Primary Care

How often you should wash your reusable water bottle

Woman exercising outdoors takes a break to drink from her water bottle


This is your friendly reminder to wash your reusable water bottle!


By Austin Evangelista, AGPCNP, Internal Medicine, Nuvance Health Medical Practice


In the fast-paced world we live in, reusable water bottles have become our trusty sidekick. They accompany us everywhere from morning walks around the neighborhood, to the office, the gym and all the way to our late-night TV binges. Reusable water bottles have even become popular among the trendsetting preteen crowd, proving that hydration knows no age limit! Who would have thought a water bottle could be so cool? (no pun intended).


While our reusable water bottles make us feel good about staying hydrated and reducing our plastic footprint, we may be overlooking one critical detail — cleanliness. Learn how often you should clean your reusable water bottle and why it’s so important for your health.



Why you should clean your water bottle


Did you know that your water bottle can make you sick if you don’t clean it often? Regularly cleaning your water bottle is essential for maintaining good hygiene and preventing the growth of bacteria and mold. They can become a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms if not cleaned regularly. Yuck!


Here’s why cleaning your reusable water bottle is essential:

  • Prevents bacterial growth: Regularly washing your water bottle with soap and hot water prevents bacterial growth. Bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus can cause illnesses like gastrointestinal infections, food poisoning and skin infections. Mold can also cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions.

  • Minimizes waste: Regularly cleaning and using your water bottle keeps our environment healthy by reducing the need for single-use plastics.


  • Avoids contamination: Bacteria from your hands, surfaces or previous beverages can contaminate your water bottle and increase your likelihood of ingesting harmful pathogens.



Germs cling not only on the inside of your water bottle, but the outside too. If you experience symptoms such as stomach pain, frequent coughing or notice a skin rash, you should make an appointment with your primary care provider.



How often you should clean your water bottle


Washing your reusable water bottle daily is encouraged, especially if you use it for beverages other than water. Washing it daily helps minimize the risk of bacterial growth and keeps your bottle clean and odor-free.


How often you should clean your water bottle depends on various factors such as your daily activities, where you’re bringing it and smell/taste of the bottle itself.


Here are some factors that indicate your water bottle should be cleaned more often:

  • You use it every day: If you drink out of your water bottle throughout the day and refill it multiple times, it is recommended to wash it daily to prevent bacterial buildup.

  • You drink beverages other than water: Certain beverages, such as sugary drinks or iced tea can leave behind residue and promote bacterial growth. 

  • You use it in a hot environment: If you use your water bottle in a hot and humid climate, such as during workouts or outdoor activities, bacteria can grow rapidly! Clean your bottle after each use to remove sweat and prevent odor.



Here are some signs that indicate your water bottle needs to be cleaned immediately:

  • Odor: If your water bottle has a foul or funny smell.

  • Visible dirt or residue: If you notice any visible dirt or residue inside your water bottle.

  • Changes in taste: If your drink tastes off.


Remember, regularly cleaning your reusable water bottle is essential for your overall health and well-being. Drinking out of a water bottle that has mold growing in hard to clean places could cause symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation and congestion. If you experience any of these, you should seek help from your primary care physician.



Tips for cleaning your water bottle


Effective techniques for washing your water bottle include:

  • Use hot and soapy water.

  • Scrub the inside, outside, cap, lid, straw, mouthpiece and rubber pieces that pop off (if applicable) thoroughly.

  • Let it air dry completely.

  • Soak the bottle in a mixture of water and vinegar or water and baking soda overnight to get rid of stubborn odors.


By following these proper cleaning techniques, you can keep your reusable water bottle clean, odor-free and safe to use!


How to maintain healthy water bottle habits


We bring our reusable water bottle with us practically everywhere. It’s essential to stay hydrated, especially while we’re outdoors on hikes or bike rides. Everything that we touch, our water bottle essentially touches throughout the day.



Fostering healthy water bottle habits offers several benefits:

  • It helps to ensure that your beverages are free from harmful bacteria which can reduce the risk of illness.

  • A clean water bottle prevents unpleasant odors from developing which can improve the taste of your beverage.

  • Regular cleaning extends the lifespan of your water bottle which can help keep it in good condition.


Dry your water bottle completely: Make sure your water bottle is completely dry before storing it. Moist environments can promote bacterial growth. At room temperature or in a refrigerator, various microorganisms, including foodborne pathogens can thrive in beverages.


Educate your family and friends about water bottle hygiene: People may not realize that bacteria can quickly accumulate in their water bottles if they are not cleaned often and properly. By raising awareness about the importance of cleaning, we can encourage everyone to take the necessary steps to maintain their bottle's hygiene.


Create a water bottle cleaning routine and stick to it: Establishing a consistent cleaning routine is key to ensuring the cleanliness of your water bottle. Make it a habit to wash your bottle thoroughly after each use. Consider investing in a bottle brush to reach all the nooks and crannies.


Don’t share your water bottle: Avoid sharing your water bottle with others as this can spread germs and increase risk of infection. If you develop a cough that lasts longer than a few days, you should seek guidance from your primary care provider.



The bottom line: Ask yourself this — would you eat with the same unwashed fork and spoon every day? If you answered no, you probably shouldn’t drink from an unwashed water bottle either. By taking a few minutes out of your day to clean your reusable water bottle, you can prevent illness and spreading germs. Remember, maintaining good water bottle hygiene is essential for your overall health and well-being.