If you’ve made the switch from disposable water bottles to a reusable one, give yourself a pat on the back! U.S. landfills are overflowing with two million tons of discarded water bottles, so getting one you can refill again and again is a huge deal. But while reusable water bottles are handy and much better for the environment, they aren’t always the easiest things to clean. And cleaning them is important because bacteria love dark, moist areas and your water bottle is their ideal home if they are not disinfected correctly every few days. Below we answer a few of the most common questions regarding cleaning water bottles so that you can sip without stress.
How can I properly clean my hard plastic, glass or stainless steel water bottle?
No matter what kind of reusable water bottle you have, they all need to be cleaned. There are several ways to do so, including:
- Warm water and soap – This is just about the simplest way to wash your bottle. Add a few drops of dish soap and warm water to your water bottle, screw on the top and shake! Rinse the bottle out and leave open to air dry overnight.
- Dishwasher – Before throwing your bottle in the dishwasher, check the bottle for the dishwasher safe symbol. Most products are safe to place in the dishwasher but always double check so you don’t ruin your bottle. Make sure all pieces of the water bottle (top, straw, body) get cleaned.
- Vinegar – If your bottle is in need of a deeper clean after washing with soap and water, fill it 1/5 of the way with white vinegar and the rest with water. Let this mixture sit overnight and thoroughly rinse with water in the morning.
What if my plastic water bottle is discolored and smelly?
A reusable plastic water bottle can develop a smell or slight discoloration over time if it isn’t properly cleaned after use. It can happen faster if the water bottle is stored in a wet area or kept sealed for a long period of time with water left in it. To stop this from happening, rinse your water bottle out after every use and let it air dry with the top off. If your bottle has already developed a smell, REI recommends that you add a teaspoon of bleach and a teaspoon of baking soda to the bottle and fill it with water. Let it sit overnight and rinse it out completely the next day, then let the bottle air dry.
Why can’t I reuse disposable plastic water bottles?
The disposable plastic water bottles that you get at a convenience store or out of a vending machine aren’t meant to be used more than once. Repeated washings of disposable water bottles can cause a physical breakdown of the plastic, posing a health risk to users.
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