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What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Water Bottle?

Many of us know the importance of drinking clean water on a daily basis, but how many of us actually know and understand the importance of cleaning the bottle from which we drink the water from?? In all honesty, there are a lot of people who tend to forget to wash or clean their water bottle for ages. It is extremely important to clean your water bottle, as you are drinking from that bottle every day. In this article, we are going to talk about what happens if you don’t clean your water bottle.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Water Bottle?

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Water Bottle?

When you don’t clean your water bottle, there will be accumulation of bacteria and other germs in the bottle, which form a bio-film on the walls of the bottle.(1,7)

Bacteria can especially thrive in your water bottle if some water is left inside for some days. Also, mold has a tendency to grow in stagnant water, and because you forget to clean your water bottle, then it can become a cozy shelter for bacterial growth too.(1,2,7) When you are drinking from the bottle directly, then the bacteria present in your mouth spreads to the water and grows within your bottle.

Another thing is, the external surface of your water bottle will have more bacteria and other germs than the inside of your water be bottle. Bacteria coming from your mouth are not that much concerning, as your body is familiar with it; however, the bacteria that spreads to the bottle from your hands that in turn come from the surrounding environment or the bacteria from other person’s mouth that has shared your bottle, becomes quite problematic. When you think of the different places you place your water bottle, such as on your gym floor, kitchen counter, car etc., imagine how many germs the outer surface of your water bottle has collected.

This situation gets worse when these water bottles coated with bacteria on the outside as well as the inside become a hot spot for thriving of bacteria. The risk of numerous disease increases upon exposure to various bacteria. However, not each and every bacterium can cause sickness, as the body’s immune system along with the stomach acid help in destroying the microbes.

What are the Symptoms or The Negative Effects from Drinking Water from Dirty Water Bottle?(2)

Some of the common symptoms or negative effects one can experience from not cleaning your water bottle and thus causing viruses and bacteria to grow are: Fatigue, nausea and headaches. In very uncommon cases, due to growth of mold you can also have allergic reactions like runny nose or sneezing.(2)

Do You Have To Wash Your Water Bottle Every Day?

It is okay if you don’t wash your water bottle every day; however, you need to wash it quite often, at least like twice or thrice a week.

Drinking water from a reusable bottle that has not been washed for some time is a big no-no. Other than this, the re-use of single-use plastic bottles should be avoided and they should be used only once, as there is high risk of leaching of chemicals from these bottles that are detrimental for your health. Also, any cracks or dents in the plastic water bottles become a home for bacteria and other germs and such bottles should be tossed immediately. For this reason, it is better to opt for a glass, ceramic or stainless steel water bottle that can be re-used many times.

However, whatever the material of your water bottle, steel or glass; cleaning your water bottle is equally important, irrespective of what it is made of.

NOTE: There are some claims that steel may act as an antibacterial, but studies have shown that this is not so.

How Often Should You Clean Your Water Bottle?

It is absolutely mandatory that you clean you water bottle at least once to twice a week if not every day.

People with weak immune system, such as pregnant women or organ transplant patients have to take extra care when it comes to cleaning their water bottle, as they are more susceptible to getting sick from the mold and bacteria growth in the water bottle. Such people should ideally wash their water bottle each and every day.

What is the Best Way to Clean Your Water Bottle?(4,6,7)

The best method of cleaning your water bottle is using a bottle brush and some cleaning liquid. You can also use baking powder, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

Bottle Brush: Using a bottle brush is the best way to clean your water bottle because it can easily reach inside your bottle and scrub all the slimy residue (if any) from within your water bottle, so that it gets absolutely clean. Make sure you use a clean bottle brush and wash the brush again after use.

Continuous Rinsing: Another way of cleaning your water bottle is rinsing it with soap and water till the water runs clean.

Deeper Cleaning by Soaking the Bottle: For more deep cleaning, you can soak your water bottle in solution of 1:1 water and vinegar overnight or for some hours, after which you can wash and rinse it. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that helps in killing the harmful germs and bacteria present in your water bottle.

Your Usage: The frequency and the way of cleaning your water bottle depends on how much and where you water bottle is used. Supposing you take your water bottle to the gym and it is placed on the gym floor, in the car, shared by other people or kept aside for some days, then it is highly recommended to clean it daily. You can also soak your water bottle in a solution of water and baking soda and use warm water for cleaning it.

Make sure to avoid keeping your water bottle in environments that are prone to more germs, such as gym bag or your bathroom, which increases the moisture and creates a breeding home for bacteria and mold.(2)

Last But Not The Least; Drying Your Water Bottle: The final thing to remember; and which is very important when it comes to cleaning your water bottle is, after washing it, you should let your water bottle air dry before using it again. Doing this will cut down on the risk of bacteria and mold growth. You can also use a bottle drying rack to help dry your water bottles properly, so they are not moist when using them the next time.

Tip: Better wash your water bottle in the night and let it air dry, so it is fresh to use in the morning!

What Type of Water Bottle is Best for Use?

Water Bottle with a Large Opening: It is better to purchase a water bottle with a large mouth so your bottle brush can easily slide within to clean the insides of your bottle. It also helps that wide-mouth bottle gets dry more quickly.

Easy to Open Water Bottle: Better not use water bottles where you need to use your hand to open the lid, as it increases the transfer of germs from the hands to the bottle’s mouthpiece.

Water Bottle with a Built-in Straw: It is also better to buy a water bottle, which has straw built in. Studies have shown that water drunk out of a straw in a water bottle that is kept vertical had the minimum bacteria.(3)


There is no denying that all of us have been guilty of not washing our water bottle for days and even weeks and continue sipping water from a dirty bottle. The bacteria and mold may not be visible to the eye and the symptoms of drinking water from a dirty bottle may not be obvious at first and it will take some time for you to realize that the culprit of the contaminated water is your personal water bottle.

Gradually your symptoms will worsen comprising of continuous gastric symptoms or allergy symptoms. So, it is extremely important to pay attention closer to home when it comes to the source of unclean water, which could easily be your unclean and unwashed water bottle!


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 2, 2021

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