You bought a reusable water bottle because you wanted to cut back on plastic, help the planet and stay hydrated wherever, whenever. But as it turns out, your water bottle is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Based on an analysis from the environmental testing firm EmLab P&K, the average reusable water bottle has over 300,000 CFUs (that is, bacteria colony-forming units). The average toilet seat contains just 172 CFUs while a door knob has around 203 CFUs.
So, how often should you be cleaning your water bottle?
Scientists agree that you should be washing your water bottle after every use, or at the end of each day if you refill yours throughout the day. Bacteria breeds more quickly in dark and damp environments, so ensuring no new bacteria can grow and old bacteria is killed, spend a few minutes every evening cleaning your water bottle.
Does the material of the bottle make a difference?
It might surprise you, but stainless steel reusable water bottles are the best option. Plastic water bottles are incubators for germs. They’re highly porous and prone to cracking or splitting which allows germs and bacteria to collect in those areas. Stainless steel is naturally antiseptic, which means it naturally repels bacteria.
How should you be washing your water bottle?
Soap and warm water are a necessity when it comes to properly washing your water bottle. Using warm water alone won’t kill the bacteria. Be sure to clean the lid, straw and any other parts of the water bottle with soap and warm water as well. Michigan State University advises filling the bottle with warm water and dish soap and letting it soak for several minutes.
And last but arguably most important, is to dry your bottle properly. Any water left to sit in a bottle can contribute to even more bacteria growth. Make sure your bottle is nice and dry before you store it away. And if you have time, let it air dry overnight on your counter so when you fill it in the morning, you’ve got a clean water bottle for the day.
Invest in a high-quality, reusable water bottle and cleaning brush
If you’re going to be carrying it around with you for the next few years, invest in a high-quality and durable water bottle that is easily cleanable. Some water bottle companies are creating bottles that have removable bottoms that give you easier access to cleaning. While others are creating bottles with wide rim mouths that allow more surface area to get inside and clean. And don’t forget a good bottle cleaning brush — you can pick these up at your local grocery or drug store and they can ensure you don’t miss any spots.
Last but not least, if you know you won’t be using your water bottle for an extended period of time, be sure to clean and properly dry it. Then store in a cool, temperature controlled space.
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