You Should Be Cleaning Your Reusable Water Bottle More Often Than You Think

A reusable water bottle is one of life's great accessories. It's handy to have at work, or on walks, or for gym visits, and it's available in a myriad of colors and styles. It's also, it must be said, much better for the environment than a never-ending parade of plastic water bottles. There is some upkeep involved, however. As Martha Stewart notes, you need to clean your water bottle often ... much more often than you might think.

As it happens, reusable water bottles can rather quickly become breeding grounds for all sorts of unhealthy bacteria. How much bacteria, you might ask? Based on testing done by Treadmill Reviews, the average reusable water bottle has about 300,000 CFUs (colony-forming units) per square centimeter. For a bit of context, that's about 10 times the number of bacteria cells you'd be likely to find in your kitchen sink, and six times more than you'd typically find in your pet's bowl. Only toothbrush holders and toilet seats come close in terms of being bacterial hotbeds!

If that isn't bad enough, one study (published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online), which analyzed the reusable water bottles of 30 gym-goers in Brazil, found alarming amounts of bacteria present, including both Staphylococcus aureus (90% of the bottles) and E. coli (23%).

How to clean your reusable water bottle and how often

Before panic sets in, however, we should reiterate that your reusable water bottle can very easily be kept safe and healthy for use if cleaned properly and at regular intervals. How often is cleaning necessary to avoid the buildup of bacteria? Ideally, you should clean your water bottle daily, or after every use.

Luckily, most water bottles are dishwasher safe, although that might not be the best option for the screw-on lid. For daily cleanings, Real Simple recommends using a bottle brush and dishwashing liquid to make sure you get those tricky spots around the lip and lid. Better Homes & Gardens offers three options for water bottle cleaning for those without dishwashers, including liquid dish soap, distilled white vinegar, and baking soda and bleach. Bon App├ętit, meanwhile, favors adding a monthly refresher for your reusable water bottle using fizzy cleaning tablets.

So as you can see, there are many ways to keep your favorite water bottle clean. Just remember: Whatever cleaning method you choose, use it often!