Sustainability made simple

This is How to Clean Your Water Bottle & How Often

How to be more sustainable tap water
Photo: Utopia

Because germs and bacteria can grow quickly anywhere there is moisture, cleaning your reusable water bottle regularly is a must. Here are some tips on how to clean your water bottle effectively.

Reusable water bottles made of glass, plastic or stainless steel are more durable and environmentally friendly than disposable plastic bottles. But if you aren’t cleaning your bottle regularly, bacteria will quickly start to multiply and could easily make you sick — which is why, if you own one, you should know how to clean your water bottle properly.

A study done by examined twelve reusable plastic bottles used by athletes to see just how dirty drinking bottles tend to be, and the results were a bit disturbing. More than 300,000 colony-forming units were found per square centimeter. That means, “to put it bluntly, drinking from the average refillable bottle can be many times worse than licking your dog’s toy.” 

Biofilm and Harmful Bacteria

Some of the bacteria that can be found in your water bottle come from your own body and are harmless. But not all of them. On the twelve plastic bottles examined, over 60 percent of the bacteria found were potentially harmful. If you forget to clean your water bottle for a few days in a row, the germs will multiply and start to form a slimy layer of gunk called biofilm. Yum. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Water Bottle?

reusable water bottle
Harmful bacteria can quickly build up on your reusable drinking bottle. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – 926663)

The formula is simple: when you use your water bottle, clean your water bottle. If you use it every day, then you need to clean your bottle every day. And no, unfortunately for us lazy people, giving it a quick rinse with hot water is not enough. Hot water alone will not kill all the bacteria that has built up during the day in the small crevices of your bottle. If you want your water bottle to be germ-free, you’ll have to do a proper cleaning job. 

How To Clean Your Water Bottle: Tips

cleaning water bottle
Wash your water bottle thoroughly after each use to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – KaboomPics)
  1. When cleaning your water bottle, you must use soap. If you’re looking for a fun project, try making your own homemade dish soap.
  2. Use a scrub brush to scour the grooves around the bottle’s opening.  
  3. Don’t forget the lid! Whether you have a water bottle with a squeeze opening, screw-top, slide-top or straw top, the lid is likely to be the place where the most bacteria builds up.
  4. Check to see if your water bottle is dishwasher safe: many reusable water bottles are, which could save you some time. Running a whole dishwasher cycle just for your water bottle isn’t environmentally responsible, but if you’ve already got it loaded up with dirty dishes, throw your bottle and lid in, too. 
  5. If your water bottle is still funky after you cleaned it, try adding a teaspoon of baking powder and warm water to it and let it soak for a few hours. Wash again thoroughly afterward. 
  6. If nothing else works, fill your bottle with white vinegar and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, wash it out well, and let the bottle air out for a few minutes until the smell of vinegar disappears. 
  7. No matter whether you rinse the water bottle, disinfect it or clean it in the dishwasher: it’s important to let it dry well afterward. Bacteria feel particularly comfortable on damp surfaces. 
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