I Had No Idea I Should Be Cleaning My Kids' Water Bottles Daily

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 
Julia Meslener for Scary Mommy and Domain Pictures/Pexel

OK, be real with me. When was the last time you cleaned the reusable water bottles in your household? No, I don’t mean just pouring out the water, giving it a quick rinse, and setting it down on the counter for tomorrow. I mean, soap and water, scrubbing, the whole nine yards.

I’ll go first. The last time I did it was three days ago. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? But that’s only because I recently made a resolution to clean the bottles much more frequently than I used to, which was – wait for it – once every few weeks. If that.

Now listen, I’m not a messy or unsanitary person. I clean my house from top to bottom weekly, scrub toilets and sweep floors almost daily. My kids bathe regularly, wash their hands constantly, etc. But I guess everyone needs that one thing that they just don’t really tend to as perfectly as they should, that one thing they let go of to stay sane. And for me it’s been those damn water bottles.

I had justified it saying, “Oh, it’s just water I put in there. Rinsing out is enough.” But when I’ve actually gone in to clean the suckers, it’s been a different story. We use water bottles with removable straws, and those times that I clean the straws … well, it’s pretty freaking disgusting what I see.

Here’s a pic I snapped a few weeks ago – after an inordinate amount of time had passed between cleanings – and around the time I resolved to finally clean the bottles more consistently.

Ready for it?

Wendy Wisner

Totally barftastic. I felt like such a horrible mom when I saw what this straw had become.

I began to research my face off, and it turns out that not only should I be washing the water bottles and all their parts with more than just plain water, but I should be doing it much more frequently than I even expected I would need to.

Yep, according to experts, you’re supposed to be thoroughly washing your water bottles DAILY. As in, every single freaking day. I can’t be the only one who had no clue.

“Ideally, it is a good idea to clean your water bottle at the end of each day,” Eric Hansen, Director of Nalgene Outdoors, explains to HuffPost.

And it doesn’t matter that it’s “just water” in the bottles. As microbiologist Miryam Z. Wahrman, tells Reader’s Digest, germs and microbes – including bacteria, viruses, and fungi – thrive in moist, warm environments like water bottles.

“Contaminated water bottles can transmit pretty much anything you can catch from casual contact with another person,” says Wahrman. “That’s not to say that every germ you encounter will make you sick, because we have immunity and other barriers to germs, like our stomach acid, for instance, that kill microbes. But being exposed needlessly to unknown microbes could increase your risk of disease.”


And again, just rinsing with water and calling it a day won’t suffice.

“You’ll want to use soap and hot water to get rid of germs,” Good Housekeeping Institute’s Carolyn E. Forté, tells HuffPost. “And pay special attention to the nooks and crannies in the cap. Germs have been found in these caps even after washing if they aren’t washed thoroughly enough.”

I suspect that I’m not the only one who has totally neglected this task. I mean, do you know anyone who seriously washes their water bottles every single damn day?

I think part of the problem is that it isn’t that easy to clean these bottles, especially the bottom of the bottle and the bottle caps and/or straws. I’ve found that investing in a few bottle-scrubbers can really save the day.

They’re not fancy or anything, but these tools are saving my life … or at least making the thankless task of cleaning out my family’s water bottles that much easier and more efficient.

Wendy Wisner

Here’s the thing. Reusable water bottles are wonderful, and something we all should be using. We all need to be drinking water regularly, and it can be hard to accomplish that while we’re on the go. My kids bring their water bottles to school, and keep a water bottle by their bedside.

Using reusable bottles, as opposed to plastic bottles, should be a no-brainer considering how important it is that we all embrace a more eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle ASAP.

But let’s be honest. Life is busy AF, and it can be hard to keep up with things like cleaning out water bottles. It’s understandable why so many of us have let this task fall to the wayside.

Maybe we don’t have to go the the extreme and scrub down each and every “nook and cranny” daily. I am not sure that I will be whipping out my bottle brushes and scouring the bottoms of the bottles and the inside of the straws every single day from now on.

But I am going to make sure that I do so much more regularly than I used to, and that soap and water do make their way into the bottles most days. Because as much as I want to cut myself lots of slack and let things go, allowing my kids to drink icky, germy water is where I draw the line.

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