How to Properly Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

Last Updated

August 11, 2021

While reviewing the top reusable water bottles we were surprised to find that the many of them are not dishwasher safe. In fact, the majority of the double insulated stainless steel bottles we’ve reviewed are hand wash only. The only exceptions we’ve found are Yeti and HydroFlask (bottles made in 2020 and later). You can learn why most double walled stainless bottles are not dishwasher friendly in our other article, Dishwasher Safe Stainless Steel Bottles. Plastics fare a little better, but even so not all of the plastic bottles can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Before making any assumptions, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s directions. While everyone would probably prefer a dishwasher safe bottle, for most people it will not be a make or break decision. There are a number of great bottles out there that require hand washing, such as S’well and Simple Modern.

With the right tools, hand washing does not have to be an arduous task:

  • Consider picking up a bottle brush at the same time as you get your bottle, especially if you have a narrow mouth bottle. There are a number of styles of brushes available including variety packs of different diameters which would be helpful if you need to clean multiple bottle styles. 
  • If your bottle has a straw, you should also purchase a straw brush. These small metal brushes fit inside the straw, and with some scrubbing, remove residue from hydration mixers.  
  • Cleaners such as dish soap, baking soda, vinegar or specialized tablets are also essential.
Having the right tools will make bottle cleaning a breeze.

Cleaning techniques vary and should depend on your tools at hand, the state of the bottle and the amount of time you can devote.

  • The most common method is using dish soap and the bottle brush to scrape the interior and then rinse. This can be repeated for a deeper clean.
  • If you do not have a bottle brush, try adding ¼ cup vinegar to your bottle, filling the rest with water and soaking overnight. Thoroughly rinse the bottle with clean water the next day.
  • Another natural alternative is using baking soda: add ¼ cup of baking soda and boiling water to the bottle, let sit for an hour and then scrub out. The baking soda will serve as a light abrasive and can help remove some of the buildup that may not come off with just a soap and brush. Check with the manufacturer before trying this with a plastic bottle.
  • The third option are cleaning tablets, such as Bottle Bright, designed specifically for bottles that are not dishwasher safe. These tablets can be dissolved in your bottle with water, left for 30 minutes and then rinsed out. In that time the cleaning solution will remove any lingering tastes or buildup. The only downside we see is the additional cost. It’s not a product we’d use everyday but a deep clean with them twice a month seems like a good idea.

Hand washing just takes a few tools and a little more planning. If you are using your bottle for something besides water, like coffee or wine, we recommend rinsing the bottle right after use. Also, remember to dry your bottle before you store it: a damp bottle is more likely to grow mold. If you have a bottle that requires hand washing, don’t be discouraged! The above cleaning methods can be just as effective as a dishwasher.

Go Purchase

Products mentioned in this article

Bottle Brush

Straw Brush

Bottle Bright Cleaner

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