How often do you clean your water bottle?

stainless steel water bottle

a stainless steel water bottle

If you drink out of a refillable water bottle, then you probably already know about its benefits. Reusable water bottles are a great way of helping the environment, and they also help you meet your daily water requirements. (Plus, this may just be me, but I have a hard time opening disposable plastic water bottles. Almost every time I twist open the top, water pours all over the bottle and myself. Am I gripping the bottle too tightly, or do they just consistently overfill those bottles? I digress.)

Finding exactly the right water bottle for you can be a process, but once you’ve got that sweet Goldilocks water bottle that’s “just right”– how often do you have to clean it?

I was wondering the exact same thing about a week ago, when I realized I probably hadn’t formally rinsed out or dish-washed my metal water bottle in about a week (and before that, who knows). Gross, you say? Well, here was my reasoning: I drink water pretty quickly and probably go through about 4-6 refills on my 18 ounce bottle every day. Since I had been drinking out of it constantly over the course of the week, wouldn’t rinsing it with water to clean it basically be equivalent to just refilling it and drinking it? [SPOILER ALERT: probably not.]

So, I searched the web for how frequently to wash out reusable water bottles. As always, the internet provided inconclusive results. I found a lot of forums where people’s responses ranged from “every few hours” to “once a month” to “every two years.”

I edited my search strategy. This time, I searched for care instructions published by the major manufacturers of BPA-free plastic water bottles and metal water bottles.

The general consensus is that you should probably give your water bottle a rinse at the end of each day of use. To do this, you can rinse the bottle and cap under the faucet with warm water and a little bit of soap (you can substitute soap and water for vinegar, or baking soda and water), and then let it air dry with the bottle top off.  You can also do a more thorough cleaning with a bottle brush. Many, but not all, water bottles are dishwasher-safe, particularly when placed away from a dishwasher heating element on the top rack of a dishwasher.  Generally, many of the bottles that are insulated or painted are not dishwasher safe. To check, visit the manufacturer website.

After I thought about how infrequently I clean my water bottle, I started thinking about how all those metal ridges on my water bottle are probably just an open house for bacteria and viruses to chill out. And then, I cleaned my water bottle. The germ fears dissipated, and the water tasted a whole lot better, too.



  1. Thankyou! I was having the exact same issue, another question is how long can we keep these bottles? I’ve had mine for like a year now and I wash it well and all but I’m wondering if having this bottle for such long quantities of time is dangerous?


  2. Great question!

    Although I’m no expert, I did a bit of digging on the lifespan of reusable water bottles. Based on what I found, if you’re using a BPA-free plastic or metal water bottle, there’s no hard and fast estimate for how long you can use them. Generally, they are built to be safe, non-toxic (nearly non-existent leaching) and durable, and can be safely reused for a very long time. [I personally have used mine for over two years.] That being said, there are plenty of issues that might get in the way of you using the same water bottle forever: funny tastes and smells, a dog chewing up the water bottle cap, having accumulated so many dents that it can no longer sit flat on a surface, etc. To address those issues: cleaning your water bottle properly will help with eliminating tastes and smells; most manufacturers offer replacement parts like caps and lids so that you can keep using the same water bottle for a long time; and, in general, structural damage like denting doesn’t compromise the performance of your water bottle. Hope this helps answer your question!


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