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How to Clean a Water Bottle (Because Bacteria Totally Thrives in There)
Karl Tapales/gett images

Aside from the fact that plastic water bottles can introduce harmful toxins (like BPA) to your body, their widespread use also produces a tremendous amount of pollution. As such, it’s safe to say that investing in a reusable water bottle is one of the best ways to reduce your footprint and do right by both the planet and your body. Still, should you ever take a sip from your reusable water bottle and find that your beverage tastes more funky than fresh, the choice might feel like slightly less of a triumph. Fear not: Our handy guide for how to clean a water bottle will keep your conscience and your on-the-go drink container clear.

Why You Should Wash Your Reusable Water Bottle

If you’ve got an insulated water bottle that you fill with coffee in the a.m. and water for your afternoon run, we don’t need to tell you why you should wash your water bottle in between uses. But if you use your trusty canteen exclusively for water, you might be wondering if frequent washing is really necessary. Yes, friends, it is.  Per the experts at the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), “Water bottles provide a damp, often dark environment where bacteria, mold or mildew can thrive.” In particular, the parts of that trusty canteen that regularly come into contact with your mouth are major bacteria magnets, and that trend of fruit-infused water can also be problematic because it “introduces even more organic material to [your water bottle].” There’s no need to chuck your neglected water bottle, though (or forgo the slice of lemon, for that matter)—just use one of the following methods to give your water bottle a deep clean, and then repeat the process on the regular. (Think, after every use.)

4 Ways to Wash a Reusable Water Bottle

1. The Dishwasher

If your water bottle is dishwasher-safe, lucky you. Simply break it down into its component parts (if applicable) and toss it in the dishwasher. It will emerge squeaky clean and thoroughly sanitized. Easy peasy.

2. Soap and Water

Not sure whether your water bottle will hold up okay in the dishwasher? The cleaning pros at the ACI say it’s best not to take any chances. Fortunately, that’s no big deal, since it’s a cinch to wash a water bottle by hand. To get your water bottle clean the good ol’ fashioned way, simply use a bottle brush to scrub it with dish soap and hot water (the hotter, the better), taking extra care to reach all the nooks and crannies with the bristles of the brush. If your water bottle has a straw feature, invest in a set of small cleaning brushes like these to thoroughly clean the mouthpiece and straw.

3. Baking Soda

While a thorough washing with soap and water will likely leave your water bottle fresh and clean, there are some instances in which stubborn odors might stick around. Good news: You can banish the ghost of last week’s coffee from your water bottle with a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (i.e., baking soda). To clean and deodorize your water bottle with baking soda, the stainless steel water bottle purveyors at Greens Steel say that all you need to do is add one teaspoon of the stuff to your bottle and fill it up the rest of the way with hot water. Stir to dissolve the baking soda and let the water bottle sit overnight. When the soaking is complete, give your water bottle a good rinse and it will be ready for use.

4. Vinegar

Vinegar is another natural cleaning product that you likely have hanging around your kitchen—and it can do a bang-up job of getting your water bottle clean. Per the folks at Greens Steel, this method simply involves filling your water bottle with equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Then, shake the water bottle and swish the solution around before leaving it for an overnight soak—a quick rinse the next morning and your water bottle will be good as new.

RELATED: The Best Reusable Water Bottles, from $8 to $95

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