able to get the sprayer unclogged and working again for at least as long as it takes to use up the product (hot water, a paper clip to clear the nozzle, taking it all apart).

Some Spray Bottles Are Designed to Fail

Meant to be disposable

The sad truth is the nifty sprayer that comes with that window commercial cleaner is meant to be disposable. It was designed to die about the time you need to buy more cleaner. Think of these sprayers as you do cottage cheese containers and screw-cap soda bottles. They’re considered single-purpose, one-and-done. Know this going in and you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration.

The solution is to stop relying on cheap, disposable sprayers. Understand the difference between disposable and quality spray bottles, then choose to own a few of the latter.


A bottle of wine on a table


I’m fairly certain I’ve purchased and tested just about every spray bottle known to the civilized world. Some have triggers that are painful to use, others rely on annoying pump action. Some bottles are too small or the grip is so poorly designed, I can’t even get my hand around it and lift the bottle at the same time.

Some sprayers fall apart way too soon or become hopelessly clogged, which drives me mad. But rest assured not all are troublesome. I’ve narrowed the field to two—large plastic spray bottles and smaller glass spray bottles, both of which in my opinion are 100% awesome.


Best Inexpensive Spray Bottles


This is the closest to perfection I have found in a plastic spray bottle. The bottle itself is 32-oz., which is large enough for any use, but works for small jobs as well.

  • The bottle has ounce measurements printed right on the side.
  • It comes with a pressurized sprayer, which means it’s always at the ready. I don’t have to pump several times to get the thing going once it’s pressurized upon first use.
  • The plastic tube goes all the way to the bottom of the bottle.
  • The nozzle is adjustable.
  • This heavy-duty plastic bottle is well-designed to handle chemicals and harsh solvents.
  • Best of all, the trigger on a Harris Professional Spray Bottle is large enough for four fingers. That makes repetitive spraying so much easier. I’d not considered how helpful that would be.
  • The grip and trigger on this bottle fit my hand, but also my husband’s—that’s a wide range. I get these spray bottles online in a 3-pack.

I use these smaller 16-ounce amber glass bottles for products with essential oils, cleaners that contain hydrogen peroxide (need to be shielded from light and the amber makes for a dark place), and various other kinds of health, beauty, and cleaning solutions. This is the bottle I use for Nok-Out when I have a small odor elimination issue. It’s handy that way.

The spray top that comes with each amber glass bottle works great—flawlessly in fact. So far and after years of use, I have not had one sprayer clog or fail.

These amber glass spray bottles come in a 2-pack with handy labels. They’re so lovely, I have used them as gifts, which should get your creative juices flowing.

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  1. mikel clifford says:

    Could you suggest where to keep lotions whose original containers are long and narrow? My go-to lotion for the last 60 years now becomes—after opening it—too thick to squeeze out. What might I transfer my lotion into when opened so I can access it a month later? I’ve warmed it in a pan of water, but viscosity doesn’t last for long. Thanks!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      You could transfer it to a lotion jar, like this kind, available online HERE. Then instead of squeezing it from a tube, simply dip into the product with your fingers or a small scoop or paddle. You may have a jar like that already that you could recycle.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Every chance I get. Sadly, in the past years many (most?) manufacturers have relocated production to foreign resources. It’s going to take time, government incentives, and consumers who are willing to pay more for products Made in USA to bring manufacturing back.

  2. Deb R. says:

    Love these suggestions! I have encountered too many bottles with a sprayer that stops working when over half the product is still in the bottle. And often, the sprayer cannot be removed from the container in order to put the product in the more reliable bottles like the ones you have mentioned above. What is your answer to these containers that simply cannot be opened in order to transfer the remaining product?

    • Rae says:

      Use a pair of plyers or a vice and squeeze until the plastic cap breaks. The bottle and sprayer are on longer usable but you can put remaining contents in spray bottle of your choice!

  3. Jeannie Bendel says:

    Love the Harris bottles. Bought them several years ago at your suggestion. They are heavy duty and still working!

  4. Birgit Nicolaisen says:

    I buy Shout at Sam’s Club. It comes with a spray bottle and a large container for refills. I ended up with extra spray bottles, so I use those for hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and blue dawn etc. They hold up really well.

  5. Carole Manners says:

    I have read you for years and follow your suggestions. Have the better spray bottle. One irritation I have is the large bottles of lotion …….it is impossible to get to the bottom because the tubing does not reach the bottom. Then I have to turn it upside down in the bathroom for at least a week to finish the container. I have called the corporations to complain but there is no change, of course! How do you manage this problem? Thank you!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      The solution isn’t that great … but here it is: Using sharp utility scissors, cut the bottle down the side and around to open it up and reveal the contents. Then scrape the remaining product into a short, squatty-type jar or another container that will allow you to reach in and use up every last bit of product.

    • Brenda says:

      When my tubes of lotion get to the end I simply cut it off. This allows me to put my finger in to get the product. As needed I cut down the side of the tube. I close it up with a bag clip or place it in a plastic bag. I get quite a number of applications.

  6. Angela says:

    Here’s what I do for every single bottle that makes it impossible to get the last remnants of product…(hair spray, shampoo, lotion, etc). When my existing bottle starts to get light, I know the end is near. I get out the new bottle and start using it. I put the existing bottle away f for a week or two. Once the brand new bottle starts to lighten up a little, I then open the old bottle and pour the remaining product into the new bottle. I never lose a drop…works very efficiently.

  7. Sandy says:

    How about the foam tops on foam hand soap? I have had many go to trash and the plastic bottle bottle into recycling. Most don’t work even thru half the bottle of hand soap.

    • Diana says:

      Hi Sandy, seems like when you make your own foam hand soap the pump gets clogged. Put water into a bowl, then put pump into the water and keep pumping until it gets cleared out. Just had to do that today, works great. Doesn’t seem to happen when you purchase the foam soap refills, but that is expensive.

  8. ROBERT SMITH says:

    I really like the Harris spray bottles, they are great for just about anything. I have two sets of three. For a while, Amazon didn’t have them listed as available and I considered another brand. I am glad I waited on the Harris bottles to return.

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