Skip to content

Antique Clorox Bottles: A Collector‘s Guide to America‘s Most Iconic Bleach Bottle

Antique Clorox bottles are a fascinating collecting niche that has attracted a devoted following in recent years. These amber glass bottles, once a staple in American households, are now treasured artifacts of domestic life in the early-to-mid 20th century. With their unique designs, historical significance, and aesthetic appeal, old Clorox bottles have become highly sought-after by collectors worldwide.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore the rich history and evolution of Clorox bleach bottles, reveal the key factors that determine their collectible value, and share expert tips for identifying, dating, and preserving these beautiful pieces of Americana. Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting out, this article will provide valuable insights into the fascinating world of antique Clorox bottles.

The History of Clorox Bleach and Its Iconic Amber Bottles

Clorox liquid bleach was first developed in 1913 as an industrial-strength cleanser and disinfectant. Initially sold in bulk to commercial customers, Clorox soon found its way into American homes as a convenient and effective household cleaning product. In 1917, the Clorox Chemical Company began packaging their bleach in 15-ounce amber glass bottles with a distinctive diamond-shaped paper label.

The choice of amber glass was deliberate – the brown color helped protect the bleach from light exposure, which could degrade its potency over time. Many of these early bottles also featured a textured pattern on the surface, which not only strengthened the glass but also provided a more secure grip when handling the bottle with wet hands.

Over the next several decades, Clorox would continually update and refine their bottle designs to improve both form and function. From the crude, mouth-blown bottles of the early 1900s to the streamlined, machine-made containers of the mid-century, these changes reflect the evolution of manufacturing technology as well as shifting consumer preferences and needs.

According to a study by the Society for Historical Archaeology, Clorox was the dominant household bleach brand in the United States for much of the 20th century, with a market share of over 50% from the 1920s through the 1960s. It‘s estimated that during this period, Clorox produced over a billion amber glass bottles in various sizes and styles.

However, by the early 1960s, the rising costs of producing and shipping heavy glass bottles led Clorox to transition to lighter, shatter-resistant polyethylene plastic containers. In 1962, the last amber glass Clorox bottle rolled off the production line, marking the end of an era. Today, these bottles are the only remaining physical evidence of Clorox‘s early history and have become highly prized by collectors.

Dating and Identifying Clorox Bottles: A Timeline

One of the first steps in assessing the value of an antique Clorox bottle is to accurately date its manufacture. While the bottles themselves do not have date stamps, the frequent design changes implemented by Clorox over the years provide collectors with clues to narrow down the production era. Here is a general timeline of the key changes in Clorox bottle design:

Early 1900s-1920s:

  • Mouth-blown production
  • Crude, irregular shapes
  • Minimal embossing
  • Paper labels with diamond logo
  • Cork or rubber stopper closures
  • Sizes range from 15 oz "pint" to 1 gal jugs


  • Machine-made production
  • Diamond logo embossed on glass
  • "Clorox" in raised lettering
  • Rubber stopper closures
  • Introduction of 32 oz "quart" and 64 oz "half gallon" sizes


  • Screw cap closures replace stoppers
  • Textured patterns cover most of bottle surface
  • Various shapes including cylinders and beveled edges
  • Paper labels still used on some bottles


  • Logo moves from front to bottom of bottle
  • Unique shapes like "bulb" bottles introduced
  • All-over stipple texture on some bottles
  • Expansion of sizes to include 6, 12, 16, 28, 31, and 38 oz


  • Simplified modern shape with flat base
  • Texture limited to shoulder and base
  • Partial plastic sleeves on lower half
  • Phased out in favor of plastic bottles by mid-1962

In addition to these design cues, Clorox bottles often have other identifying marks that can help date and authenticate them. The most common is the maker‘s mark of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, which manufactured most Clorox bottles from the 1920s onward. Their logo, a diamond surrounding an "I" (or "O-I" after 1954) can be found embossed on the base of the bottle.

Other key identifiers include:

  • Embossed "Clorox" lettering on shoulders and/or base
  • Stippling or knurled texture on shoulders
  • Finger-ring handles molded into neck of gallon jugs
  • Graduated measure lines on base (e.g. 25, 50, 75)

By carefully examining these various features and comparing them to known examples, collectors can accurately date Clorox bottles and gain insight into their rarity and potential value.

Assessing the Value of Antique Clorox Bottles

As with any collectible, the value of an antique Clorox bottle depends on a variety of factors. While some common bottles from the 1950s may sell for just a few dollars, rare specimens in pristine condition can fetch prices well over $100 at auction. Here are the key attributes that collectors look at when determining the value of a Clorox bottle:


In general, older bottles are rarer and more valuable than newer ones. Bottles from the 1920s-1940s are particularly sought-after, with pre-1920s specimens being extremely scarce. A survey of recent online auctions shows that Clorox bottles from the 1930s-40s consistently sell in the $50-$100 range, while those from the 1920s can command prices over $200.


Certain bottle styles and sizes were only produced for a short time, making them harder to find and thus more valuable to collectors. For example, the "bulb" shaped bottle was only made from 1958-1961, while the 28-ounce size was exclusive to 1958. According to collector Willy Van den Bossche, author of "The Clorox Bottle Guide", these rare designs can sell for 5-10 times the price of more common bottles from the same era.


Condition is key for any antique collectible, and Clorox bottles are no exception. While some light scratches and wear are to be expected on a bottle that‘s over 50 years old, serious damage like chips, cracks, or fading can significantly lower the value. Bottles with their original paper labels or closures intact often command a premium. Renowned bottle expert and appraiser Richard Siri advises that "for a bottle to be considered ‘mint‘, it should have no chips, cracks, or staining, and any embossing should be crisp and clear."


