How to Fix a Spray Bottle That Won’t Spray – DIY Solutions

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

Oftentimes, the plastic spray bottles that come packaged with different household products can stop working the way they used to. You may think the only option is to throw it away, but rest assured that a little bit of finagling can get your spray bottle working like new again.

Your spray bottle may have stopped working due to a failed trigger, a failed pump mechanism, or it simply may just have a clogged nozzle. No matter the cause, the fix for each problem is easy and quick.

How a Spray Bottle Works

Even though it’s fairly small, a spray bottle actually has a somewhat complicated setup to its mechanism.

Behind the nozzle is a spring and a piston. These are controlled by the trigger. As the piston presses on the spring, it changes the volume inside the nozzle chamber. This will increase or decrease the pressure inside the nozzle chamber as well.

An increase in pressure by pulling the trigger forces the liquid out of the nozzle, then when you release the trigger, the pressure decreases. This causes more liquid to be drawn up the thin plastic tube inside the bottle.

Spray bottles that stop working usually have an issue with their trigger catching, their nozzle being clogged, or the piston & spring being broken or knocked out of place.

Issue 1: No Liquid Coming out of Nozzle

If you are pumping the trigger and nothing is coming out, the issue is with your nozzle. Sometimes it is just clogged and sometimes the liquid needs a little coaxing to repressurize correctly.

When it comes to how to unclog a spray bottle, it’s as simple as running the nozzle under warm water to heat up any dried product. You can also use a toothpick if you are able to see bits of the product.

To help the pump mechanism repressurize, pump the trigger 4 or 5 times. Then, give the entire bottle a squeeze on its sides. You should see liquid come out of the nozzle now and the bottle should work like normal.

Issue 2: Trigger Mechanism Not Working

If the trigger on your bottles sticks in the down position when you depress it or if it loosely hangs, then there is an issue with the plunger.

Some spray bottles have the plunger attached to the trigger, others don’t. Regardless, you would want to remove the entire nozzle from the bottle and take a close look at the trigger.

The most likely cause is the plunger becoming stuck when it gets depressed, causing your entire trigger to remain in the position or (if it’s not attached to the trigger) causing your trigger to loosely hang because it is not in contact with the plunger.

Pull the plunger out with a pair of tweezers and apply some silicone-based lubricant. It must be silicone based or else it will eat away at the plastic. Another temporary solution is to apply a small amount of dish soap.

Your plunger should slide in and out with ease now!

Issue 3: Pump Mechanism Not Working

You may notice a clicking sound when you pump the trigger or a trickle of liquid coming out instead of a fine mist. This usually indicates the plunger and the spring inside the pump mechanism are off-kilter or broken.

The spring and piston should be easily accessed by carefully removing the misting piece on the end of the nozzle. Some nozzles are attached to the trigger so the entire piece will need to be removed. Afterwards, tilt the nozzle forward and the spring and piston should fall out.

Examine them closely. If the plastic piston is cracked or broken, it needs to be replaced. While you can buy these at hardware stores, it usually costs the same to replace the entire sprayer.

If neither the spring nor piston looks damaged, gently stretch out the spring and insert both the spring and piston back into the nozzle. Make sure you line them up just right. Then replace the misting piece and try spraying again.

Issue 4: No Liquid Drawing Up

As you pump the trigger, you should notice tiny bubbles inside the plastic tube continuously drawing up liquid. If you’ve noticed that nothing is moving through the tube, you most likely have a small hole or tear in the tube itself.

If it is at the top of the bottom of the tube, you can simply cut that part off and insert it back into the spray mechanism. If you notice a tear near the middle, you can wrap the clear plastic tape around it or replace it with a similar-sized tube.

Final Thoughts

Although small, a spray bottle can have a few different issues within its moving pieces that prevent it from working correctly. But no matter what the issue is, the fix is usually always simple!

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About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

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