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What are the Consequences of Not Washing Your Water Bottle Enough?

by Katrina Bromell 05 Oct 2023
man drinking from stainless steel water bottle

What happens if you just refill your water bottle over and over again?

Water bottles have become a fashion accessory, they are practical, they are good for the environment, they save us buying water unnecessarily. But, in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, it's easy to just keep refilling, while completely ignoring the cleanliness of the water bottle! 

The Breeding Ground for Bacteria

Water bottles can unwittingly become breeding grounds for bacteria if they are not cleaned regularly. Every time we take a sip, we introduce a plethora of microorganisms from our mouth into the bottle. I bet you never thought of that!  Over time, these microbes multiply and establish colonies, creating an environment ripe for potential health risks and yukkiness.

Understanding the Microbial Menace

Numerous scientific studies have highlighted the alarming presence of bacteria in neglected water bottles. Research conducted by the Journal of Environmental Health in 2018 found that unwashed water bottles can harbour an array of harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. These microbes can cause a range of health issues, from minor tummy upsets to more serious gastrointestinal infections. 

According to a study by, reusable water bottles contain an average of 20.8m colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria, which equates to 40,000 times more than the microbes on a toilet seat! Mon dieu! 

Unpleasant Consequences: Taste and Odour

Putting health aside, not cleaning your water bottle regularly can lead to an altogether less enjoyable drinking experience. Residue from your drinks (if not water) can accumulate over time, causing not-so-nice smells and changing the taste of your water. Who wants to drink from a water bottle that emits a yuk smell or adds a strange flavour to their water?

Mould: A Hidden Threat

Where does mould thrive? In damp or humid environments, such as within the confines of a sealed water bottle! This is often unnoticed until it reaches a critical level. I was with a friend the other day who noticed her water didn't taste so good, and when she looked inside her water bottle there were floaties hanging off the sides and mould around the lip. Urrrgh. Ingesting even small amounts of mould is really not great for you.

The Peril of Mould

Mould is a type of fungus and releases spores into the air. When breathed in, these spores can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Prolonged exposure to mould spores can even lead to respiratory problems - now you see why we encourage water bottle hygiene! 

Plastic Degradation: A Chemical Concern

Plastic water bottles undergo wear and tear over time, and exposure to various temperatures and other factors can cause plastic bottles to degrade, releasing harmful chemicals into the water. This can pose potential health risks, particularly if the chemicals leach into the water.

A Chemical Conundrum

A study published in the journal Environmental Pollution found that degraded plastic bottles can release a variety of chemicals, including phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), into the water. These chemicals have been associated with a range of health issues, from hormonal disruptions to developmental problems in children.

The Simple Solution? Regular Cleaning!

After all this, it's pretty clear that regular cleaning is a good idea! A daily rinse and scrub with warm, soapy water can prevent bacterial growth and pesky germs. You may want to get a water bottle cleaning brush for your kitchen so you can reach the depth of the water bottle. Some people also like a weekly deep clean using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Clean freaks? Maybe, but clean is GOOD.


1. Can't I just replace my water bottle if it gets dirty?

Of course!, but while replacing a bottle is an option, it's not the most eco-friendly choice. Regular cleaning extends the lifespan of your bottle and reduces waste.

2. How often should I deep clean my water bottle?

A deep clean once a week is generally sufficient. However, if you notice any signs of residue or an unpleasant smell, clean it immediately.

3. Can I use bleach to clean my water bottle?

Using bleach is not recommended or needed. Stick to natural cleaning agents like vinegar and baking soda.

4. Can I put my water bottle in the dishwasher?

Some bottles are dishwasher-safe, while others may not withstand the high temperatures. We recommend hand-washing over dishwashing.

5. What's the best way to remove mould from a water bottle?

A mixture of vinegar and baking soda is an effective natural method to remove mould. Let it sit for a few hours before rinsing thoroughly.

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