We’ve all heard how important it is to drink an adequate amount of water daily to keep our body healthy.
That’s why reusable water bottles are so popular. They can be conveniently refilled, toted anywhere, and they help protect the environment.
Unfortunately, they can also be a hotbed of germs especially if they’re not cleaned and disinfected regularly. If you’re wondering how often should you wash your water bottle, read on. What you’re about to find out may surprise you.
The Truth About Water Bottles
We often think that water bottles are a healthy and harmless accessory. They’re BPA-free and they’re mostly used to hold water, so how dirty can they get? How bad is it to skip washing them regularly?
Turns out it can be pretty bad. A study that swabbed the lids of several athletes’ water bottles found that they contained over 313,000 CFU (colony-forming units) or bacteria.
By comparison, the average dog chew toy contains just under 3,000 CFU on its surface. That means the average water bottle in the study harbored over 100 times more germs than a pet toy! When compared to the surfaces of other objects in the study, only a toothbrush holder contained more CFU.
How Bad is This Bacteria?
The same study broke down the detected bacteria into four categories from harmless varieties to harmful ones that are immune to antibiotics.
Here’s where the news gets worse: all of the water bottles contained at least some gram-negative rods, which was the most harmful bacteria. A whopping 99% of the bacteria found on the squeeze-top water bottles were gram-negative rods. On screw-top bottles, it made up 98% of the bacteria on the surface.
The good news is most people don’t get sick from failing to wash their water bottle each day. The bad news is the potential to harm is there.
E-coli is a gram-negative rod bacteria, for example. Gram-negative rods have been attributed to blood infections and pneumonia.
Bacteria that’s been allowed to sit in your water bottle can actually form a biofilm. We actually get biofilm on our teeth if we don’t brush and floss them regularly. It’s a slimy thin layer of bacteria that can build up on surfaces, including the crevices of our water bottle.
Needless to say, it’s not a great idea to skip washing your water bottle regularly.
Water Bottle Type Makes a Difference
The study did notice that different water bottle styles trapped more bacteria than others.
Squeeze-top and screw-top bottles did the worse in the study. That’s because they contained more germs from the mouth. Screw-top bottles offer more surface for mouths to drink from, which can increase your chances of ingesting harmful bacteria.
The concentration of gram-negative rods dropped to 33% in slide-top water bottles. Straw-tops bottles were the cleanest. They actually contained only “positive” forms of bacteria and none of the negative ones.
The material your bottle is made from can make a difference as well. Stainless steel and glass bottles tend to resist bacteria better than plastic. Plastic tends to have tiny crevices that can harbor more germs.
But, no matter which type of water bottle style you prefer you still need to wash it regularly. And you shouldn’t let the findings of this study discourage you from using a reusable water bottle. There are chemicals lurking in plastic water bottles that can be as harmful.
How Often Should You Wash Your Water Bottle?
It’s easy to think that a drinking vessel that holds something as clear as water doesn’t need to be cleaned every day. We tend to think that coffee mugs and soda glasses need to be washed after each year, because they’re used for drinking beverages that contain sugar, dairy, and other sticky ingredients.
But as you can see, washing your water bottle after each day of use can keep germs to a minimum and decrease your chances of getting sick. Get into the habit of cleaning your water bottle every night.
How to Clean Your Water Bottle
You can either place your bottle in your dishwasher or wash it by hand. Although most bottles being made today are dishwasher safe, check with your bottle’s manufacturer to confirm. You’ll want to insert it upside down so water reaches the inside, and it’s a good idea to place the cap in the dishwasher to disinfect it.
When washing it by hand use warm to hot water and dishwashing detergent. Consider using a bottle brush long enough to reach and scrub the bottom of the bottle—this area can trap germs and is often overlooked. Clean the cap as well.
Tip the bottle upside down and let it air dry. You can also swish around a mild vinegar-water or bleach-water solution inside the bottle to disinfect it. Rinse well and let air dry.
Don’t forget to clean any infusion parts that hold fruit or tea to flavor your water. These components can attract and grow bacteria as well.
A Clean Water Bottle Starts With Clean Water
So, how often should you wash your water bottle? The answer is every day that you’ve used it. Regular cleaning will keep your water tasting fresh and protect you from germs that can potentially cause illness.
However, a clean water bottle is the beginning. You need to ensure you’re putting clean water into it. One of the best ways to do so without buying water in plastic bottles is to invest in a good water filter for your home.
To stay healthy and hydrated, start by shopping our selection of faucet-mount water filters. They make refilling your water bottle with clean, safe water fast and convenient.