Can You Recycle Bleach Bottles? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Bleach is a hot commodity these days, so there are lots of empty bottles lying around, waiting to take up space in a landfill, unless, of course, you can recycle these bleach bottles. 

Sure, you can recycle most plastics, but these bottles were contaminated with bleach, so that makes recycling them more of a question, right? Continue reading to find out this answer ad more!

Can You Recycle Bleach Bottles?

Thankfully, you can recycle bleach bottles easily, even though they originally carried such strong chemicals. Recycling plants thoroughly wash all donated plastics, so as long as you remove all the bleach from the bottle, you can safely recycle them. However, there are specific steps and facts you should know before you recycle bleach bottles. 

Since bleach bottles are made from really tough plastic, they are some of the best containers to recycle. This also means there are many risks to not recycling them. Read on for all you need to know about recycling bleach bottles! 

What Materials Are Bleach Bottles Made Of?

To make recycling and manufacturing easier, plants use seven types of plastic for a variety of different products. 

Plastics are identified and coded by the type of resin they’re made of, each of which will have a specific label used to help workers in recycling plants. 

Since bleach is heavy, manufacturers use a type two grade plastic called High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which they specifically designed to carry heavier weights. 

It’s resistant to mildew, mold, and bacteria, highly dense to keep the containers from tearing or bursting, moldable, and easily melted and recycled. 

To make HDPE, manufacturers use Ethane gas which they heat to about 1500 Degrees to break the molecules apart to create ethylene. 

As it slowly cools, it becomes a resin while under intense pressure. 

These and other steps make it a highly versatile material, which can be easily molded into particular shapes, densities, flexibilities, and thicknesses. 

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Therefore, engineers created, through trial and error, a low-maintenance material that is incredibly strong, versatile, and long-lasting. 

Consequently, HDPE grade plastic is in high demand worldwide, with an estimated 30 million tons of it used every year. 

Furthermore, HDPE is commonly used as a food-grade plastic for things like milk, soda bottles, and heavy juice containers.

Specifically, it effectively stores perishable goods but is not manufactured for long-term food storage. 

Since it is inexpensive to make, HDPE is used by manufacturing companies to make these perishable food containers as well as more practical items like plastic lumber. 

Is HDPE Biodegradable?

Is HDPE Biodegradable?

Since HDPE is so easy to make and has a large variety of uses, it is widely used even for products people will only use once. 

Though some companies say it will biodegrade in a little under 100 years, researchers believe it could take between 450-1000 years for much of the HDPE plastic waste to decompose. 

Therefore, the defining factor is HDPE’s chemical makeup.

Polyethylene, a major component of HDPE, does not absorb sunlight and its composition makes it impervious to mold, bacteria, and mildew.  

Much of this plastic waste is made up of plastic bags, which are unrecyclable but widely used. 

Furthermore, how trash companies handle the large amount of trash, they receive daily also increases HDPE’s lifespan in landfills. 

High accumulations of HDPE, compacted and piled on top of itself innumerable times, make decomposition extraordinarily difficult. 

Needless to say, since HDPE is used worldwide, there are countless landfills rapidly filling with a material that is hazardous to the environment. 

HDPE Is An Ideal Recycling Material

HDPE might be bad trash, but its chemical makeup makes it an ideal plastic to recycle. 

Plus, it is more cost-effective to recycle HDPE than to manufacture completely new material. 

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This is why recycling centers worldwide readily accept HDPE materials because it is one of the easiest plastics to recycle. 

To recycle plastics like HDPE, workers go through various steps to ensure the material is sellable and effective. 

They sort them according to their labels, thoroughly clean them from debris and residues, shred, and then melt them into pellets for reuse. 

Since it has a high density and moldability, HDPE is an ideal recycling material. 

Therefore, it can be recycled multiple times without breaking down or becoming unusable. 

In fact, researchers estimate HDPE has a service life of 10-20 years and can be recycled for at least 100-200 years. 

How To Recycle Bleach Bottles

Since bleach bottles are made of HDPE, it is very beneficial to the environment to regularly recycle them. 

Additionally, since they are highly dense and large, it’s easier for manufacturers to recycle them at their facilities. 

To make it easier for recycling plants, there are simple steps you can take before turning in empty bleach bottles and other plastics to these facilities. 

Properly Clean And Prepare Bleach Bottles Before Recycling

First and foremost, make sure they’re completely empty so that heavy liquids won’t inhibit recycling machines during processing. 

Once empty, you can rinse the bottles and replace the lid, t is also recommended you keep the label on so workers can identify they are HDPE grade bottles. 

You can also do this with milk jugs, laundry detergent containers, and other plastic containers you have that originally carried liquids. 

Become Familiar With Local Recycling Policies

Since bleach bottles are made with HDPE, they will ore likely be accepted at most recycling facilities. 

However, it is still better to make sure beforehand if your local facility can take them. 

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Though the recycling process is relatively the same wherever you go, how you recycle changes depending on your location. 

Furthermore, each town has its own recycling policies, and for many, you’ll need to dig before you find recycling options in your area. 

Additionally, some recycling plants don’t accept certain types of materials, while others will charge you for any materials you bring. 

Therefore, since regulations vary everywhere, it’s highly beneficial to become familiar with certain limitations you might have to face. 

It will also help you recycle responsibly and effectively. There are also certain things you’ll need to explore in your local recycling department. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Containers you’ll need for collected recycling materials
  • How/If these facilities collect materials 
  • Which items they do and do not accept 
  • Scheduling for material pickup vs. Dropping off materials
  • Possible damage which makes items unrecyclable 

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle Styrofoam and plastic egg cartons, whether you can recycle bubble mailers, and whether you can recycle cup of noodles.


Recycling bleach bottles is not only possible, but it is also highly recommended because of the effect it can have on the environment and how useful of a material it is for recycling plants. 

Furthermore, as long as you take proper care of the bottles and clean them out after use recycling them is easy. Just do proper research on your local recycling facilities to make sure they’ll take this type of plastic and then drop them off!


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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