How to Clean a Water Bottle to Prevent Germs, Mold, and Buildup

How to Clean a Water Bottle to Prevent Germs, Mold, and Buildup

Your water bottle may go with you everywhere, but there’s one thing it can’t do—clean itself. Is there anything as underrated as your reusable water bottle? This handy item goes with you to the gym, your desk, the grocery store, and on daily dog walks. It might be in your favorite color and keep ice water cold for hours on end, but it might also be host to bacteria, buildup, and even mold. With so many reusable types available, it's sometimes confusing to understand how to clean a water bottle.

Experts say you should wash your water bottle after every use. According to researchers at Treadmill Reviews, athletes' water bottles, on average, host 313,499 colony-forming units (CFU) per square centimeter. For comparison, the average pet toy has just 2,937 CFU per square centimeter. That's a lot of germs. Plus, any warm, damp place is a breeding ground for mold growth. So check out our tips for how to clean a water bottle to ensure you're drinking from a safe, clean vessel.


3 Ways to Clean Water Bottles

close up of pouring solution into water reusable water bottle

Some water bottles are dishwasher safe. If so, toss yours into the dishwasher every time you run a cycle. However, even if the base of the bottle can go in the dishwasher, the lid might not. If your water bottle isn't dishwasher-safe, use these common cleaning agents to get the job done.


How to Clean a Water Bottle with Liquid Dish Soap

How to Clean a Water Bottle to Prevent Germs, Mold, and Buildup

For everyday washes, warm, soapy water will do the trick.

  1. Fill the empty water bottle with hot water and add a few drops of liquid dish detergent.
  2. Place the cap back on and shake it well—the water should begin to bubble inside.
  3. Dump out the suds, then use a bottle scrub brush to reach the bottom of the bottle. And don't forget to wash the exterior and bottom of the bottle.
  4. Once you're done scrubbing, rinse your water bottle in warm water until you no longer see any soap bubbles, and then let it dry thoroughly.
  5. Scrub the lid inside and out, paying extra attention to the spout opening or mouthpiece. Rinse it and let dry.


How to Clean a Water Bottle with Distilled White Vinegar

How to Clean a Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Vinegar is our favorite go-to cleaning agent.

  1. Fill your water bottle halfway with equal parts vinegar and water.
  2. Place the cap back on and give it a few shakes before letting it sit with the solution overnight.
  3. The next day, be sure to thoroughly rinse out both the bottle and the lid with warm water to remove any leftover vinegar. Let them dry.

This is a particularly good way to clean a stainless steel water bottle.


How to Clean a Water Bottle with Baking Soda and Bleach

adding baking soda to reusable water bottle

For hard-to-clean grime and mildew, consider cleaning your water bottle with bleach.

  1. Mix a teaspoon of bleach with a teaspoon of baking soda in your water bottle.
  2. Fill the remainder with water.
  3. Use the solution to scrub the cap, both inside and out.
  4. Let your water bottle sit overnight, then rinse thoroughly with warm water in the morning. Let it dry.

If your bottle is dishwasher friendly, we suggest running it through a cycle.


How to Clean Water Bottle Lids and Different Types

How To Clean Hydro Flask Straw Lid | Hydro Flask Straw Cap Supplier

Many of the best new water bottles come with all the bells and whistles, including reusable straws, BPA-free materials, insulated double-wall interiors, and more. However, these features come with special cleaning issues. Here's how to clean specific types of water bottles when traditional cleaning techniques just won't suffice.


How to Clean a Tumbler with a Straw

20 oz Stainless Steel Tumbler Insulated Coffee Cup Travel Mug With 2 Straw  Brush | eBay

Most tumblers can be cleaned in the dishwasher or with the above water bottle cleaning methods. The reusable straws, however, need special care. We recommend purchasing a set of straw brushes. When you're ready to clean your tumbler straw, rinse it with warm water, place a small amount of dish soap on your straw brush, and scrub the interior and exterior. If that's not getting the job done, you can add baking soda, which will act as an abrasive.


How to Clean a Travel Mug

3 Simple Ways to Clean a Travel Mug - wikiHow Life

Travel mugs are typically used for hot drinks, but several water bottle companies use the same flip-top lid. If you plan to wash your travel mug in the dishwasher, use the top rack. However, you'll want to hand wash it if it's insulated. Wash the lid by removing the rubber seal around the base and scrubbing it with warm, soapy water. Be sure to get every nook and cranny of the top, as it can be a hot spot for mold.




  • All photos used in this blogpost are sourced from the internet, and the rights belong to their respective owners
  • Bruneman, H. (2023, June 5). How to Clean a Water Bottle to Prevent Germs, Mold, and Buildup. Better Homes & Gardens.
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