How to Unclog the Nozzle of a Spray Bottle—and Prevent Future Blockages
Whether it's a container of window cleaner or an aerosol sunscreen can, few things are more frustrating than reaching for a spray bottle only to discover that nothing happens when you press the applicator. According to Melissa Poepping, founder of The Chemical Free Home, this often happens to products that are stored in the bathroom. "This is a room where a lot of dust accumulates from makeup, hairsprays, etc., combined with the humidity of the shower, it makes for a gunky combination of buildup," she says.
While it's possible your spray bottle has a clog, which is most commonly an issue for aerosol products like hairspray, there are a few other reasons the nozzle isn't emitting any product. Mary Gagliardi (also known as "Dr. Laundry"), in-house scientist and cleaning expert for Clorox, says it's possible the tube may have disconnected from the nozzle or it may be too short to reach the fluid at the bottom of the bottle.
Luckily, whatever is causing the blockage can likely be fixed with a few simple adjustments.
How to Unclog an Aerosol Can
You'll know an aerosol can is clogged if the pump is very hard to engage. "If you notice a lot of resistance or tension as you push down on the spray top, it's likely a clog," Poepping says. There are two methods you can try that might be successful at returning the pump to its original state.
Use Warm Water
It's possible that bits of the product have hardened onto the nozzle where the spray comes out, says Paul Halter, a sunscreen innovator with Goddess Garden. The best way to fix this is by running the nozzle under warm water until the caked on product is removed.
Use a Needle
Both Halter and Poepping recommend trying the warm water method first, but if that doesn't work there's another quick fix you can turn to: Inserting a needle into the release mechanism to physically loosen the clog. "This will often do the trick and get you back spraying happily," Halter says.
How to Unclog a Spray Bottle
Like aerosol cans, spray bottles—which commonly contain household cleaners—can also become clogged. You can fix the container using a similar method to the one outlined above.
Use Warm Water
If you think your spray bottle has a clog, Poepping says to take the top off and place the tubing (with the nozzle still attached) in a cup of hot water; pump the spray top until water sprays out with ease. Once you're satisfied with the mechanism, place the top back onto the bottle and continue using.
Check the Tube
While it's possible your spray bottle has a clog, Gagliardi says it's not very common with this type of dispenser. Instead, it's likely your spray bottle isn't spraying properly because the tube has disconnected from the nozzle. To check this, poepping says to push down on the sprayer. If you can press down with ease, but the product isn't coming out, it's likely a disconnect with the tube. Poepping says. "Reinserting the tube and then reattaching the nozzle should fix this problem," Gagliardi says.
How to Prevent Future Clogs
Of course, the best way to stop a clog in your spray bottle is to prevent a blockage in the first place.
Keep the Nozzle Clean
Halter recommends keeping the nozzle clean of built-up product, dirt, or other grit. After every use, he says to take a moment to make sure the sprayer is clean.
Keep the Cap On
Where and how you store your spray bottles can also dictate how frequently they get clogged. Poepping says to keep them in a cabinet with the cap or nozzle cover on. This will protect the containers from built up dust.
Opt for a Smaller Sized Bottle
One common reason spray bottles get clogged is because they aren't being used frequently enough, Poepping says. "For example, if you only style your hair weekly, and you don't use hairspray all that often, opt for a smaller version, or even a travel size version because the longer it sits unused, the more likely it is to have product buildup in the nozzle and clog," says.