When a flower vase holds flowers for any length of time, the stems and leaves under the water start to decay. When the flowers are removed, the remaining debris is full of bacteria. The vase should be rinsed and disinfected before it is used again. Disregarding this step can affect the longevity of the next bouquet placed in the vase.
Step 1 - Rinse Out Debris
Discard flowers. Using a generous amount of water, rinse out the vase and large debris.
Step 2 - Hot, Soapy Water
Add hot, soapy water and use a long-handled brush to clean the bottom and sides. Don't force your hand into a narrow-mouthed vase. You risk injury if your hand gets stuck and/or the vase breaks.
Step 3 - Disinfect the Vase
Fill the vase with a quart of warm water and add a teaspoon of bleach and a couple drops of dishwashing liquid. Swish this solution around in the vase, then allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before rinsing with clear water.
Add a capful of bleach and dissolve a sugar cube in the vase water before adding fresh flowers. The bleach keeps bacteria at bay and helps keep the water clear, while the sugar gives the flowers some lasting power.