How to keep your water bottle safe from dangerous levels of bacteria

Is your water bottle dirtier than your dog's bowl?

Some scientists say yes. We love the #waronwaste and can see some real mainstream changes when it comes to consumers switching to reusables and ditching a large amount of single use plastic from their lives. It's really important to make sure you keep your reusables clean though. Whether it's a reusable shopping bag you hand over at the supermarket, your reusable coffee cup or even the humble water bottle, cleanliness is next to eco-friendliness, but for many, it's an after thought and forgotten. I know I have neglected mine many times and then felt the inside was a little slimy after a few weeks.

It's only water, it's clean right?

When we asked some of our customers how often they clean their water bottles, many told us that once a month or less was the norm. We heard "it's only water, it's not dirty" quite a lot. It's not just water though, it's also bacteria from your mouth (which is perfectly healthy when it's in your mouth) and other external sources. There enough disturbing articles online about everything eventually being 'covered in fecal matter' that it's worth taking a minute or two out of your day to remember when the last time was that you actually really cleaned your water bottle.

In natural skin care, it's the products that contain water that need the most care with preservatives, so logic dictates that the remnants of water in your water bottle could be an issue too.

How much bacteria could be lurking in my water bottle?

US TV station KDVR just aired a story about swabbing reusable bottles and the results were a little alarming. A CFU is a 'colony forming unit' for measuring bacterial levels. Five is an acceptable number in a test. One in 3 drink bottles tested had more than 100,000 CFU per swab. A dog bowl had 700 CFU. The bacteria already in your body should be capable of taking care of a reasonable amount of low level bacteria left behind in your water bottle without too much issue, but for those whose health are compromised or if it's heavily laden like the 100,000 CFU bottle, that's a load your body just doesn't need. And it's super easy to fix.

Washing once a month in the dishwasher is not enough

The owner of a 100,000 CFU bottle said they washed it once a month in the dishwasher. When the dog bowl was 700CFU and the dishwasher was 100,000 CFU, it's clearly not enough. While some bottles in store are dishwasher safe, when the opening is narrow, I honestly don't see how the dishwasher can get every little bit of it clean. If it's a wide mouth opening you're fine, but just beware.

Rinsing is not enough either

Another bottle rinsed daily (but not 'washed') still had a reading of 6000 CFU. Still way dirtier than your dog bowl.

The best way to clean a water bottle

By far, the best option is hot soapy water and a bottle brush. Many bottle brushes are large and difficult to get inside water bottles. We took a narrow neck glass water bottle from Beautiful Beaches and the new plastic free bottle brush from Ecococonut to show you just how easy it is to do.

Grab your favourite natural dishwashing liquid and pop a little squirt in the bottom, fill around 1/3 with water and pop the lid on and give it a good shake to get the suds going (above).

What we love about this brush is that it's relatively narrow, but has a curved end (which you can see up close in the next photo) which makes it ideal to get to the corners.

Narrow brush 'could' be a problem with a stiff plastic inner rod, but this one is stainless steel (the whole thing is plastic free) and has a little give in it, so you can get it to brush right up against the side of the bottle.

And the bendy end works wonders on the top curve of the bottle as it tapers to the neck.

The Ecococonut Bottle Brush is only $6.95, so is the Ecococonut Dish Brush. Both are made with FSC certified timber handles and coconut fibres. Grab a pair of Ecococonut Scourers for just $5.95 too. These are just a small number of the natural cleaning products in our store that are plastic free and/or biodegradable.

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