What’s Really Living In Your Water Bottle?

You thought you were saving the environment with your trendy new water bottle, which is true, but it may be at the risk of your health.

It all comes down to the question of how often are you washing your water bottle.

If you can’t remember the last time, that says it all. Go wash it. According to Health Global News experts, you should be washing your reusable water bottle after every use.

Bacteria festers in our water bottles because they are just about the perfect place for micro-organisms to grow—it has created a warm environment, contains nutrients like food or saliva, and holds water says Canadian microbiologist and bestselling author Jason Tetro.

Many people assume that because only water is going into the bottle, there is no risk. But, that is far from the truth. Not washing your water bottle gives germs a chance to grow whether you’re using plastic, glass or metal bottles.

“Bacteria and other microbes can accumulate in the bottle — forming biofilms on the surfaces — and also on the opening of the bottle that is in contact with the mouth and hands,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Scott, a biology professor at Boston’s Simmons College.

A recent study by TreadmillReviews.ca found that the average water bottle has about 313,499 CFU (or colony-forming units of bacteria) compared to only 2,937 CFU found on a pet’s chew toy.

After studying 12 water bottles, the findings were as follows:

  • Slide-top water bottles carried the most germs at 933,340 CFU
  • Squeeze-top bottles had 161,971 CFU
  • Screw-top bottles had 159,060 CFU
  • Straw-top bottles had only 25.4 CFU

“The spot your lips touch is absolutely writhing with bacteria: over 900,000 CFU/sq cm on average,” according to the report.

The good news is that most of the environmental microbes are harmless, Scott said, but some bacteria are harmful such as staphylococci and streptococci (strep throat).

To avoid the bacterial growth, experts suggest washing with temperatures of 55 °C, using soap and a cloth or sponge being sure to reach the very bottom of your water bottle. Then, dry the bottle after rinsing it.

Good Housekeeping Institutes’s cleaning products director Carolyn E. Forté warns to pay close attention to the nooks and crannies of the lid as germs have been found in these caps even after a good washing.

PopSugar offers a few other suggestions for a thorough cleansing of your water bottle.

Getting into the habit of regularly washing your water bottle will prevent germs from growing and replicating, which keeps your water from tasting different and prevents risk of sickness. 

“It’s a little weird that people miss this when they would be unlikely to keep using a tea or coffee cup, for example, without washing it. Bottles can becomes contaminated from the water source itself and from the mouth and the hands,” Scott said.

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