How to Clean Your Reusable Water Bottle

Bacteria, buildup and gross smells be gone! Here are step-by-step instructions for cleaning every type of reusable water bottle.

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Many of us have a favorite reusable water bottle we carry on every adventure — work, exercise, car rides, lounging, you name it. They’re great for ensuring we’re drinking enough water every day while keeping disposable plastic water bottles out of the landfill.

But reusable water bottles aren’t so easy to clean. Even high-quality ones get pretty gross if they’re not cleaned properly. Though handy and eco-friendly, properly cleaning reusable water bottles has been a hassle.

Until now.

Here’s how to clean water bottles of every type and shape, ridding them of bacteria, smells, icky tastes and buildup. We’ll even show you how to clean those extra-tricky reusable straws, lids and water bottle attachments.

How often should you wash your water bottle?

It’s important to clean your water bottle thoroughly every day to limit microbial growth and ensure you’re drinking healthy, fresh and tasty water. If you’re sipping from the bottle consistently throughout the day, you may want to wash it more frequently.

How do you clean the inside of a water bottle?

“Using warm, soapy water will clean all types of water bottles including metal, glass and plastic,” says Britnee Tanner, a cleaning expert and professional organizer.

“Unfortunately, plastic and silicone water bottles can take on the scent of dish soap more than other materials. Avoid this by using less soap or using a soap that’s fragrance-free.”

How do you disinfect a water bottle?

Disinfecting a water bottle depends on what it’s made of, and if it contains special or electrical components common with smart water bottles.

If it’s made of durable tempered glass or metal, add a splash of dish soap and really hot water and let it sit for a few minutes to break up grime. Then get after it with a bottle brush. Boil silicone and metal straws to disinfect them.

Disinfect plastic and silicone bottles by filling them with warm water and adding a few drops of dish soap and a teaspoon of bleach, or equal parts baking soda diluted in vinegar. That kills bacteria and viruses. Besides being easy and inexpensive, it works on every reusable water bottle type and style.

If you’d rather avoid bleach, try water bottle disinfecting tablets once per week as an alternative. No matter the method, it’s extra important to rinse reusable water bottles thoroughly after disinfecting them.

How to clean a water bottle

Tools and supplies

  • Fragrance-free dish soap: Unscented dish soap is especially important for plastic, silicone and other synthetic-material water bottles, because they absorb odors and flavors more than glass or metal.
  • Bottle brush: A high-quality bottle brush with sturdy, durable bristles goes a long way. It reaches the deepest and narrowest parts of the bottle, ridding them of debris, buildup and microbial growth.
  • Straw cleaning brushes: Reusable straws require deep cleaning, too! Straw cleaning brushes prolong the life of metal and synthetic reusable straws, thanks to tiny bristles that clean every inch — and they’re a breeze to use.
  • Bottle disinfecting tablets: An effortless disinfecting method. Drop it into a filled water bottle, wait for it to dissolve and thoroughly rinse it.
  • At-home ingredients: Adding equal parts baking soda and white vinegar is a powerful DIY way to give bacteria and viruses the boot from your bottle. Or you can rinse with heavily diluted bleach. If you choose the latter, the standard formula is a teaspoon of bleach for every 16 ounces of water.


1. Empty and disassemble your water bottle: Empty and remove any detachable components, like the lid and straw and even the bottle handle Microbes love dark crevices and hard-to-reach corners, making areas like caps and lids especially important to thoroughly clean.

2. Prepare your cleaning solution: Give your bottle a heavy rinse. Then fill it with warm water and add your cleaning aid of choice, whether that’s a disinfecting tablet, unscented dish soap, heavily diluted bleach or a baking soda and vinegar solution. Depending on how dirty, stinky or foul-tasting your water bottle is, let the solution sit for a few minutes.

3. Break out the bottle brush: Scrub with a bottle brush, distributing the cleaning solution throughout the bottle’s curves, nooks and crannies. Use a steady up-and-down motion, then swirl the brush clockwise and counter-clockwise several times. The bristles will dislodge buildup and water scaling.

4. Scrub the straw: Clean the straw by repeating Step 3, but use a straw cleaning brush to distribute the solution in and around it.

5. Rinse thoroughly: Always rinse with warm water, which breaks up water and fat-based grime.

6. Air dry: “Water bottles can be stored upright or in a water bottle organizer on their side,” says Tanner. “Be sure to keep the lids either resting on the water bottle or loosely twisted on with spouts open.

“Do not tighten the lids or close spouts completely. The key is to allow air to pass through to the main chamber, as this will keep your water bottles odor-free!”

How to clean water bottles with bite valves

Water bottles with bite valves are especially popular with fitness fanatics and as back-to-school essentials for young children, but they’re notoriously tricky to clean. Here’s how to do it:

Start by removing the lid and separating each piece. If you don’t see visible buildup or detect a noticeable scent, run the pieces through your dishwasher in the utensils basket or top rack. Otherwise, use a straw brush and any of the warm water cleaning solutions mentioned above to hand wash the pieces. Let each piece air dry before reassembling.

How to clean drink tumblers with straws

Good news! Most drink tumblers can be cleaned in the dishwasher on the top rack without worry, or hand washed via any of the water bottle cleaning methods above. Reusable straws and screw-tight lids require extra elbow grease, though.

“Even the hottest, soapy water often doesn’t remove the slimy buildup that accumulates in straws and spouts,” Tanner says. “Once everything has been scrubbed with the brushes, rinse again with warm water and air dry on a drying mat or dish towel. Avoid any smells by laying the bottle on its side to air dry.”

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Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.