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5 min read

Switching to a reusable water bottle is one of the easiest ways to ditch single use plastic in your daily life, plus with a bottle of water to hand it seems much easier to stay hydrated, but if you’re anything like us, it’s very possible you don’t keep that water bottle as clean as it should be! 

So if you’ve ever wondered how often you should clean your bottle and the best way to keep it clean - we’re going to break it down for you. Your water bottle is going to be so clean and hygienic and that water is going to taste so much better, we promise. 

How often should you clean your water bottle?

In an ideal world we recommend you clean your bottle after every use with hot soapy water, if you just use your bottle for water you can probably get away with cleaning it every 3 to 5 days but if you’re using it for anything else like coffee, smoothies or fruit juice, you really want to be cleaning it daily. A deeper monthly clean with baking soda or vinegar will deal with mineral build up, lingering smells and mould or mildew problems. 

Daily clean

For an everyday clean you can simply use hot soapy water. Fill your bottle halfway and give it a good swill. Getting past the spout of some bottles is the hardest part of cleaning it so to get inside to give your bottle a good scrub you’ll find it much easier with a bottle brush. With a wider mouth bottle you can do without or use a regular dish brush. Make sure you give the cap and under the seal and the threads a good going over too. 

What about a deeper clean?

We are pretty biased towards stainless steel over plastic here at Elephant Box and one major reason is that its so much easier to keep clean. The chromium layer on the surface of stainless steel gives it a naturally anti-microbial resistance and creates a smooth surface with no micro-pores that harbour bacteria and mould. Ever noticed discolouration in a plastic water bottle or mould growing on the inside? Or if you put tomato soup in a plastic tub and it stains orange forever?  The reason for this is that on a micro-level, the plastic surface is open to foreign bodies and particles. Which is how stuff can leach into plastic, and toxic chemicals can also leach out. Not an issue with stainless steel! However, even with stainless steel after time, minerals build up and…smells. This is when a more thorough clean is called for. Especially if, like we mentioned earlier, you like to switch your drinks up in your bottle - tea, flavoured waters, coffee etc. 

So, how often should I deep clean my water bottle?

If you’re a bit of a slacker, like us, you'll probably wind up doing this monthly, but to keep your drink tasting fresh and your bottle sanitary we recommend you do this weekly. 

What can I use to clean my water bottle naturally?

 There’s several DIY and natural options that you can use with stuff that you probably already have in the house. The three options that we like are baking soda, vinegar or Milton. 

Baking soda 

Baking soda is great for a deep clean. Also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, it has disinfectant, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and is excellent at removing bad smells. So, using baking soda to clean your water bottle will get rid of mildew, mineral build up, stains and those lingering odours. 

Put one teaspoon of baking soda in your empty bottle and fill with warm water, give it a good scrub and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes or overnight and then rinse out with cold water


Bacteria can build up in moist conditions and sometimes you will see mildew and mould appearing inside your bottle. Pretty unpleasant but there is an easy fix. The best way to disinfect and sterilise your bottle naturally is with distilled vinegar. It’s non-toxic, mildly acidic, a good disinfectant and a fantastic DIY cleaning product all round the house. 

Put 2 tablespoons of distilled (white) vinegar in your bottle and fill half way with warm water. Put the cap on and give it a good shake. Use your brush to give it a good scrub, then rinse with water and leave to dry completely before using. 

Top tip: Don’t use any other type of vinegar as it may linger on in an unwelcome manner! No-one wants their water smelling like chips.


When things go bad! 

Either that stale coffee is smell is just too overpowering or things have been left a little too long and things have got pretty funky in your bottle. Maybe you’ve left the bottle for ages in the car or at the bottom of a bag. It smells really bad and you can see lots of mould inside! Don't worry - you can return your bottle to its former glory with these method below.

Number one rule. Don’t use bleach. It's not made for human consumption. Instead you can use hydrogen peroxide or Milton sterilising liquid. It’s not that easy to find hydrogen peroxide over the counter in small quantities but you can pick up Milton in the baby aisle of your local supermarket or pharmacy. Milton is totally safe and whilst researching this blog we found out that you can even use it to sterilise water. 

To clean your bottle with Milton put a teaspoon in the bottom of your empty water bottle and fill with warm water. Leave overnight to soak, and in the morning give it a good scrub with hot soapy water and rinse. 

How do I clean caps and straws?  

These monthly cleans are great for caps too. To deep clean caps you can make up a bowl of the vinegar, baking soda or Milton solution outlined above and soak overnight, then give them a good scrub. For straws you’ll want to invest in a straw cleaning brush too. 

What about the dishwasher?

Don’t assume you can put your water bottle in the dishwasher! They can be really hot! If your water bottle is plastic it’s not a great idea to heat it up as it can release harmful chemicals, even if it is BPA free. Stainless steel is usually fine to go in the dishwasher on the top rack (where it’s coolest) but we recommend not putting coloured bottles in the dishwasher as they may lose their lustre. Check with the manufacturer of your bottle to see if it can go in the dishwasher - if so put it on the top rack but take off any silicone seals first.

Drinking water is an essential part of a healthy life and drinking from a reusable water is great for the environment so we hope this guide helps you keep your water bottle in tip top condition and with you for life.

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