How Bad Is It If You Don’t Wash Your Reusable Water Bottle Every Day?

updated Dec 12, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Reusable water bottles are great for a lot of reasons. Not only do they ensure you always have drinking water on hand, they help protect the environment from single-use plastic bottle waste. 

But for as often as we drink from our reusable water bottles, are we actually washing them as often as we should? To find out, we called on Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President of Communications at The American Cleaning Institute and Leslie Reichert, aka The Green Cleaning Coach for help. Read ahead to hear what they had to say. 

How often should you wash your reusable water bottles?

Whether you want to hear it or not, our experts say you should be washing your reusable water bottle a lot more frequently than most of us are. “You need to wash your water bottles after every use,” Sansori says, “or daily if you refill throughout the day. It may only hold water, but bacteria breeds in damp, dark environments like the inside of the bottle.”

What happens when you go too long without washing your reusable water bottle?

“Germs will grow on your reusable water bottles after each and every use,” Reichert says. “Combined with the fact that mold and mildew thrive in moist, dark areas — let’s just say this is not a container you would want to drink anything out of.” 

Does the material the bottle is made of make a difference?

Whether it’s composed of stainless steel, thick plastic, or aluminum, our experts say you still have to wash your reusable water bottle after every single use. “Unfortunately, germs don’t care about what materials the bottles are made from.” 

Does size of bottle make a difference?

According to Reichert, the size of your reusable water bottle has no impact on how often you should wash it. “No matter what the size of your bottle is, germs, mold and mildew will start to grow after each use if not washed with hot water and eco-friendly dish soap,” she says. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

Not sure what you should be cleaning your reusable bottle with everyday? “You can clean your water bottle with eco-friendly dish soap and a good bottle brush to get into the nooks and crannies,” Reichert says. “Rinse with very hot water and air dry.” 

Take your water bottle apart as much as you can. Unscrew the lid, pull out the straw, remove the rubber gasket, whatever looks like it can come off (and like you can put it back together) should come off.

Fill your water bottle with hot water and a bit of dish soap. Set the extra pieces (like the lid, straw, etc.) in a bowl of hot, soapy water to soak.

Read more: How To Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Scrub the inside of the water bottle with a bottle brush until it looks and smells clean. Rinse it out.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Dip the bottle brush into soapy water and use it to scrub the other pieces and any nooks and crannies like the rim of the bottle.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Use a straw brush or pipe cleaner to get inside the straw, spout, and any vent holes or smaller spots.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Rinse off all the pieces and dry them. Do not reassemble your bottle until all the pieces are dry, or else the bottle could get mildewy all over again and your efforts will have been for nothing.

If this seems like a lot of work, you can try a shortcut like Bottle Bright tablets, which work like denture tablets — drop one into a warm bottle full of water, then let the fizz do the work of de-germing your bottle in around 15 hands-off minutes.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: How Bad is It If You Don’t Wash Your Reusable Water Bottle Daily?