How Do You Disinfect a Water Bottle?

How Do You Disinfect a Water Bottle?

While you can reuse water bottles, they may host bacteria and mold over time. However, how do you disinfect a water bottle while ensuring you can safely drink from it? We're sharing the best disinfecting methods to remove harmful organisms in your drinking bottles.

How Do You Disinfect a Water Bottle?

To disinfect a water bottle, you can soak it in hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, or bleach solution. Another option is to use water bottle cleaning tablets or make your own disinfecting wipes. After that, you still have to rinse the bottle thoroughly then let it air dry.

Moist can contribute to bacteria growth, and moisture is inevitable in drinking bottles. While cleaning a water bottle in a dishwasher physically removes dirt, proper disinfection can destroy harmful germs. 

Woman holding the water bottle through its paracord handle

Stainless steel bottles are incredibly handy. However, despite their convenience, you still have to clean them, especially when you bring them outside. Get into the habit of disinfecting water bottles using these methods.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide

There may be instances where there's still a bit of slime or bad odor in a water bottle after cleaning it with soap and water. In such circumstances, you can disinfect a bottle using hydrogen peroxide. 

Rinse the bottle with hot water and pour about 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. Put the cap back, give it a vigorous shake, then rinse with warm water. 

Even the food industry uses 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide to kill microorganisms and bacteria in food packaging components. You can rest assured, it's safe to disinfect water bottles using hydrogen peroxide.

Steep in a Vinegar and Water Solution

Disinfecting means you apply chemicals or acidic substances to remove harmful organisms in a water bottle. Vinegar is 5% acetic acid, making it an all-natural cleaner for killing household bacteria. 

After washing a bottle using soapy water, rinse it well, then fill the bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water. Give it a few shakes before letting the solution sit overnight. Rinse the bottle thoroughly in the morning using warm water to remove excess vinegar.

Diluting vinegar with water is particularly good for cleaning stainless steel water bottles because vinegar cuts through the bacteria without damaging the bottle's material. You can also use concentrated vinegar by pouring it on a sponge or paper towel, then scrub the bottle directly.

Scrub with Baking Soda

In one day, you will touch things like doorknobs or your phone, then unconsciously wipe the mouth using your hands. You will use the same hands to uncap the water bottle and then scrape your lips in the bottle opening.

A couple holding water bottles while standing near a boulder of rocks

A study shows that these unintentional movements can cause 300,000 colony-forming units of bacteria to grow per square centimeter of your water bottle. However, with proper washing methods and disinfection as simple as using baking soda, you can eliminate infectious bacteria. 

The particles of baking soda provide a gentle abrasion without leaving scratch marks in a stainless steel water bottle. For stubborn grime and mildew, baking soda and water solution is a more potent disinfectant.

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the bottle and fill the remainder with water.
  2. Give it a few shakes. You can also use the solution to scrub the cap or straw.
  3. Let the solution sit overnight, then rinse well with warm water.
  4. If there's still some form of dirt or odor, you can add a vinegar solution to break down the stubborn organic compounds. The vinegar's acid can break down baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide gas to dissolve contaminants.
  5. If you have a dishwasher-friendly drinking bottle, you can also run it through a cycle before drying.

Invest in Water Bottle Cleaning Tablets

If you can't withstand the smell of vinegar or bleach, you can use cleaning tablets to disinfect water bottles. Fill the bottle with water, drop the tablet, shake well, and let the solution sit for 30 minutes. After rinsing and drying, you can use the bottle again.

Easy to use, bottle cleaning tablets dissolve in water. This creates effervescent bubbles that power through dirt and odor. Most cleaning tablets contain baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, which are natural ingredients for cleaning and deodorizing.

Use Disinfecting Wipes

Using disinfecting wipes is an excellent alternative if you don't have access to running water, especially when spending time outdoors or bringing drinking water to a hike.

There are available disinfecting wipes on the market. However, you can make your own disinfecting wipes using household materials.

  1. Mix 4 teaspoons of bleach and 32 fluid ounces of water in a plastic or glass container. You may need to double this measurement depending on the size and absorbency of the towels.
  2. Place cloth or paper towels in a different container. Pour the mixture into this container, soaking every part for at least 5 minutes.
  3. If you don't have bleach, you can pour 60% to 90% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol into an airtight container. 
  4. Submerge paper towels or reusable cloth in the container. 
  5. Soak the wipes for 5 minutes before using them.
  6. Disinfect the bottle using the disinfecting wipes. If you don't have enough water for rinsing, you can use alcohol-free wipes instead.

Woman sitting near a stream and drinking from a stainless steel water bottle

Related Questions

How Often Should I Wash a Reusable Water Bottle?

You should wash reusable water bottles using soap and water once a day. You can then disinfect the bottle at least once a week or more frequently when you take the bottle outside, or you've been sick.

What Happens When I Drink from a Moldy Bottle?

When you drink from a moldy bottle you may not feel adverse effects because the body's acid is strong enough to kill pathogens like mold. However, if you have a weak immune system, you may experience nausea, cramping, or diarrhea after drinking from a moldy bottle.


There are several ways to disinfect a water bottle, including using hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, bleach, vinegar, and bottle cleaning tablets. You can even create your own disinfecting wipes using household cleaning materials. Whichever method you choose, it will keep germs at bay and keep your bottle fresh and clean.

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