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Monday
Jan032011

Cleaning water bottles made easy

Water bottles are not the easiest of items to clean inside because of their shape, and yet it is important to give your bottle a thorough clean at least once a week.

Bacteria can build up on the inside surface even when using plain water, and this is worsened if you use drinks containing sugar.

There are several popular cleaning methods, dish soap, vinegar, baking soda, or a combination of all three. But these are all somewhat of a hassle, and there is always the problem of leaving an unpleasant after taste in the bottle.

This is one I use and I believe is a far simpler method; use Efferdent tablets or another similar brand designed to clean dentures by soaking.

Once you get over your initial feelings of repulsion, think about it. These tablets are: A.) Designed to kill bacteria by soaking, no scrubbing required, B.) Made to remove stains and will not harm plastic, and C.) Safe to use and leave no unpleasant after taste.

What I do is fill my bottle right to the brim with hot water (From the faucet, not boiling.) Put two tablets in if the bottle hasn’t been cleaned for a while; one is okay if you are doing this on a regular basis.

Open the drinking nozzle and set it upside down on top of the bottle so the inside of the nozzle is soaking. Allow to soak at least 15 minutes; it is also safe and even better if you let it soak overnight.

After soaking, replace the top and squirt the solution out through the nozzle to further clean the inside. When the bottle is half empty, close the nozzle and shake vigorously. Empty the bottle, fill with clean tap water and repeat. When you are satisfied the bottle is thoroughly rinsed, it is ready for use.

A box of 120 tablets costing somewhere around $6 will last over a year if you are cleaning two water bottles a week. 

 

                          

Reader Comments (16)

I tell you a secret now...

I use bottles with large caps, like that one in your picture. I put them to the washing machine after every ride. My oldest bottle is four years old now. No odour, muck or side taste. I've been thinking of replacing it though, because the outside surface looks like crap from the use it has seen. Soaking them in anti-bacterial liquids is a ridiculous fuss.

I use "regular" program that heats water to 75C (167F). The "intense" program that goes up to 90C (194F) might melt the bottles, though.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTorben Putkonen

And I only use a sports drink that contains honey, lemon juice and salt. I only seldom drink plain water on my training rides. My experience is that I have not yet heard a reasonable justifications for these disinfecting baths.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTorben Putkonen

I just run mine through the dishwasher once a week. They seem to survive the experience just fine and it keeps them very clean.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Rumsby

After writing this piece I got to thinking about when I started racing in the early 1950s. There were no plastic bottles, they were spun aluminum with a cork for a stopper. You had to ride no hands to take a drink as you needed one hand to hold the bottle and the other to remove the cork.
The cork was attached to the bottle with a piece of string to prevent it from being accidentally dropped. The string went through a hole in the cork and was tied in a knot on the underside. I shudder to think of the germs that collected, and we had no dish washer so it was never properly cleaned.
Also on long distance time trials an aluminum bottle of warm, sweet tea was handed up by a helper. After taking a drink it would be thrown down at the side of the road, where it would be picked up, refilled and handed up to the next rider.
Somehow we survived.
Dave

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave Moulton

http://www.cleanbottle.com/

This was introduced at the Tour last year. Great idea. Wish I'd thought of it.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

They make brushes to clean baby bottles. They work on ours too. Check your dollar store.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Germs,Germs! But Dave, YOU and I are still alive! I used gluecose and water in my stinky metal bottle, washed it out once in a while,BUT never gave a thought to GERMS! Just like all the greasy foods etc, Maybe the NEW generation is TOOO health conscious! I always have a laf at Walmart when they supply sanatized towles to wipe the cart handles with! Maybe they should supply plastic bags to cover up in, to shop. John Crump

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

I use the Polar Bottle brand Insulated bottles. They have dimples on the inside liner which make cleaning somewhat difficult. I found the solution at a local dollar store....a $2 toilet bowl brush.

Soap and water then a quick swirling scrub is all it took to end my dilemma. A hot tap water rinse followed by a cold tap water rinse removes any undesired "flavors".

Not to worry, this special tool is kept clear of the facilities for obvious reasons!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRodney

I must be living on the gastronomic edge, since I never clean my water bottles to that extent. I only use plain water and the bottles live on a shelf in the garage. I just rinse 'em out with hot water from the tap, refill with cold water and away we go. Been doing that for decades now. I've thought about running 'em through the dishwasher, but never have. When stored on my shelf, the tops are closed and many times some water sits in it. You'd think I'd be dead by now..

My 11 year old son rides with a Camelback during our mountain bike rides - with plain water. If that isn't throughly cleaned, mold does grow in - which we had occur. Why that is - don't know. Type of plastic, hard to air completely out?

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

Yes, bottle brush is the way to go. I only use steel bottles, for a couple of reasons:
- easy to clean with a brush or dishwasher
- plastic tastes like crap; stainless is inert
- not going to wait for the next type of plastic to be declared carcinogenic
- no need for any cleaner but hot water and detergent
Sure they are heavier, more expensive and don't drain as quick, but I'm not one to ride much in my big ring so doubt it matters.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMr. S.

Hi Dave, Great Idea ! I also like the other suggestions from commentors too. I basically wash my plastic bottles with hot soapy tap water ( both the tops, inside, outside etc...) and rinse with hot, then cold tap water. Your idea is simple and I will give it a try. I have never been sick from my method, but I must admit if the bottles have been sitting a while and one smells the inside they do have a "plastic" funny odor. Once filled with water, I don't seem to taste anything other than the water. Our tap water's taste isn't wonderful, but I know folks who drink it regularly and say "it" doesn't taste bad. Since I just use plain water this works for me. However, if I used a sports drink or some other substitute fluid a different method might be the way to go. Thanks to you and everyone else for the great ideas. Brian

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

... and the Efferdent approach also works fabulously on thermos bottles, coffee carafes, or other containers where coffee and tea get brewed and stored. I just soak them overnight and, in the morning, the metal is so clean it looks new. I've never experienced an unpleasant aftertaste. I must say that I had not thought of using it on my water bottles though.

- Zeke

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZeke

I clean mine using a bay bottle brush and soak it in vinegar for a while. It really takes a while so sometimes when I am too tired and busy to clean my bottle, I wish there could be something faster.

But with your recommendations I might as well try. cleaning dentures... ugh! I really have to put that thing off my mind when I use that stuff.

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbeachbody coach

I have a brush to clean my bottles because i have so many! But when i dont, i just separate all the pieces and soak them in hot, soapy water. I dont really have much to clean because i only drink water in my bottles!

July 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Just tried this last night and it works really well. The tablet I've used has flavoured the water a little but it's not unpleasant and it's better than soap or, god forbid, bleach. I definitely prefer this to scrubbing since I read somewhere that scrubbing can damage the surface of the plastic and cause toxins to leach into the water o.O...also it's a lot less work!

Thanks

July 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScipiana

Hello, I have a little baby of six months. Now I have decided to start feed through bottle. So I think that this product is amazing for my baby's health. Thanks..

May 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersorinr regenstraif

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