Reusable water bottles are here to stay, and quite rightly so. Who wants to be responsible for increasing pollution and landfill waste? But what do reusable water bottles have to do with infection prevention and control? A lot, actually. According to this article in Food Protection Trends:

“Consumers regularly refill bottles, without a corresponding effort at cleaning them …. This ability to refill and reuse water bottles come with an implied mandate to clean the bottles on a regular basis.”

Sun, Kim, Behnke, Almanza, Greene, Miller and Schindler, 2017

How dirty do water bottles get?

The contamination level of a water bottle can be affected by many factors, such the bottle material, the design (how easy is it to clean effectively), how often it is refilled and used, the type of beverage, the cleaning method and the cleaning frequency.

Germs make their way onto your reusable water bottle in many ways, such as dirty hands touching the top, or just filling it (contact with a dirty tap), your mouth on the opening, or through the backwash of saliva as you drink.

If you do not clean your bottle on regular basis, inside and out, it could become a perfect breeding ground for all types of ‘germs’.  In ‘Is your water bottle the perfect host for germs?, it’s pointed out that, “Unwashed bottles can accumulate bacteria and can be dirtier than dog bowls and kitchen sinks, for example. Some of the bacteria can be harmful, and as a result illness and infections can occur”. In that same article, Dr Bruni Nazario also adds that, “Several types of bacteria can be found on water bottles; essentially, they’re the same ones you’ll find on your hands or in your mouth”.

How should I clean water bottles?

So, how do you minimise the risk of infection when using your water bottle? Two main ways come to mind: effective hand hygiene and the effective cleaning of your drink bottle.

Hand hygiene has been shown to prevent respiratory illness. We all know when to wash our hands, but do we fully understand how? It is not just about the hand hygiene product, it mostly about effective hand hygiene technique. The washing and rubbing of hands, and the amount of rinsing in particular, are important.

But, I digress. While hand hygiene is important, washing your water bottle frequently and thoroughly is the key. How often may depend on how often you handle it, where you go with it, and where it is stored at work and at home. However, the general consensus is washing the inside and outside daily with detergent and warm water, and making sure the lid/stopper gets washed as well. Remember to rinse it thoroughly before refilling. 

Water bottles made from stainless steel or glass can be put through the dishwasher weekly, however, they will still need to be hand washed with detergent and water daily.

Washing your reusable water bottle frequently, as well as your hands, will help prevent you from getting sick, as well as ensuring you’re not drinking water from something that is dirtier than a dog bowl!

Like to know more about how healthcare workers can reduce infections risks at home? You can read about this topic and more at on our blog. Have questions about managing infection risks in your aged care facility? Contact us for a free 20-minute consultation.