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

  • 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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  • Steve

    The combination of vinegar and baking soda was perfect! I used a brish to finish it off and Wham! Just like new.

  • sonofabike

    I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned simple household bleach as a cleaning solution. I’ve been using Specialized Big Mouth bottles (BPA-free) for years and have been using a diluted bleach solution (1/2-tbsp for each 24 oz. bottle filled w/ h20) and simply let the bottle soak for 1-2 hrs. Half the time upright, half the time upside down, cap on and spout closed. Rinse well, air dry upside down, caps off. No rigorous shaking necessary!

    For bottles that didn’t contain any mixed sport drink (just plain water), a prompt wash w/ light dishwashing detergent solution is enough. Some shaking required. ;)

    • Darryl

      Thanks for including this. I’ve read about using bleach, but have been a little leery of using it myself. There is no doubt that it would cleanse things out, but I’d prefer using a more natural method than chemicals. To each their own and I hope some readers will give it a try.

  • Clive Chapman

    Like you I never give this any thought. I just bung my bottles (plastic BTW) in the dishwasher and have never had any dramas.

    I have seen the odd cyclists bottles doing a pretty good impression of a petri dish with new forms of penecilin in them though…

    • Darryl

      Yeah, some bottles can get pretty nasty. I know that I am going to commit to clean bottles from now on.

  • Myron

    Awesome post! I’ll use this info for many years to come.

  • Richard Masoner

    Aluminum and some of the plastic bottles (e.g. Polar) are dishwasher safe. I’m not too convinced just shaking the bottle gets them all that clean, but then I’m not too concerned about the germs either — I always completely air dry the bottles, and I almost never use anything other than water.

    The plastics used for squeezable water bottles are almost always LDPE plastic, which has never used BPA. CamelBak’s Chill Jacket is an exception — they’re made with polyprop but it’s still BPA free (they don’t have the bad taste of LDPE).

    For athletes, you’ll find BPA in older Nalgene water bottles (and their knockoffs) as well as in (ironically) SIGG aluminum bottles manufactured before 2008 (the bottles have plastic liners).

    Finally, there’s the Clean Bottle with a screw bottom so you can actually clean the inside of the bottle.

    • VitaminLee

      Screw Bottom eh? Gotto look into this, I keep learning new things from you guys. Thanks for the info Richard

    • Darryl

      Excellent information, Richard. You sure do know your stuff. I was actually just going to come on and leave a comment about BPA. I found the same information in that any bottles older than 2008 should be tossed.

  • VitaminLee

    I’m such a paranoid germ-consumptionaphobe that I’m rocking out a glass bottle (another great Canadian export), but my aluminum has also served me well. Now neither are as convenient and as practical as the ole squeezable, tumbleable, unbreakable plastic bottle so thanks for the great cleaning tip.

    • VitaminLee

      sssssssssssssss, tips

    • Danielle

      Get a Nalgene, trust me.

  • Cassi

    Great advice, instruction. Darryl – do you know of anyone making BPA-free, flexible, bike bottles? I should probably do the investigating myself, but thought you might be able to recommend something … I have both aluminum and variety of plastic bottles (which I’m not entirely sure are BPA-free). I try not to use the plastic ones in hot weather, because of my uncertainty, but really prefer them on the bike. Thanks, always – C

    • VitaminLee

      Hey Cassi – I’ve got a handy one, been using it for over a year now, from I purchased it at a local sporting goods store. What I like about it is that it doesn’t condense as much (so dry on the outside) and it keeps liquids cooler for longer. Think the green rocks and the shape makes it handy for gripping. But that’s just me:-) Oh Oh and it has a wide mouth for adding ice.

      • Darryl

        Thanks for sharing this information, Lee.

  • Dan Bergeson

    This is such good and timely advice. I’m just like you, always putting off cleaning the bottles in favor of getting on the bike as quickly as I can. I’ve never done anything beyond soap and water and that rarely. I’m going to be better from now on.

    • Darryl

      Thanks Dan, I totally understand. Last night was the best cleaning job I’ve ever given my water bottles. Now that I know what to do, I’m going to be doing it a lot more often.