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How to Disinfect Reusable Water Bottles

You're Definitely Going to Want to Wash Your Water Bottle After Reading This

The beauty of the reusable water bottle is that it's just that — reusable. You can repeatedly head to the water cooler or faucet to fill it up, but when your bottle continually stays wet, it doesn't have the chance to get a proper cleaning. Since bacteria love a moist, dark environment, it's good to get in the habit of cleaning your bottle every night — or at least every few days. Here are some ways you can get rid of the germs and grime.

Throw it in the dishwasher: Some bottles are dishwasher safe, so check the bottom of your bottle or the brand's website to make sure. Kleen Kanteen Classic stainless-steel bottles and glass bottles like those from Lifefactory and bkr are dishwasher safe, as well as some products from Nalgene and Camelbak.

Wash it with warm soapy water: Pour out any leftover liquid, add a few drops of dishwashing soap and some warm water, screw on the top, and shake for a minute or so. It's smart to invest in a bottle brush like this so you can scrub deep inside your bottle, especially if it has a narrow mouth. Thoroughly clean the cap and straw as well and allow to air-dry overnight.


Use vinegar: This all-natural cleaner is great for killing certain germs and bacteria, but it isn't effective at killing everything such as the flu virus. If you're OK with that, use this method: after washing with soapy water, rinse well, and fill your bottle one fifth of the way with white vinegar. Fill the rest with water, let it stand overnight, and in the morning thoroughly rinse it out.

Use a weak bleach solution: If you're really worried about germs, nothing stands a chance against a little bleach. It's perfectly safe to drink from a bottle that's been cleaned with a weak bleach solution — it can even be used to sanitize baby toys and bottles. Make a bleach solution using one tablespoon of bleach per one quart of water. Fill your bottle, screw on the top, and allow to sit for two minutes. Pour out the solution and allow it to dry out completely.

Use water bottle cleansing tablets: Many companies make this type of product, including Camelbak ($12 for eight), or you can also get away with using effervescent denture cleaning tablets such as Efferdent. Just fill your bottle with water, drop the tablet in, and allow to dissolve and sit for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the product's directions). Then rinse and enjoy your clean bottle.

Marie16063366 Marie16063366 3 years

I really needed this post. There are lots of reusable bottles sitting around my kitchen sink right now!

HopefulHealer HopefulHealer 4 years
I love using vinegar and baking soda to clean my water bottles and camelbak. Often they get a funky taste and smell to them and letting them soak for a few hours with baking soda water then adding vinegar so it foams up takes care of the funkiness.
PeaceLoveNutrition PeaceLoveNutrition 5 years
This always grosses me out! \u00a0I'll have to try some of those...
angri angri 6 years
Jenny, that Rodale article you linked to does recommend vinegar for disinfecting though. And it brought up a really good point-- other cleaning products might have ammonia (glass cleaners often do) and that can combine with bleach for form a deadly gas. Vinegar is definitely the better option, even if a few germs survive to fight another day.
lostnwv lostnwv 6 years
I operated a sub shop inside a convenient store for 5 years. We used the bleach solution to sanitize every thing involved with the food prep. We were inspected by the health department about every 6 weeks. We always passed the inspections and I'm proud to say no one ever got food poisoning or any sickness from the food they ate at the Interstate Deli.
Jenny-Sugar Jenny-Sugar 6 years
This is a really mild bleach solution, the same recommended to disinfect baby toys and cutting boards so it's totally safe when used correctly. Using vinegar may not be as effective as bleach at killing germs.
greyarea greyarea 6 years
Wow, you suggested bleach (which can be bad if ingested) over vinegar? I'm stunned.
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