Shake What Your Mama Gave You: How To Clean Your Water Bottle


Okay, so you ride a bike and you carry a water bottle(s) in the cage, but are you treating and maintaining that bottle the way you should?  I know I’m not…..and this fact prompted me to start looking into it.  I do my best to treat my body right, but I now realize that I run the risk of swallowing bacteria almost every time I’m out on a ride.

The idea of cleaning out my bottle always seems to get pushed off as I find myself not wanting to take the time….so instead I simply refill and pop them back in the fridge.  Oh how naive I can be sometimes. So how exactly do you effectively clean a water bottle?  The few times that I have taken the effort to clean them, I use dish soap and water….and the next time I’m out riding I feel like I’m drinking out of the sink because I didn’t rinse properly.  One word….Nasty.

There are about as many different cleaning suggestions as there are water bottle types.  The methods are also dependent on what type of bottle you use as well. These days there are endless materials, designs, and varieties of water bottles…so in an effort to keep this fairly short, I’ll discuss what I feel are the best cleaning methods for plastic and aluminum bottles.

Plastic Bottles

  1. Start off by filling the bottle with hot water and a pea size drop of dishwashing liquid.  Put the cap back on the bottle and shake the heck out of it.
  2. Once you’ve tired yourself out, open the valve and squeeze the water out so that you can cleanse the nozzle in the process.
  3. Pour 2 tbsp. of baking soda into the bottle, then add 1/2 cup of vinegar.  If you know anything about chemistry, this is going to create some major fizzing which will likely fill the bottle.  Allow this to sit for about five minutes. (Vinegar kills mold and mildew germs and baking soda will aid in cleaning and removing odors.)
  4. If you have a bottle brush, use that to scrub the inside of the bottle while the vinegar mixture is still inside.  If you don’t have a brush, try jamming your hand in there with a dish cloth.  Either way, make sure to get all around the neck and groves of the bottle.  Put the lid back on and squeeze the mixture out through the nozzle.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with hot water and then place the bottle upside down to air dry on a clean towel.

Aluminum (metal) Bottles

  1. A.  Recommended Option:  Put about a cup of uncooked rice into the bottle followed by 2 tbsp. baking soda, and 1/2 cup vinegar.  Let it fizz up like I mentioned before, close the lid, and shake with all your might (the bottle, not yourself).  Squeeze the mixture out through the nozzle and then discard the rice.
    B.  Alternate Method:  Start off by putting one of those SOS pads (or competing brand) inside the bottle and then fill it a third full of hot, hot water.  Close it up and shake….Empty out the water….Repeat.  Pull the SOS pad out.
  2. Fill the empty bottle half full with hot water, put the lid on, and shake what your Mamma gave you (yourself, not the bottle this time….just kidding).  Squeeze it out through the nozzle.  Repeat this 3 or 4 times.
  3. Let the bottle air dry upside down on a towel.

Other Recommendations

  • You don’t have to clean your bottle after each and every ride, but I would recommend doing it at least once per week at a minimum.
  • If you use a clear plastic water bottle, and you can’t see through it any longer….throw it out.  The reason you can’t see through it is because it is full of mold and/or bacteria.  If you’re using a solid color plastic bottle and you haven’t been taking good care of it, trade it in for a new one every now and again.
  • Just because you’re using an aluminum bottle, don’t think you aren’t at risk of bacteria.  Those bad boys can accumulate on aluminum as well.
  • It shouldn’t be, but if you for some reason your plastic water bottle is made out of Bisphenol-A ….stop reading this, go get the bottle and dispose of it immediately.
  • If you add Electrolyte products or Additives to your water, you’re going to want to wash out your bottle more often and more intensely.  Sugars and bacterium will settle to the base of the bottle, as well as into every hard to reach area. This bacterium can result in sickness so you should make certain that you take the time to thoroughly clean the bottle.

Like I said, I’m totally guilty of not taking the time and effort to properly care for my water bottles. What about you?  I’d really like you’re feedback on this one. Please let us know what cleaning methods you like best, and if there’s a water bottle type you prefer for its cleanliness.  I’ve taught myself something today and will be trying out these techniques from now on.

DISCLAIMER: The tips in this post are what we think works best.  We do not guarantee that they will prevent bacteria or mold from forming in your bottle, nor that you will be free of any water bottle related infections.

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Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


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Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to

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