Your water bottle may be host to bacteria, buildup, and even mold. With so many types of reusable water bottles available, it can be hard to know how to clean them. Follow our handy guide to learn how.
Experts say you really should wash your water bottle after every use. According to researchers at Treadmill Reviews, athletes' water bottles, on average, host 313,499 colony-forming units (CFU) per square centimeter. For comparison, the average pet toy has just 2,937 CFU per square centimeter. That's a lot of germs. Plus, we know any warm, damp place is a breeding ground for mold growth. To make sure you're drinking from a safe, clean vessel, check out our water bottle cleaning tips below.
How often should you wash your water bottle?
It’s important to clean your water bottle thoroughly once a day to keep microbial growth to a minimum and ensure the water you’re drinking is healthy, fresh and tasty. Their frequency of use contributes to how often you should wash reusable water bottles. If you’re sipping a bottle consistently throughout the day, you may want to wash it more frequently.
How do you disinfect a water bottle to clean it?
Disinfecting a water bottle depends on the material it’s made of and if it contains special or electrical components common with smart water bottles. If it’s made of durable tempered glass or metal, add a splash of dish soap and very hot water and let it sit for a few minutes to break up grime before using a bottle brush. Silicone and metal straws are disinfected by boiling them, however plastic straws and materials shouldn’t be exposed to water at or near boiling temperature.
Plastic and silicone bottles are disinfected by filling them with warm water and adding a few drops of dish soap and a teaspoon of bleach (or equal parts baking soda diluted in vinegar) to kill bacteria and viruses. Not only is this method easy and inexpensive, it works on every reusable water bottle type and style. If you prefer to forgo bleach, consider using water bottle disinfecting tablets once per week as an alternative. No matter the method, it’s extra important to rinse reusable water bottles thoroughly after disinfecting them.
What do you need to clean a water bottle?
Fragrance-free dish soap. Using unscented dish soap is especially important for plastic, silicone and other synthetic-material water bottles, because they absorb odors and flavors more than glass or metal.
Bottle brush. A high-quality bottle brush with sturdy, durable bristles goes a long way. It reaches the deepest and narrowest parts of the water bottle, ridding them of debris, buildup and microbial growth.
Straw cleaning brushes. Reusable straws require deep cleaning too! Straw cleaning brushes prolong the lifespan of metal and synthetic reusable straws, thanks to tiny bristles that clean every inch—and they’re a breeze to use.
Bottle disinfecting tablets. An effortless disinfecting method is a bottle disinfecting tablet. Simply drop it into a filled water bottle, wait for it to dissolve and thoroughly rinse it.
At-home ingredients. Adding equal parts baking soda and white vinegar is a powerful DIY way to give bacteria and viruses the boot from your bottle, or you can rinse with heavily diluted bleach. If you choose the latter, the standard formula is a teaspoon of bleach for every 16 ounces of water.
How to clean a water bottle
- For daily cleaning: Wash your reusable water bottle at least once per day. Fill the bottle with warm water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Using the bottle brush, scrub the walls and bottom of the bottle. Be sure to clean not just the inside, but also the lip of the bottle. Rinse thoroughly.
- Because bacteria thrives in a moist environment, it's a good idea to dry the bottle with a paper towel or a clean dish towel (or you'll risk spreading fresh bacteria onto the clean water bottle). If you prefer to let the bottle air-dry, just be sure to leave the cap off, or else the trapped moisture will create an ideal environment for germs.
- If your water bottle is dishwasher-safe (check the label for care instructions), place it on the top rack of the dishwasher and choose the hottest water setting.
- For thorough cleanings: If your water bottle has a funky smell or you've neglected it for a little too long, it's time for a deeper cleaning. Add one teaspoon of bleach to the bottle, then fill it with cool water. Let sit overnight, then rinse thoroughly before following the drying instructions above.
- If you prefer not to use bleach, fill the bottle halfway with vinegar, then add cool water. Let the mixture sit overnight, before rinsing thoroughly or running through the dishwasher.
- For a deep clean, no scrubbing required, use these water bottle cleaning tablets, which reviewers swear by for removing odor and grime.
- Don't forget the cap: Remember to also scrub the lid or cap of your water bottle with warm water and dishwashing liquid every day. If your bottle is made up of several parts, separate them before cleaning to make sure there isn't grime lurking in the crevices.
- Clean those reusable straws: If you're a fan of reusable straws, you'll definitely want to invest in a set of straw cleaners. Using a solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid, let the cleaners scrub away any gunk that may be inside each straw. Rinse with warm water, or if the straws are dishwasher-safe, run them through the machine in the cutlery basket.