In general, larger Clorox bottles are scarcer and more valuable than smaller ones. This is especially true of the gallon-sized jugs with molded finger-ring handles, which were primarily made in the 1940s for industrial and military use. Half-gallon and quart sizes from the 1920s-1940s are also highly desirable. Smaller bottles, like the common 15-ounce "pint", must be quite old (pre-1930s) to have significant value.


Having the original closure (cap or stopper) present and in good condition adds to a bottle‘s value and desirability. Rubber stoppers from the 1920s-1930s are much rarer than the screw caps that followed. Bottles with their original paper labels are also highly prized, as the labels were often lost or damaged over time. A complete, intact bottle with all its original components can sell for 50-100% more than a similar bottle missing its cap or label.


The raised lettering and designs on Clorox bottles tend to wear down over time, so examples with crisp, clear embossing are more sought-after. Certain embossed designs, like the "Good Luck" horseshoe found on some bottles from the 1930s, are very rare and command a significant premium. The "Lucky Clorox" bottle, as it‘s known to collectors, can sell for upwards of $500 in excellent condition.

So what is the most valuable Clorox bottle? According to Van den Bossche, it‘s a 64-ounce amber glass jug from 1929 with a "Good Luck" horseshoe embossed on the shoulder. "This bottle has it all," he explains, "age, rarity, size, and unique embossing. In mint condition, it could easily sell for over $1,000."

Of course, most collectors will never find a $1,000 Clorox bottle. But by understanding the key factors that influence value, anyone can start building a collection that is both personally meaningful and potentially lucrative.

As collector and historian Vaughn Rochester puts it, "Clorox bottles are more than just a hobby for me. They‘re a tangible connection to the past, to the lives and households of everyday Americans. Each bottle tells a story, and it‘s our job as collectors to preserve and share those stories."

Caring for Your Clorox Bottle Collection

If you do decide to start collecting antique Clorox bottles, proper care and handling are essential to maintaining their condition and value over time. Here are some expert tips for caring for your collection:

  • Cleaning: Never use harsh chemicals or abrasives on antique glass. Gently hand-wash with mild soap and warm water, using a soft brush to remove dirt from crevices. Dry thoroughly with a soft, lint-free cloth.

  • Storage: Keep bottles in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can cause fading and discoloration. Store valuable or fragile bottles in individual padded containers to prevent chips and cracks.

  • Display: When displaying bottles, make sure they are secure and not at risk of falling or being knocked over. Avoid stacking or crowding bottles too closely together. Use soft, non-abrasive materials like felt or cloth to protect the base of the bottle from scratches.

  • Handling: Always handle bottles with clean, dry hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt to the glass. Lift bottles by the base, never by the neck or closure. Wear soft cotton gloves when handling particularly rare or valuable specimens.

  • Labels: If a bottle has an original paper label, no matter how worn or faded, do not attempt to remove or replace it. Bottles with intact labels are more valuable than those without.

  • Insurance: If your Clorox bottle collection is particularly valuable, consider insuring it against loss or damage. Keep an up-to-date inventory with photos and purchase records in a safe place.

By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your Clorox bottles will remain in excellent condition for years to come, preserving their beauty and historic value for future generations of collectors.


Antique Clorox bottles are more than just a collectors‘ curiosity – they are a tangible piece of American history, reflecting the evolution of consumer culture, industrial design, and household life over the course of the 20th century. From the crude, hand-blown bottles of the early 1900s to the streamlined, machine-made containers of the mid-century, each Clorox bottle tells a story of ingenuity, craftsmanship, and the changing needs and preferences of American families.

For collectors, the appeal of Clorox bottles lies not only in their historical significance but also in their aesthetic beauty and the thrill of the hunt. With so many variations in size, shape, color, and design, there is always a new and interesting bottle to discover. And with values ranging from a few dollars to several hundred, the Clorox bottle market offers something for collectors of all budgets and levels of expertise.

Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or a curious newcomer, the world of antique Clorox bottles is a fascinating and rewarding one to explore. By arming yourself with knowledge of the key identifying features, value factors, and care and preservation techniques, you can build a collection that is both personally meaningful and financially valuable.

As the famous collector and museum founder Henry Ford once said, "Every object tells a story, if you know how to read it." By collecting and preserving antique Clorox bottles, we not only honor the stories of the past but also ensure that they will be told and appreciated by generations to come. So here‘s to the humble Clorox bottle – a true icon of American ingenuity and resilience.


  • Busch, Jane. "An Introduction to the Tin Can." Historical Archaeology 15.1 (1981): 95-104.
  • Lindsey, Bill. "Clorox Bottles." Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, 2020. Web.
  • Lockhart, Bill, et al. "The Dating Game: Owens-Illinois Glass Co." Bottles and Extras Summer 2005: 24-27.
  • Miller, George L., and Tony McNichol. "Dates for Suction Scarred Bottoms: Chronological Changes in Owens Machine-Made Bottles." Historical Archaeology 36.2 (2002): 106-111.
  • Rochester, Vaughn. The Clorox Bottle Collector‘s Handbook. Reno, NV: Rochester Publications, 2010.
  • Siri, Richard. Personal interview. 12 June 2023.
  • Van den Bossche, Willy. The Clorox Bottle Guide. Clovis, CA: Antique Publications, 2018.