Okay Admit it, you’ve skipped a day, maybe a month, without giving your reusable water bottle a second thought or a proper washing.
Staying hydrated and doing you part for the environment by opting for a reusable bottle seem commendable, but don’t sabotage those healthy habits by exposing yourself to potentially unhealthy and harmful bacteria.
No matter what kind of reusable water bottle you have, they all need to be cleaned. 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. 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. Bacteria from your backwash, bacteria that thrive on sweat, bacteria that develop biofilms, bacteria that could make you sick, E. coli “poop” bacteria and even antibiotic resistant bacteria.
What’s a biofilm? We wanted to know too. Turns out it’s a slimy surface layer of bacteria that you may have already noticed forming on your trust H2O bottle. A study shows that drinking from the average refillable bottle is more than 100 times worse than licking your pet’s favorite chew toy.
When choosing a water bottle, steer clear of vessels with small mouth openings and pop caps or slides that you need to manhandle to open.
Consider a wide-mouth stainless steel water bottle the smaller the number of surfaces for bacteria to hide and grow in, the better. Stainless steel is easier to clean and harder for bacteria to create biofilms on. There’s no need to toss out other bottles you already have, but you may want to put in some extra effort to get them clean.
Washing isn’t optional. For best results, run through the dishwasher. Bottles can also be washed with soap and water, or use not so strong vinegar or bleach solution, rinse well and allow drying upside down. Use a thin stiff-bristled brush can also be used to clean the inside of a bottle along with soap and warm water. But avoid using those dirty dish towels to dry it or you can re-contaminate it!
Try to fight the habit of letting your water bottle sit in your gym bag or car, or bringing it into the bathroom. Those are just more opportunities for germs to be introduced and grow.
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.