Reusable water bottles are a must-have for anyone who wants to stay hydrated (which, to be honest, should be everyone). On average, one person uses around 156 plastic bottles each year, according to the Earth Day Network, but when you invest in a reusable bottle, you can keep all those single-use plastics out of the landfill. That’s a huge win for the environment—and for your bank account!
If you already own and love a reusable water bottle, it’s important to take proper care of it. This means cleaning and disinfecting it regularly. Here’s what you need to know about how (and how often) to clean reusable water bottles:
Do You Really Need to Clean Your Water Bottle?
Most of us don’t think of water as particularly dirty, but consider this: Every time you take a sip from your water bottle, any germs that might be hanging out in and around your mouth can get washed back into its contents. And since bacteria love damp places, you run the risk of providing a home for nasty germs.
“Contaminated water bottles can transmit pretty much anything you can catch from casual contact with another person,” microbiologist Miryam Z. Wahrman, PhD, professor of biology at William Paterson University, explains to Reader’s Digest. “That’s not to say that every germ you encounter will make you sick…but being exposed needlessly to unknown microbes could increase your risk of disease.”
Bottom line? Yes, you do need to clean your water bottle—regularly!
How Often Should You Clean Your Water Bottle?
The next logical question is how often you should be washing out your reusable bottle. According to Wahrman, it’s best to clean reusable water bottles every day.
Make it part of your nightly routine to empty and wash out your family’s bottles, and be sure to give them a thorough cleaning before (and after) you let someone else use it.
4 Ways to Clean Reusable Water Bottles
What’s the best way to clean your water bottle? There are a few options you can choose from, depending on the type of water bottle you have, and how thoroughly you want it cleaned.
1. Put It in the Dishwasher
Arguably the easiest way to get your reusable water bottle squeaky clean is to put it in the dishwasher. However, check its packaging to make sure both bottle and lid are dishwasher-safe first. Otherwise, you run the risk of compromising the materials.
If you’ve determined it’s safe to go in the dishwasher, you’ll want to put it on the top rack and make sure it won’t interfere with the spray arms. If it has a cap or other small pieces, you can put them in the utensil basket or third rack.
2. Use Soap and Hot Water
Some water bottles have a narrow neck, which means the interior probably won’t get totally clean in the dishwasher. In this case, soap and water is probably the best way to clean your bottle.
Empty out any remaining water, then put a few drops of dishwashing soap in the bottle. Fill it halfway with warm water, then shake it up for a few minutes. Next, go in with a bottle brush to scrub the inner walls and a smaller brush if you have a straw or narrow mouthpiece. Rinse your water bottle out a few times with hot water to get rid of any lingering soap, then let it dry with the top off before using it again.
3. Disinfect with Vinegar
White vinegar is a natural disinfectant, as its acidic nature is useful for killing bacteria. If you want to give your water bottle a deep clean, wash it out with soap and water, then fill it up with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water. Shake it up, then let the solution sit overnight. Rinse out your bottle in the morning, then you’re good to go!
4. Use Water Bottle Cleaning Tablets
If your water bottle has seen better days, you can remove inner stains and odors with special cleaning tablets. Generally, all you have to do is fill your bottle with warm water and drop the tablet it. The cleaning solution will work its magic, and then the bottle is ready to rinse and dry. No scrubbing needed.
Our Favorite Reusable Water Bottles
In the market for a new water bottle? Here are some great options you can buy today:
Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle, $19.94 at Walmart
If you don’t have the best tap water at home, this water bottle has a built-in filter to remove impurities before you drink.
Contigo Chill Water Bottle, $15.95 at Walamrt
Need your water to be cold? This stainless steel water bottle keeps its contents cool for up to 28 hours!
S'ip by S'well, $14.99 on Amazon
This popular water bottle brand offers a variety of cute designs, from puppies to doughnuts to plain, pretty colors.
Cactacki Water Bottle with Time Marker, $19.99 on Amazon
If you need a reminder to drink up, this cool reusable water bottle includes time markers on the side, letting you know how much you should be drinking each day.
Simple Modern Summit Water Bottle, $11.99 at Walmart
Sometimes simplicity is the way to go. These sleek water bottles are simple and have a wide mouth that makes for easier cleaning.
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop.
Header image courtesy of Walmart