Q&A: How Often Should I Wash My Reusable Water Bottle?

Keep your bottle clean with expert tips.

Photo: Blue water bottle laying on green grass

Q: How Often Should I Wash My Reusable Water Bottle?

A: Rinse your bottle thoroughly with hot, soapy water every day, says Sally Bloomfield, PhD, a UK-based microbiologist and chairwoman of The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene.

It’s just like a coffee cup, silverware, or kitchen countertop, agree colleagues Sharon Skipton, Water Quality Educator, and Nancy Urbanec, Food Safety and Sanitation Educator of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Southeast Research & Extension Center. Dirty water bottles can be a haven for bacteria. Not all germs cause disease, but sanitizing your reusable bottle should be as habitual as washing your hands. “Just rinsing with water before and after each use does not control the growth of microorganisms,” Urbanec says. “There has been some research with people who keep a [bacteria-laden] coffee cup on their desk and never realize it. It would be the same risk with a water bottle kept unwashed in a car, desk, or anywhere else.”

Cleaning Tips
Do this daily:
Wash your bottle with dish soap, hot water and a clean sponge. Rinse the bottle with warm water, drain thoroughly, and air-dry overnight. Clean the lid, too!

Do this weekly:
Rinse inside the bottle with a diluted bleach solution (using 1 teaspoon of bleach per quart [4 cups] of water). Or, simply run it through the dishwasher with regular dishwashing detergent. Dry the bottle in the dishwasher or air-dry overnight.

No sink around? Do this:
“If you are in an office setting and don’t have a sink, store the water bottle in a refrigerator at the end of the day so that germs won’t grow overnight,” Urbanec says.