Woman filling black water bottle from kitchen sink with produce in foreground
Squeaky Clean: Keeping Your Reusable Water Bottles in Top Shape

Reusable water bottles are one of those things that I find myself staring at sometimes and wondering, “How often do they really need a wash?” Life is busy, and I’ve got to prioritize. With five of us, the time it takes to clean them adds up.

My husband, on the other hand, asks, “Do you really need to scrub those things?” He suggests that if it’s just water, a little rinse and a proper dry should do.

I’m not a germaphobe by any means, but in an ideal world I would end up washing mine after every use. Perhaps that’s a little too often? But I suspected my husband’s approach wasn’t right either. I decided to check with the experts.

Here’s what I discovered, and what you need to know about keeping your reusable bottles clean and hygienic:

Many experts do, indeed, recommend washing water bottles daily. Many others, however, say you can go a few days between washings, but the important thing is to empty them and let them fully dry. More on this below. Of course, if you are putting a beverage other than water into the bottle, it will be necessary to clean it after each use.

The biggest issue with reusable water bottles is the potential to grow mold. This is why it is important to disassemble the bottle and allow it to dry completely every day. Using a bottle brush for hard to reach places, as well as a brush designed to clean straws if your bottle has a straw, is also advised. Use soapy water and rinse well before drying. 

Certain water bottles are dishwasher safe. Go ahead and pop yours in the dishwasher if so and it’s a convenient method to keep your bottle clean.

Make sure to wash the mouthpiece or spout with soapy water after each use, which is especially important if you’ve been sick. 

Your bottle will need a deeper clean if you have gunk build up. Take apart the bottle and soak it and all the parts in equal parts distilled white vinegar and water for at least thirty minutes. Rinse clean and allow to dry completely. 

Finally, if you are finding that your bottle is harboring slim or mold that you just can’t get clean, or its parts have started to warp or deteriorate, it’s time to toss it out and replace the bottle.

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