13 Clever Ways To Repurpose An Empty Ketchup Bottle To Reduce Your Waste

Reducing your negative environmental impact requires taking a look at your waste and deciding where you can give things that would otherwise be trashed a second life. Thinking more intentionally before throwing away a condiment bottle might not single handedly save the planet, but even little changes can add up over time. According to data from Statista, a predicted 316 million Americans are using ketchup in 2024, and a good percentage of those bottles are likely ending up in landfills. Instead of throwing your ketchup containers away, discover 13 ways to reuse these bottles around your home.

There are plenty of clever ways to reuse your plastic containers in your home and garden, but when it comes to ketchup bottles, there are a few unique advantages. First, they're food safe, so you don't have to worry about harmful residue or leeching chemicals if you plan to reuse your bottle for food storage. Second, they're meant to hold a liquid without leaking or exposing it to air. Because of this, the bottles are airtight and watertight, so you don't have to worry about whatever you're storing leaking or drying out. Finally, ketchup bottles are made to dispense a small amount of liquid at a time, so they can be used in plenty of different situations where you need to control your application. There are a myriad of different uses for these simple bottles, so next time you go to toss one in the garbage, consider an alternative use first.

1. Mess-free paint mixing

Painting projects are fun for all ages, but what's significantly less enjoyable is the cleanup. If you're on the hunt for a mess-free way to mix, store, and dispense paint, you're in luck. Clean out an old ketchup bottle, then fill it with your paint — or paints, if you want to make large batch of a mixed color. Close the cap, shake it thoroughly to make sure it's well mixed, then dispense small amounts onto your palette by squeezing. When you're done, make sure the cap is completely closed to keep the paint from drying out until your next project.

2. Pancake batter dispenser

The perfect pancake is hard to achieve, but you can make the process much easier with the help of a ketchup bottle. Clean out an empty bottle, then fill it with your pancake batter. If you use box mix, you could also dump in the mix and your liquid, then shake to combine to help reduce the number of dishes you have to clean. Heat up and oil your pan as you normally would, then squeeze the bottle to precisely dispense perfectly-shaped pancakes. This hack is great for making silver dollar pancakes without mess, but it can be used for full-sized pancakes, too.

3. Wall touch-ups

In theory, paint touch-ups should be simple, but in practice, preparing and properly storing your paint typically takes more time than the actual paint job itself. To help solve this issue and streamline the process, consider repurposing an old ketchup bottle to make touch-ups a breeze. After you paint your wall for the first time, pour a small amount of paint into a washed and dried ketchup bottle. Store this bottle in a cool, dry space. When you need a bit of paint to cover a chip or scuff, all you need to do is squeeze a small amount onto your brush.

4. Bird feeder

If you have items lying around that you want to repurpose, you can guarantee that someone has found a way to turn it into a bird feeder, and ketchup bottles are no exception. To make this feeder yourself, you'll need a ketchup bottle, string, a plastic drip tray, and a craft knife. Cut a hole in the plastic tray, a few holes around the bottom of the ketchup bottle, and two holes at the top for the string. Place the drip tray over the opening to the ketchup bottle, then screw on the cap to secure it. After adding on the string, your feeder is ready to fill.

5. Oil dispenser

It can be difficult to pour an exact measurement of oil directly from the bottle without making a mess. For that reason, you'll notice that many professional chefs keep their oil in a plastic squeeze bottle. These bottles are typically bought new, but that doesn't mean you have to do the same. If you have an old ketchup bottle, you're already good to go. Wash it out and fill it with oil, then use it for measuring out oil in recipes, evenly dispersing oil in a pan, or seasoning your cast iron skillets. Thanks to the rubber stopper in the cap, the process should be completely mess-free.

6. Epoxy application

Resin art is one of the most popular — and most satisfying — creative projects out there, but when you're dealing with large amounts of liquid that don't easily wash away, things can get messy. To help cut back on those annoying drips and ensure you're able to measure out the exact amount of material you need, consider keeping your epoxy in ketchup bottles. Most epoxy comes with parts A and B, so make sure you keep these two formulas in separate ketchup bottles until you're ready to use them. When it's time, dispense a small amount from each ketchup bottle into a cup and enjoy the lack of mess.

7. Soap dispenser

While it might feel a bit strange to wash your hands using something you squeezed out of a ketchup bottle, these containers can actually work as a fantastic dispenser in a pinch. Most soap is ready to dispense straight out of the package, but if you purchased something in bulk, need to split a bottle between two different rooms, or can never seem to get the last drop of the soap out because you can't store the bottle upside down, this hack can come in handy. Make sure your ketchup bottle is completely washed out, remove the label, and fill it with your soap.

8. Makeshift water gun

Water gun fights are a great way to cool down and have some fun during the warmer months, but keeping these toys on hand only to use them a couple times throughout the year can lead to unnecessary clutter. If you're looking for a swap that allows you to repurpose something you already have at home, consider using a ketchup bottle. They might be a different shape than the water guns you're used to, but they can still be used to spray your opponents from a fairly impressive distance.

9. Homemade sauce storage

Making your own sauces, whether you're whipping up a salad dressing or even making your own ketchup, can help you save money, allow you to experiment with new flavors, and give you the opportunity to learn more about what goes into your favorite condiments. A lot of the time, however, storing and using these homemade sauces is significantly less convenient. To bypass this issue, consider refilling your old ketchup bottles with your homemade sauce of choice. This way, you'll have a storage method that ensures your sauce will stay fresh and easy to use, whether you're dipping fries into it or topping off a salad.

10. Wood glue dispenser

If you do a lot of woodworking projects, it can be beneficial to buy your wood glue in bulk to help you save money. While this approach is more convenient for multiple reasons, it can also make the process of actually applying the glue more challenging, as a large, heavy jug of wood glue is difficult to lift and precisely pour. To make the process much easier on yourself, pour the product into an empty ketchup bottle. The design of these bottles allows you to squeeze a small amount of glue only where you need it and helps prevent sticky messes and drips.

11. Dry goods storage

Dry goods like rice, beans, and lentils are great to keep on hand for quick meals, but they can take up a ton of pantry space if left in their original packaging. To help cut down on this wasted space, consider storing them in repurposed ketchup bottles with their labels removed. These bottles are narrow, so they don't take up much room. They're also clear, so you can see exactly how much of each ingredient you have left. Finally, their caps screw on and click closed, so your risk of spilling is much lower than if you were to keep your items in their original bag.

12. Decorative vase

Plenty of different items can be repurposed into vases, and ketchup bottles, especially the older ones made of glass, are no exception. These bottles are already meant to hold liquid, so you won't have to worry about leaks. Further, their simple design means they're easy to transform into something that fits your personal style with the addition of some paint, contact paper, or even rhinestones. Remove the cap and leave the bottle as-is if you just need a vase to hold one or two stems, or cut around the top of a plastic bottle to create a wider mouth that will be able to hold more flowers.

13. Travel-sized laundry detergent

Doing laundry while you're on vacation might not be your idea of a good time, but if you have access to a washer, it can seriously cut down on the amount of clothes you have to pack and the work you have to do once you return home. However, figuring out how to bring your detergent without it spilling or taking up tons of room can be a challenge. Luckily, you don't have to lug around a massive jug of detergent. Instead, put some in an empty ketchup bottle. You can squirt it directly into the machine or into a measuring cup, no messy pouring necessary.