How to Clean a Reusable Water Bottle [5 Easy Steps]

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I think we're all agreed these days that reusable water bottles are awesome! They look cool, they save you money, and they help prevent the planet from choking under the weight of plastic pollution.

However, we do need to take the trouble to keep them clean. If you just rinse out your water bottle every now and then, I'm about to save you from making a potentially hazardous mistake!

Rinsing is not enough to prevent exposure to germs and bacteria, or even mold and mildew growth which can occur if the water bottle is not cleaned for a longer period of time.

None of us want to be drinking that, so like it or not, we need to know how to clean a reusable water bottle properly in order to keep our drinks safe and healthy.

Fortunately, it's extremely quick and easy to do. Today I'll show you 3 simple water bottle cleaning methods that work for any size, type, or material.

Cleaning Reusable Water Bottles in the Dishwasher

putting a reusable watsre bottle in the dishwasher

Many of the best eco-friendly water bottles are dishwasher-safe.

If you have one of them, simply put the bottle (and cap, if that is safe too) in your dishwasher and when you have a full load, run it on a hot water cycle.

That's exactly what I do with my own stainless steel water bottle and it's a simple part of my daily routine. My bottle comes out clean and ready to use again.

However, some plastic bottles and reusable straws are not dishwasher safe, and these could be damaged if you put them into your dishwasher.

So if you have a bottle that is not safe (or if you're not sure) then there are several ways to clean a water bottle by hand.

Manual Water Bottle Cleaning

It's simple enough to clean your reusable water bottle by hand, especially if you invest in a couple of simple tools to help.

This works for any stainless steel, glass, resin or plastic water bottle that is not suitable for your dishwasher.

What You Need

For narrow-necked bottles, you may not be able to get a standard dish scrubbing brush through the top to clean inside your bottle.

In this case, you need to use a bottle brush. These are available cheaply on Amazon.

If your water bottle has its own straw, you may also need a straw-cleaning brush to clean all the way along the inside. Straw-cleaning brushes are also available on Amazon.

Method for Cleaning Reusable Bottles Manually

  1. Fill your reusable water bottle with warm water and a squirt of liquid dish detergent. I recommend one of these eco-friendly dish soaps.
  2. Use the bottle brush to scrub around the inside, and also the lip or spout, and the thread where you screw on the cap. Don't forget the cap itself!
  3. When you've finished cleaning, rinse the bottle and cap with warm or hot water, then either towel or air dry.
  4. Leave the cap off if you are going to air dry, to allow the inside of the bottle and the screw threads to dry properly.
  5. Put your bottle brush and straw brush in the dishwasher afterward, these are dishwasher safe even if your actual water bottle isn't.

DIY Water Bottle Cleaning (Without Dish Soap)

If you do not like cleaning your water bottles with soapy water, there are other DIY cleaning solutions that you can use in place of regular dishwashing liquid.

Baking Soda & Hydrogen Peroxide

The first popular DIY Option involves a combination of food-grade hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

If you have a 1-liter water bottle, add a tablespoon of each ingredient, fill the rest of the bottle with water, leave it overnight, and then rinse thoroughly in the morning.

Increase or decrease the ingredients accordingly if you have a larger or smaller capacity.

White Vinegar

An even simpler homemade solution is to clean your reusable bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar.

Again, this can be left overnight and rinsed in the morning before use.

Monthly Deep Clean

The above methods will keep your bottle sparkling clean on a daily basis, and if you follow this routine from the start you may never need a deep clean.

However, if you have a bottle that hasn't been cleaned (or even used) for a while, or if you notice any mold or unusual smells developing, then deep cleaning is recommended to bring them back to full health (and to avoid damaging yours).

For monthly deep cleaning or to remove any stubborn odors, you can use Bottle Cleaning Tablets (available on Amazon)

All you need to do is put one tablet in your bottle, fill it up with water, give it a brief shake and then leave it overnight. You'll wake up to a sparkling clean bottle and any residual smell will be gone.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I wash my water bottle?

Ideally, if you use your reusable water bottle every day, then you should clean it every day. At the very least, you should clean your water bottle after use before you use it next.

Regular cleaning is the only way to reduce bacterial growth and keep the water clean and healthy.

So don't skimp on your cleaning routine, it's definitely worth a little effort!

Why Do I Need a Bottle Brush?

A bottle brush and straw cleaning brush are used to clean right to the bottom of the inside of your water bottle, and its attached straw if it has one.

Normal dish brushes are not suitable to clean a water bottle because they don't fit through the narrow openings.

The Final Word

Once you've made the decision to banish plastic waste from your life for good by investing in a funky new sustainable water bottle, it makes sense to look after it. After all, that's the only way it's truly going to be a bottle for life.

Many people make the mistake of believing that rinsing after use is enough - but it isn't. This can lead to bacteria buildup which can then get into your drinking water and turn something that is meant to be healthy into something that is not.

To avoid this, simply implement one of these simple regular cleaning tips. If you have an old bottle that hasn't been cleaned for a while, start with a deep clean and then just keep up the regular daily routine afterward.

If your bottle is brand new, start its life the right way and get into the habit of keeping it clean from the start. As you can see, it's quick and easy to do and in most cases, you can simply toss in into the dishwasher - what could be simpler?

Finally, if you haven't switched to reusable water bottles yet, then now you know how easy they are to care for, there should be nothing holding you back!

Check out our sustainable water bottle buyer's guide to find the right one for you.

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With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.
Stephanie Cole
With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.

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