Your water bottle is gross—here's how to clean it

Just because it only holds water doesn't mean it's clean.

Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar
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I bought my water bottle at least two years ago. (If you want to buy your own, check out our roundup of the best reusable water bottles.) It was a gift to myself that I purchased after having one of those tiny epiphanies that we, as human beings, have every once in a while. “If I had a water bottle with me all the time,” I thought, “I would definitely drink more water. As a fidgeting device, if nothing more.” Lo and behold, two years later, I’m still drinking more water and fidgeting endlessly with my water bottle.

One thing I haven’t done in the two intervening years is properly clean said water bottle. While I knew intellectually that a water bottle that had been in constant use for two years was probably totally disgusting, I finally decided to deal with its uncleanliness when I realized that sand from my beach visit a month prior was still lurking on the inside of the cover.

before
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

Yuck.

You may think, as I did, “Who cares how dirty my water bottle is? I’m the only one who uses it, and it's only water in there.” Nope. I’ve offered many a sip to my friends and loved ones, toted this water bottle all over the place, and, naturally, dropped it on the beach.

More bacteria lives on our reusable water bottles than in your average pet bowl

Also, it was reported last year that more bacteria lives on our reusable water bottles than is found on our pets’ bowls. So, yeah, let’s clean our water bottles.

How to clean a reusable water bottle:

  1. Disassemble your water as much as possible (including the top and lining)
  2. Scrub the lining with warm water and a bit of dish soap, then towel dry.
  3. Scrub the top with warm water and a bit of dish soap, then towel dry.
  4. Scrub the outside and mouth of the water bottle with warm water and a bit of dish soap, then towel dry.
  5. Using a cylindrical scrub brush, scrub the inside of the water bottle with warm water and bit of dish soap, then towel dry.
  6. Reassemble your water bottle.

For more details on each step, read on.

peel
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

1. Disassemble your water bottle as much as you can

Remove the rubber or fabric sleeve if possible. It took some effort for me to peel off the rubber sleeve surrounding my water bottle (and I doubtlessly looked like an idiot doing it), but eventually I got it off.

clean_lining
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

2. Scrub the lining with warm water and a bit of dish soap, then towel dry.

Put a few drops (a little goes a long way) of dishwasher detergent on a scrub brush. If your water bottle has a rubber lining, scrub it, inside and out, with the scrub brush, rinse it in warm water, then dry it with a dish towel. If your water bottle has a fabric liner, wash it according to the use and care instructions.

clean_top
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

3. Scrub the top with warm water and a bit of dish soap, then towel dry.

Repeat step 2 on the top of your water bottle. Make sure to scrub both the outside and the inside, since the outside is exposed to the elements, and the inside is exposed to your saliva.

clean_outside
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

4. Scrub the outside and mouth of the water bottle with warm water and a bit of dish soap, then towel dry.

Repeat step 2 on the outside and mouth of your water bottle. The outside of my water bottle had visible muck on it, thanks to dirt (and other stuff) getting trapped between the glass bottle and the rubber lining. Gross.

clean_inside
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

5. Using a cylindrical scrub brush, scrub the inside of the water bottle with warm water and bit of dish soap, then towel dry.

Make sure to buy a cylindrical scrub brush that, when squished down, will fit through the mouth of your water bottle. Put a couple of drops of dishwasher detergent on the scrub brush, add warm water, and squeeze it a few times to get some suds going.

clean_neck
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

Then, squeeze the scrub brush through the neck of the bottle and scrub the inside of both the body of the water bottle and the mouth of the water bottle. When you’re done, rinse the bottle and dry it.

after
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

6. Reassemble your water bottle.

Reassemble the water bottle, and feel smug for crossing something off of your “to-do” list.

If you want to just chuck the whole thing in the dishwasher and be done with it, feel free. However, be sure to check the use and care instructions for your water bottle. Non-glass water bottle pieces may prevent your water bottle from getting the full cleaning treatment.

For instance: a family member threw his water bottle into the dishwasher, rubber lining and all. We think the smell of the dishwasher detergent was burned into the rubber lining during the dishwasher cycle, and now that’s all he can smell when he goes to drink from his water bottle. Unsurprisingly, smelling liquid detergent can put someone off of drinking something.

If you’re trying to truly sanitize (or get rid of a smell in) your water bottle, you might need more than just detergent and water, but the instructions are basically the same: scrub as many of the nooks and crannies as you can.

Good luck, and may sand never get in your water bottle.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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