Your Water Bottle Could Be Germier Than Your Kitchen Sink​

Your Water Bottle Could Be Germier Than Your Kitchen Sink​

May 13, 2024 —  In a world where hygiene is paramount, the notion of reusing a drinking cup day in, day out, without a single wash may sound repulsive. But pause for a moment and ask yourself: How diligently do you sanitize your trusty water bottle? According to experts, the ideal regimen involves a thorough scrub with soap and water every day, ideally after each use. Not doing so could make you sick. 

Just ask Lauren Garkow, a Los Angeles-based medical student, who realized that her dirty water bottle was the culprit behind her throat issues.

“I noticed there seemed to be a film on the inside, so I got a paper towel to scrub it and then noticed the mold,” said Garkow, 24. “I made sure to scrub all the way to the bottom, and the whole inside of the bottom was a molded film.”

Soon after, her throat issues resolved. 

“The biggest misconception [about reusable water bottles] is that they’re really safer than they are,” said Marianne Sumego, MD, an internal medicine specialist with Cleveland Clinic. “Folks feel like they can’t get sick from them, and they forget that it’s a drinking source — like every other glass we use.”  

Reusable water bottles are a hotbed for bacteria and mold since those germs thrive in moist environments, according to a new report from Cleveland Clinic.

“The amount of bacteria that can collect on your water bottle is often more bacteria than there might be in your kitchen sink and other surfaces that we regularly recognize as being dirty,” Sumego said. Remember: Rinsing your bottle with water is not enough. You need to scrub all the nooks and crannies of your bottle with soap and water, and do not forget to clean the removable pieces, as well. 

If you have symptoms of food poisoning or flu-like symptoms — such as the sniffles or congestion — and cannot figure out why, your reusable water bottle could be to blame. And the absence of mold in your bottle does not mean that your water bottle is germ-free, according to the report. You usually cannot see the bacteria, so stay diligent on your cleaning regimen. 

A few other keys: Have more than one water bottle. With our “grab-and-go” culture, it can seem challenging to make to time to scrub your bottle. Having two or more helps you save time, Sumego advised. When choosing a water bottle, stainless steel and glass water bottles are the most hygienic, since those surfaces “don’t promote as much stickiness for bacteria,” said Sumego. If you are sensitive to mold, opt for stainless steel, as it is usually higher in quality, and the buildup of bacteria and mold is less likely. Also, your dishwasher is a great, hassle-free way to keep your water bottle squeaky clean.

Written by Kelly Wairimu Davis, MS


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