How To Clean A Water Bottle

A water bottle is one of the most important pieces of running gear.

Whether you typically run shorter or longer distances, it’s a good idea to carry a water bottle (or some other kind of hydration bladder) to keep you hydrated since dehydration can cause serious health issues. 

How To Clean A Water Bottle

Another thing that can be incredibly damaging to your health, however, is a dirty water bottle.

Water bottles that have not been cleaned properly can harbor dangerous bacteria and even grow mold in hidden places, potentially leading to illness. 

If you want your water bottle to continue to benefit your health and not harm it, you will need to learn how to clean it effectively. 

This is a guide to cleaning your reusable water bottle, either by hand or in the dishwasher, for sparkling clean results. 

The Dangers Of Dirty Water Bottles 

Many unsuspecting water bottle owners might wonder how much danger a water bottle could possibly present in terms of bacteria. After all, it only contains water, right?

The thing is, water bottles regularly come into contact with two parts of the human body that harbor an alarming amount of bacteria: the hands and the mouth. 

In fact, studies have shown that around 83% of reusable plastic water bottles are contaminated with bacteria.

Some of the most common bacteria found in and on water bottles include staphylococcus aureus and e. coli.

These germs in high quantities have the potential to make you quite sick, especially if you have a weaker immune system. 

The best way to prevent the accumulation of dangerous bacteria inside your water bottle is to wash it thoroughly after every single use. You can do this by hand or in the dishwasher. 

Cleaning A Water Bottle By Hand 

If you don’t have a dishwasher, you will need to clean your water bottle by hand after every use.

This might seem like a demanding task, but when you use the right tools for the job, it’s actually very easy and doesn’t take too long. 

Cleaning a Water Bottle by Hand 

Many water bottles are too narrow to comfortably fit your hand into, which makes cleaning difficult.

Even if the opening of your water bottle is large enough to insert your hand, there are often tiny crevices that require precision cleaning, such as in the ridges where the cap screws onto the top of the bottle. 

Therefore, you’re going to want to invest in a bottle brush. You can find several highly-rated bottle brushes at Amazon, like this silicone bottle brush from Kitchiny.

You could also buy packs of microfiber cleaning brushes if you have multiple water bottles that need cleaning on a regular basis. 

Silicone brushes have the benefit of being more durable but microfiber brushes can work up a better lather of soap. 

All you need to do once you’ve got your bottle brush is fill your bottle with hot water and soap and get scrubbing! Use your regular dish soap to create a mixture of soapy water.

You might see some sources recommending that you use a teaspoon of bleach to clean your water bottle, but washing your water bottle with soap is much safer than harsh chemicals and very effective at getting rid of nasty bacteria.

In a pinch, you can mix food-grade hydrogen peroxide with some baking soda to create a cleaning solution.

White vinegar is also sometimes recommended if your water bottle has started to grow mold, although if your water bottle is made of a porous material like plastic, it’s best to throw it out altogether since some spores may have made their way into the plastic.

Remember to get into all the smaller crevices in your bottle so that no bacteria is able to hide and multiply. 

We also recommend using some cleaning tablets inside your water bottle on a monthly basis if you can’t use the dishwasher.

Just allow these tablets to dissolve in warm water, and they will clean the inside of your bottle just like dishwasher tablets would. 

Once you’ve finished washing your water bottle, give it a thorough rinse to ensure that no soap or tablet residue is left. Then, simply let the bottle air dry.

If you need to use it right away, you can dry it with a cloth, but make sure this is a freshly washed, clean towel so that no bacteria is transferred back to the bottle.

Generally, we would recommend air drying if you’re not in a rush just so that you don’t get cloth fibers inside your water bottle, but it’s up to you. 

Don’t forget to clean your bottle brush(es), too! Even though they have been in contact with soap and hot water, they may also be harboring some bacteria from your water bottle.

If they are dishwasher-safe, you can put them in the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can clean the brushes with a combination of water and soap.

Cleaning A Water Bottle In The Dishwasher 

If you don’t feel that you have time to dedicate to washing your bottle by hand after each use, or you simply feel more comfortable with the level of cleanliness provided by a dishwasher, you can also use this machine to clean your water bottle. 

Before you do so, please make sure that your water bottle is safe for dishwasher use. BPA plastic bottles, for example, have been known to melt under high temperatures inside dishwashers.

You should also verify whether the bottle is designed to go on the top or bottom shelf. 

Final Thoughts 

Since the main reason to drink water throughout the day, and especially during exercise, is to maintain your health, it’s important that the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of your bottle does not compromise this. 

Clean your water bottle after every use, either by hand using hot water and soap or in the dishwasher.

If cleaning by hand, you can enhance your bottle washing routine with some fizzy cleaning tablets once per month. 

Make sure to get any soap residue out of your bottle by rinsing before you use it again, and use a clean cloth to dry if you don’t have time to wait for it to air dry.

Megan Rinzel
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