What to Do When a Hair-Spray Bottle Won't Spray

You can soak a clogged hair-spray nozzle to make it work again.

Photo: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

So, you’ve finally got your hands on a bottle of your favorite hair spray, only to find that it won’t spray. Don’t toss it in the trash or waste gas driving it back to the store in a fit of rage. Deep breaths -- help is on the way.

The Sticky Problem

If your bottle fails to spray evenly or in the right direction, or if it simply isn’t spraying at all, resin usually is to blame. Resins, also known as polymers, are what give hair spray its hold. The more resins the product contains, the better the holding power. Some resins are tough enough to withstand heat and humidity, which makes them a must for girls that don’t want to sacrifice hold when they head outside into the elements. The bottom line -- the more powerful the resin, the more likely the dried resin residue is to clog the spray bottle’s nozzle.

Heat It Up

When resin residue rears its ugly head, fight back with some heat. Turn on the tap and let the water run hot. The hotter the water, the better the chances of breaking up the nozzle's crusty buildup. Hold the spray bottle's nozzle in the stream of hot water. Remove the nozzle from the hot water after a minute or two and wipe dry. If the bottle sprays perfectly, your job is done. If not, give the hot water method another shot.

Soak It

Sometimes hot water is not enough to do the trick. If this is the case, try an alcohol soak. Remove the nozzle from the hair-spray bottle and place it in a small cup. Add just enough isopropyl alcohol to the cup to cover the nozzle. Allow the nozzle to soak for two-to-three hours before removing it from the alcohol. After the wait time, wipe the nozzle clean and replace. Voila! You’re good to go.

What Not to Do

When you have had it up to here with clogged hair spray, your first inclination may be to grab something pointy -- like a toothpick -- and jam it into the hole. Even if you do manage to dislodge whatever is responsible for the clog, proper spraying is not a guarantee. Sticking a sharp object into the hole can ruin the hair-spray bottle’s spray mechanism, causing the bottle to operate unpredictably or worse yet, not function at all.

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