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Obviously a daily wash with washing up liquid and water is a good start... But with all the use a water bottle gets and the mouthpiece being exposed to the elements whilst cycling through who knows what - are there any other steps you take to ensure your water bottles are clean and hygienic?

And a bonus question - do you use the same bottle forever, or do you replace them after a certain period?

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This question is a forum-style post, asking for multiple answers. Perhaps ask for the method that does the best job, or requires the least effort? –  Neil Fein Jul 1 '11 at 22:47
Obviously rinse well and dry your bottle after using warm washing up liquid, rinse to get rid of the chemical taste. –  Ambo100 Jul 2 '11 at 14:21
Yeesh! Look at answer number 2 with 10 points. Yeesh! Water bottles are the exact same thing as washing dishes! Put them in the dishwasher just like Tom77 says. It's not complicated! –  user313 Sep 7 '11 at 7:22

10 Answers 10

up vote 6 down vote accepted

A teaspoon of baking soda and warm water, is your best bet. No nasty after taste at all.

Cheap and very effective.

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I wash mine in a dishwasher. Mostly because that requires the least effort.

I've had to replace bottles occasionally, I find that eventually the nozzle on the cap starts to leak.

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Your answer is totally sensible. After many years of throwing bottles into the dishwasher, I have yet to become sick from the water bottle. I guess it could happen?.... –  user313 Sep 7 '11 at 7:29

Water bottles?? Clean and hygienic?? If you can scrape off the crust of road mud on the spout they're clean enough.

(Actually, I just rinse mine out in very hot tap water, though for a brand new one I'll use a few drops of dish soap to help get rid of the manufacturing oils and the plastic taste. Sometimes for new bottles I'll fill them with hot water and just let sit a few hours, then empty, to get rid of the taste.)

The bottles generally fail in the cap seal or nozzle eventually, at which time I discard them.

[Seriously, I rarely clean water bottles. If one has set over winter half-full of water I'll put a little effort into cleaning out the resulting scum, otherwise I just rinse with hot water occasionally (and never on a week-long bike ride -- just fill and go).]

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As long as the inside is clean, I really don't worry much about how mine looks on the outside. My once white bottle is now mostly black from road dirt. I do wish they just sold the tops though. So much plastic going to waste, even if it is recycled. –  Kibbee Jul 6 '11 at 0:28

When I'm on a cycling holiday I take a tube of cleaning tablets for false teeth with me. Insert a tablet, fill the bottle with water, let it soak overnight, rinse, done.

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If you don't have a dishwasher, soak them in a water/bleach solution for a few minutes.

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Warming and freezing

I was just reading an article about bottle cleaning and although hot water is very good at preventing microbes from thriving, freezing your empty bottles is also effective. Home appliance freezers freeze them slowly which kills microbes as compared to lab microbe freezing which is done very fast just hibernates them.

The other positive side of freezing your bottles is also that they're very cold so they don't warm your cold drinks up for that fraction of degree when filled.

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I'm pretty much in the camp with Dan Hicks. First, I only put water in 'em. Second, when I'm done riding, I pop the top and let 'em air dry.
I can't recall ever having "cleaned" a water bottle, other than during my mountain-biking days when sand, mud, crud, and assorted dead spiders would encrust same. I solved that by going to a hydration pack.

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Most effective for plastic/glass bottles is to leave by a UV lamp for 10-15 min! or if you can get the the UV bulb inside the bottle 1 min is more than enough :)

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May you could explain why this will clean the bottle? Do you have any references? –  Uooo Apr 3 '13 at 9:19
Also explain how this doesn't damage the plasic. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 3 '13 at 10:59

Hygiene standards can be a very personal point of view. Whatever it takes to enjoy staying hydrated is important to recognize here. For example, the most interesting advice I saw posted for a century ride recently was to place cucumber slices inside your water bottle to counteract the bottle taste. I keep my metal and plastic water bottles clean just as I would with other hand-wash dishes, no extra effort.

Having lived in southern California and toted water bottled thru the desert on extended camping trips, and drank the "salad water" out of metal canteens and plastic jugs in 100F weather...I learned not to worry so much about it.

(I always let my new water bottles soak in a baking soda solution to get the plastic taste out.)

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I occasionally put a few drops of lemon juice in my bottles before a ride. Makes the water taste a bit better warm. Especially helpful if you pick up water along the way that's a bit "off" tasting -- a few drops of lemon helps it quite a bit. –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 6 '11 at 11:51

If you have concerns about dirt on mouthpiece, you can get something like this. The cap flips open and you can easily use your teeth to open.

I use something similar to this (not exact) and this is just an image from google to show the idea.

enter image description here

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