Let’s be honest. When’s the last time you cleaned your water bottle? It never really feels dirty because you only fill it with water, right? But what if not properly cleaning your water bottle is the reason you have been sick (and it’s actually not the frat flu)? After reading about the bacteria that can grow in water bottles, I just knew that it was as bad as drinking water from the Recess Pool at Florida State.

Here’s what grossness can grow when you don’t clean your water bottle

Your reusable water bottle becomes the perfect environment for bacteria to grow because of all the moisture inside. Bacteria like E-Coli and mold have a fun little party inside the bottle, and if you aren’t cleaning it, you can’t bust their fiesta.

Photo by quokkabottles on Unsplash

In a study by New Jersey-based EmLab P&K, the team found that water bottles contain 313,499 colony-forming units of germs per square centimeter. Squeeze-top bottles had 99% harmful bacteria, while screw-top bottles had 98% harmful bacteria. Not cleaning your water bottle means you can get food poisoning symptoms (like vomiting or diarrhea).

Additionally, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health stated “significant bacterial contamination can occur in individual water samples originating from personal water bottles.”

Do you know what other concerns you definitely aren’t thinking about? The bacteria in your water bottle is not always coming from the inside, but from the outside. Bacteria is transmitted from your hands to the bottle. Charles Gerba, better known as Dr. Germ, is a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona. In an interview with Shape, he said “your hands may pick up viruses from touching various surfaces, which then get transferred to the bottle and eventually to your mouth.”

How to properly clean your water bottle

Water bottles harvest bacteria so easily when we don’t wash it consistently, even though we are simply refilling it with water and ice.

Daily wash

The daily method of cleaning shouldn’t shock you. It’s good old-fashioned soap and water. Empty the bottle, and fill it up with warm water and dish soap. Then, use a bottle brush or a Scrub Daddy to clean inside the bottle, the straw, and lid.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels

If your water bottle is dishwasher-safe, an easier way to clean it is by placing it in a dishwasher for an every-day wash. Yes, we have to start doing this every-day! Just make sure the dishwater is on the hottest setting so all of the germs are killed.

Monthly Deep Clean

For a deep cleanse, the usage of baking soda and vinegar are essential!

“Deep cleaning can be done by soaking the water bottle overnight with water and a teaspoon of baking soda, bleach, or vinegar,” said Dr. Bryan Quoc Le, a food scientist, and food industry consultant. “Make sure to thoroughly rinse the water bottle after the deep cleaning to remove any residues.”

After placing the vinegar in your water bottle, just make sure to rinse it out with soap and warm water, and it’ll have the same result as a deep clean. As Dr. Le recommends that we do these deep cleanings at least once a week.

Whenever we get sick, we always blame it on the environment or those around us. Sometimes we don’t even consider things like our water bottles, which we carry on us just as much as our phones. Where I go, my bottle does too. With that realization, now I find myself constantly cleaning mine.