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  • Writer's pictureAlora Bourne

Is it time to clean your water bottle?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Let's all give our water bottles a sniff.


Huh? What do you mean my water bottle shouldn’t smell like that?


Let’s be honest, all of us should probably clean our Nalgenes/ water reservoirs/ Hydroflasks more often than we do. But when should we clean our water bottles and reservoirs? Everyday? When it smells? When you see black goop growing? All of the above?






How often should you clean your water bottle?


Most sources online will tell you to clean your water bottle or reservoir everyday, if you’re using it daily. But if we’re realistic with ourselves, we know that’s not gonna happen. So how often should you clean it, and how often will you actually clean it?


If it starts to get a bit stinky, it’s recommended that you clean it. To prevent it from getting stinky in the future, giving it a good cleaning once a week should suffice. If you’re only using your water reservoir a few times throughout the year, cleaning it after each use would be a good idea to prevent it from getting smelly for the next use.


If it’s gotten to the point where black goop is growing, you should definitely clean it. You may notice your O-ring (that little clear silicone ring on the lid) is the first thing that starts to grow other things. It's a good idea to clean or replace the O-ring if it develops black things growing on it.


How to clean your bottle/reservoir.


If you're doing a routine clean for your water bottle, warm water and soap should do the trick. Using a brush that can reach to the bottom and around the sides can help as well. If you’re using a Nalgene, it would be best to avoid tossing it in the dishwater because they have been known to melt if the water is too hot.


If you have icky black mold growing on your O-ring, you want to clean that right away. When this happens you can try cleaning it with hot water and soap, or some baking soda and vinegar sitting overnight if it’s not wanting to come off. If you’re still unable to get the mold off, oftentimes you can get a replacement O-ring by contacting the manufacturer.


Cleaning a hydration reservoir can be a bit more tricky. Since they are soft sided and have a big hose, it can be difficult to make sure you’re getting into all the nooks and crannies. Using a brush can help with scrubbing, and having a long straw-cleaning brush can be extra helpful when cleaning the hose. You can also buy cleaning kits that usually have the brushes you need to get a proper clean!


If your bottle/reservoir is so dirty that you just don’t feel soap will be sufficient (though in most cases it is) you can also buy cleaning tablets that soak in your bottle and can make cleaning a bit quicker.



With all water bottles and reservoirs, make sure that they air dry completely before you store them! If you don’t do this, you’ll probably have a stinky surprise waiting for you the next time you bring it out.


Want more options for you water systems? Come by Gear Hut to check out what's in stock! Feel free to ask any questions about cleaning your water bottle or hydration packs with one of our experts while you're there.



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