Helpful Hacks

PSA: Your Water Bottle Is Grosser Than You Think—Here’s How to Clean It


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Source: Élevae Visuals
Source: Élevae Visuals

You know it, you love it, you bring it with you everywhere—I’m talking about your emotional support water bottle. Whether you’re team Stanley, Owala, or Hydro Flask (or whatever the “it” hydration jug of the moment is), your water bottle plays an important role in your day-to-day. It keeps you hydrated, which in turn gives you glowing skin, flushes toxins from your body, and aids in digestion. It’s basically your self-care secret weapon.

For these reasons and more, I think we can all agree we appreciate our water bottles. What we don’t appreciate, however? Bacteria. And it turns out there might be tons of it lurking inside your water bottle. A 2022 study found an average of 20.8 million colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria in reusable water bottles, while those with a spout or screw top had even more than bottles with a straw. For comparison, a toilet seat has an average of 515 CFUs. And we’re not just talking about a few harmless germs here—the types of bacteria found in the water bottles tested can lead to gastrointestinal issues and antibiotic-resistant infections. Long story short, your water bottle is not as clean as you may think.

So, what’s a girl to do? Read on for tips and tricks to help keep your water bottle clean and sanitary.

How Often You Should Clean Your Water Bottle

If you haven’t been cleaning your water bottle routinely, it’s time to start. While it may seem like overkill to wash it every day, that’s exactly what Dr. Yuriko Fukuta, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, recommends. This is the case for all types of water bottles—metal, glass, and plastic—but it’s especially important for plastic water bottles because they can form small cracks where bacteria can hide, Fukuta explained.

It’s also important to clean your water bottle after each use if you’re putting anything other than water in it. According to Dr. Fukuta, beverages that contain sugar (such as sports drinks or juices) accelerate the growth of germs and bacteria.

How to Clean a Water Bottle

The best way to clean a water bottle depends on what it’s made of and how gross it is. Here are a few methods to try:

Wash it with soap and water

For daily water bottle cleanings, tried-and-true soap and water will do the trick. Simply fill your water bottle with warm water and add liquid dishwashing soap, then put the cap back on and shake vigorously. For a deeper clean, you’ll want to scrub the inside with a bottle brush, paying special attention to the bottom, lip, and cap—all the places bacteria love to hide. Thoroughly rinse the bottle and cap, then dry everything with a clean towel.

Run it through the dishwasher

If you already run the dishwasher about once a day, this method is the easiest way to work regular water bottle cleanings into your routine. Just be sure to check your bottle’s care instructions, as some materials might not stand up well to the high heat of the dishwasher. If your bottle is dishwasher-safe, disassemble it and place all the pieces on the top rack. Once the cycle is done, dry all the components with a clean cloth before putting everything back together.

Give it a vinegar soak

If it’s been a while since your last water bottle cleaning (guilty), or you just want to give it a little extra TLC, this method is ideal for a deep cleaning. Not only is it non-toxic, but vinegar is also effective at killing germs thanks to the acetic acid it contains—it can even help you get rid of mold in a water bottle. To clean your water bottle using this method, fill the bottle halfway with vinegar, then fill it the rest of the way with water and let it sit overnight. Rinse it out the next morning using clean water, or run it through the dishwasher and dry thoroughly.

Don’t forget the straw

Regardless of which method you choose to clean your water bottle, don’t forget to clean the straw, too. Adding it to the dishwasher or investing in a straw cleaning brush will take care of any gunk that’s built up on the inside.

Best Water Bottle Cleaning Tools

Water Bottle Cleaning Set
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Lid Gap Cleaning Brush Set
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Drinking Straw Cleaning Brushes
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