How To Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

We have a lot of water bottles in our house: Little purse-sized ones I carry everywhere, heftier ones that I stash in the car’s cup holder, and big ones my husband and I sit next to all day while we work. Plus, the kids have a few versions we rotate through, too! And while these generally don’t get as dirty as some of our other kitchenware when we use them just for water, and not while we (or especially the kids) are eating, they need to be washed periodically.

A certain kind of film builds up on the inside, debris accumulates along the rims, and the straws can get mildewy over time. Plus, if you ever use the water bottle to hold anything else, like coffee or juice, you know that those flavors really linger. Cleaning water bottles is tricky, though, because you don’t want them to forever smell of soap or vinegar, and it’s tough to hit every nook and cranny.

And so here you go: Here’s how to clean a reusable water bottle.

If this seems like something you don’t want to do every time you clean your water bottle, don’t worry — you don’t have to! Regular ol’ soap and water can get the job done most of the time. Just go through these steps whenever your bottle is starting to look especially rough.

How To Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

What You Need

  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Bottle brush
  • Straw brush or pipe cleaner


  1. Take the thing apart: 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.
  2. Make your cleaning solution: Make a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda to 1 quart of hot (but not boiling) water.
  3. Pour the solution into your bottle: Fill your water bottle with the mixture.
  4. Soak the other pieces: Set the extra pieces (like the lid, straw, etc.) in the remaining mixture. Let sit overnight.
  5. Make more cleaning solution: In the morning, make another batch of the warm baking soda mixture.
  6. Clean the bottle: Dump out the old mixture inside the bottle. Pour in a little bit of your warm cleanser, then scrub the inside of the water bottle with your bottle brush until it looks and smells clean. Rinse it out.
  7. Clean the pieces: Dip the bottle brush into the mixture and use it to scrub the other pieces and any nooks and crannies like the rim of the bottle.
  8. Clean the inside of the straw: Use the straw brush or pipe cleaner to get inside the straw, spout, and any vent holes or smaller spots.
  9. Rinse and dry: Rinse off all the pieces and dry them. Do not reassemble and stash in the cabinet until all the pieces are dry, or else the bottle could get mildew-y all over again and your efforts will have been for nothing.