How Often Should You Clean Your Water Bottles?

You have your reusable water bottle that you use every day. Maybe it’s a BPA-free Nalgene bottle, a stainless steel Klean Kanteen, or maybe you like to keep your water really cold in a vacuum insulated Hydro Flask. Every morning you wake up and fill your water bottle so you can meet your daily water intake goal. You keep chugging until it’s empty, refill it, and repeat.

This is great. Drinking water is good for your health and it’s especially important when hiking, backpacking, or otherwise being active. Of course, many of us don’t clean our water bottles as often as we should. So how often should you clean your water bottles?

Why should you clean your water bottles?

Compared to disposable bottles, reusable water bottles save money and they’re better for the environment. Of course, reusable water bottles do have one major drawback.

Bacteria, germs, and microbes will contaminate your bottle even though you fill it with nothing but clean, fresh water. They create films on the inside surface of the bottle as well as the outside and openings.

A Canadian research firm found that the average reusable water bottle has more than 313,000 colony-forming units of bacteria. A pet’s chew toy has under 3,000 in comparison. Most of these bacteria probably won’t cause illness, but your bottle can harbor bacteria and viruses that do cause illness, too.

In other words, your water bottle is probably gross, so you need to wash it.

How often should you clean your water bottles?

How long has it been since you actually washed out your water bottle? Not just a quick rinse, but a good, proper washing. A week? A month? Longer? If you’re struggling to recall when you actually washed your water bottle, it’s been too long.

Some people recommend the you clean your water bottles after each use. However, this isn’t always practical, or even possible.

At the very least, get in the habit of washing your reusable water bottle every night. If you’re in the backcountry, wash your bottles when you get home.

You’ll be fine if you go a few days without washing your water bottle, but it’s a good idea to wash it as often as you can.

How to clean water bottles

You can clean your water bottles with warm water and soap, or a diluted bleach solution. Be sure to use a stiff brush to thoroughly scrub the inner walls, outer walls, the mouth opening, and the bottom of your water bottle.

Once you’ve clean your bottle, rinse it, and let it air dry before using it again. If you let it dry over night, it will be ready for you in the morning!

Another option is placing your water bottle in the dishwasher, assuming that it’s a dishwasher safe water bottle.

Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters to check out our great selection of reusable water bottles for hiking, backpacking, daily use, and any outdoor activity!

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