Your Water Bottle Is Disgusting, FYI

woman drinking from water bottle

You know that water bottle you proudly carry everywhere? Kudos to you for remembering to hydrate, but, um, you might as well be toting around a little ... toilet.


Sorry to be the bearer of repulsive news, but it's true. swabbed the lids of a dozen reusable water bottles used by athletes, then sent the samples to a lab.

The disturbing find: The average water bottle contains nearly 314,000 CFU (colony-forming units) of bacteria.

To put that in perspective, the average pet toy has just under 3,000 CFU.

All together now: Ewwwwww.

(But hey, if it makes you feel any better, your toothbrush holder is home to even MORE germs -- nearly 332,000.)

Surprisingly, the type of water bottle had an effect on the number of bacteria it harbored. Ones with a slide-top were by far the worst offenders, with close to a million microscopic creepy-crawly things. Squeeze-tops and screw-tops hovered between 159,000–161,000 CFU. And the best and "cleanest" choice was the straw-top.

But less bacteria doesn't necessarily mean "better." While half the bacteria on the slide-top bottles were considered the "bad" kind that can cause infections of the skin, lungs, and blood -- not to mention resist antibiotics -- 99 percent of the germs found on squeeze-top bottles were disgusting. (And 98 percent of the screw-tops were that nasty as well.)

So what to do with this info besides post it to FB and horrify all your friends?

Because let's be real here. A girl gots to drink.

More from CafeMom: 8 Ways to Drink Water and Give Yourself a 'Facelift'

A few suggestions:

1. Go for a straw-top bottle. Less convenient when you run? Big, bulky, and sort of dorky? Yes. But far less germy.

2. Choose stainless steel over plastic. Won't that make long runs fun? (Hard no.) But stainless steel is naturally antibacterial. And easier to clean (more on that below!).

3. Keep your stash o' bottles CLEAN. Hand wash plastic -- a LOT. A bottle brush will get all those nooks and crannies which are fine on English muffins but nasty hideouts for bacteria everywhere else.

Stainless steel vessels can get a regular run-through in the dishwasher. 

Still notice a manky taste or odor? Try adding one teaspoon of bleach and one teaspoon of baking soda to the bottle, fill it with H2O, and let sit overnight. Rinse it out super-well the next day and let it air dry, and, voilà! Germs be gone. For now, at least.

Also, get out of the habit of leaving half-empty bottles in your gym bag or car. You're basically just turning your bottle into a germ incubator, which is neither tasty nor refreshing.


Image via Ralf Maassen (DT Europe)/Shutterstock

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