How to Spot and Destroy Mold in Your Water Bottle Before It's Too Late

Staying hydrated is essential to our overall health — it keeps our bodies in top shape. Reusable water bottles are a popular way to stay hydrated while saving the environment from tons of plastic water bottles littering the earth. However, if not taken care of properly, these water bottles can start to smell from mold and bacteria growth. Can using the same water bottle cause health problems? Learn what can happen if you do not clean your reusable water bottles appropriately.


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Health risks of a dirty bottle: how mold can affect your health

Cleaning your water bottle: a step-by-step guide

Why clean water matters: the importance of a clean water bottle


Why it is important to drink from a clean water bottle

A study performed on different reusable water bottles showed that they contained, on average, 20,800,000 bacteria colony-forming units (CFUs) of gram-negative rods. The study consisted of 1,000 American participants and tested their water bottles and their cleaning habits with the bottle. This study goes on to compare this bacteria on a reusable water bottle to household objects, such as toilets. The water bottle had 40,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

The bacteria that grow on the water bottle aren’t necessarily going to make you sick, but there is a possibility that illness-causing germs can grow on it. Most bacterial and mold growth occurs on the mouthpiece of the water bottle. In the lid area, there are a lot of small crevices and grooves that may be harder to clean, leading to this growth. When touching a water bottle's lid area, you have the risk of transferring germs from your hands to your drinking water that can build up and cause you to become ill if you do not clean your water bottle at least daily.

Cleaning your water bottle: a step-by-step guide

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You should clean out your water bottle daily and even more if you use anything outside of water in it or if you share the contents with other people. For a daily wash, follow these simple steps.

  1. Take off the lid of the water bottle and rinse out the inside and outside of both with warm water.
  2. Add dish soap to the lid and bottle and add warm water.
  3. Shake vigorously over the sink for at least 20–30 seconds.
  4. Empty contents and re-add soap and warm water.
  5. Scrub the inside and outside of the bottle with a clean scrubber.
  6. Scrub the inside and outside of the lid with a clean scrubber, making sure to clean all crevices and inspect for mold.
  7. Dry upside down on a dish rack.

For a deeper clean

If you use your water bottle every day or put other materials in it, you may need a deeper cleaning if areas develop mold or biofilm.

  1. Vinegar method. Distilled cleaning vinegar and water can be used in a 50/50 mixture. Let it sit overnight to dissolve any hard-to-reach areas and crevices that could be hiding mold. Then, clean as you would daily. Vinegar has disinfectant properties that can help get rid of mold and bacteria in your water bottle.
  2. Baking soda method. Baking soda can be added to your water bottle to help clean it as well. Take one teaspoon of baking soda and add it to your water bottle. Fill up the bottle the rest of the way with water. Shake well and ensure you clean all crevices with the mixture. Let it sit overnight, then rinse out very well.
  3. Chemical clean. There are specific cleaners that can be bought at the store and used to clean your water bottles. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer for details on how to clean. Often, they are a tablet or liquid placed in the water bottle and used with a bottle scrub brush and sometimes left overnight.

How often should you change your water bottle?

If you take good care of your reusable water bottle, you should be able to keep one for months, if not much longer. The different materials the bottle is made of may also vary the amount of time you can change out your water bottle.

  • A stainless steel water bottle may last 2–3 years.
  • A plastic polycarbonate bottle can last around 1–2 years.
  • A polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle lasts around 2 years.

How a dirty water bottle can affect your health

Biofilm is a growth of bacteria and fungi that sticks to the walls and crevices of the water bottle. This is the slime buildup you often see on the inside of your water bottle. People who have weakened immune systems or get sick easily may become ill quickly from drinking any contaminated water.

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Illness is more likely to occur if you share water bottles in your home or use them for other drinks, such as juice or sodas. Drinks with sugar content are more likely to have mold build up on them quickly, which could have a more harmful effect on the body. Drinking or eating items that contain mold can make you sick. It can cause food poisoning and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and headaches.

In conclusion, while reusable water bottles are a convenient and eco-friendly choice, they require regular care and maintenance to keep them mold-free. With the right knowledge and tools, you can ensure your water bottle stays clean and safe to use, protecting your health and the environment.

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