How to Clean a Contigo Water Bottle: A Step-By-Step Guide

Clean a Contigo water bottle

How to Clean a Contigo Water Bottle: A Step-By-Step Guide

Contigo is one of the most popular manufacturers of reusable water bottles on the market. And many people have been using them for a while now.

And a reusable water bottle has many different advantages; health, environment, and even money-wise. These advantages are so good that more and more people seem to recognize the need to move away from disposable water bottles.

But a reusable water bottle needs to be adequately cleaned. And With recent studies suggesting that our bottle can be dirtier than a dog bowl or even a toilet seat for that matter, we need to understand how to clean our Contigo water bottle step by step.

There are different techniques and ways to clean a Contigo water bottle, and I will go through each and every one of them.

So without further ado, let’s take a look.

How to Clean a Contigo Water Bottle

Taking a more in-depth look at the Contigo water bottles, we will see that there is a great variety of different models. There are differently shaped bottles, bottles made from different materials, and so much more.

This is why I need to make an important distinction between the different materials like glass, plastic, and metal. I will also take the bottles apart and talk about cleaning the different parts of your Contigo bottle.

That way, we can quite literally leave no stone unturned.

What you will need:

  • Warm water;
  • Liquid dish soap;
  • Baking soda, white vinegar, bleach, alcohol; and
  • Bottle cleaning brush, a Q-tip, a pipe cleaner, a kitchen sponge; and
  • A large bowl or a glass jar.

* Of course, you will not necessarily need every single item on this list. As here, I have summarized all the things you will need across the different cleaning techniques and methods I discuss below.

How to Clean a Plastic Contigo Water Bottle

Plastic Contigo water bottle

Plastic water bottles are usually the most widely used ones because they are very cheap and super convenient. Who wouldn’t like one? Especially since they don’t normally contain the harmful BPA disposable plastic bottles do.

But plastic can be somewhat tricky to clean.

A good example is cleaning Tupperware containers. And some of these can be such a pain to clean. I’ve had one that was so hard to clean that I literally was considering just replacing it after one use.

Of course, the good thing is that you probably don’t use your Contigo plastic water bottle to keep soup or spaghetti in it, so we will not have to deal with as hard stains or odors. But there are a few things we need to know.

How to clean plastic Contigo water bottles in 4 steps:

This method is super easy and readily available. Everything you will need can be found in your home.

  • Step 1: Fill the bottle with some warm water;
  • Step 2: Add a drop or two of liquid soap;
  • Step 3: Use a bottle cleaning brush or a sponge to scrub the bottle; and
  • Step 4: Rinse the bottle thoroughly and leave it to air dry.

Even if you don’t have a bottle cleaning brush or sponge, you can use your old toothbrush instead. The cleaning surface of a toothbrush is a little smaller, but it can do for an outstanding cleaning job.

This method can be used for cleaning both the interior and the exterior of a Contigo plastic water bottle like the Contigo Jackson or the Contigo AUTOSEAL plastic water bottles.

And if you are dealing with stronger stains or odors, make sure to check the section where I talk about how to deep clean a Contigo water bottle bellow.

How to Clean a Metal Contigo Water Bottle

metal water bottle with cleaning kit

Stainless-steel water bottles are a lot easier to clean compared to plastic bottles. The problem with plastic is that it tends to retain some of the flavors and odors of what is being kept inside. This may be a deal-breaker for some, especially if coffee and tea drinkers. But stainless-steel is much better.

How to clean a stainless-steel Contigo water bottle in 4 steps:

  • Step 1: Fill the bottle with some warm water;
  • Step 2: Add a drop or two of liquid soap;
  • Step 3: Use a soft bottle cleaning brush or a sponge to scrub the bottle; and
  • Step 4: Rinse the bottle thoroughly and leave it to air dry.

This is all you need to do in order to clean a stainless-steel Contigo bottle. You can use this method for both the outside and inside walls.

While cleaning the walls of your bottle, be careful not to use any abrasive materials that may damage the coating of the bottle.

If you own a dishwasher, you may be tempted to clean the bottle with it. This is doable. All you need to do is place the bottle in the top compartment in the upside-down position without the lid.

However, not all stainless-steel water bottles are going to be dishwasher-safe.

Make sure to check for confirmation about the particular model you are using.

Some people prefer to pour in boiling water inside the bottle in order to clean it. This is a neat method that can be used, as well.

How to Clean a Glass Contigo Water Bottle

glass bottle water

If you can put your hands on a glass water bottle, I would say do so. Glass is recognized as one of the best all-around materials for storing food or water.

Glass does not transfer any odors or flavors into your water.

Glass is also super easy to clean since it is a non-porous material; so it does not absorb any stains or gunk. Glass water bottles can be used time and again without having to worry.

The only downside?

Well, glass is heavier compared to plastic, and it is breakable.

How to clean your glass Contigo water bottle?

When it comes to cleaning a glass water bottle, the good news is that usually, they are dishwasher safe. So all you need to do is place them in your dishwasher and run a regular washing program. This is as good as it can get.

However, before doing so, please make sure that your particular model is rated as dishwasher-safe just to be on the safe side.

And here’s how to hand wash your glass Contigo water bottle:

  • Step 1: Fill the glass water bottle with a little warm water;
  • Step 2: Add some liquid dish soap;
  • Step 3: Use a cleaning brush to scrub the inside of the bottle; and
  • Step 4: Rinse thoroughly and leave to air dry.

Alternatively, you can also use some baking soda with warm water to clean the glass water bottle.

One of the good things about glass is that it is significantly easier to clean compared to plastic or even stainless-steel in some cases because it does not absorb stains and odors, and you can easily see if there are any dirty spots.

How to Clean the Contigo Kids Water Bottle

Kids Water Bottle

I decided to do a separate section on cleaning Contigo kids’ water bottles.


Because they have proven to be a rather tricky and controversial topic.

These are the bottles our kids will regularly drink from, for one, and we need to provide them with the best water bottle possible. So I cannot overlook the fact that there are some concerns with Contigo’s kids’ water bottles.

There was even an important recall of 5.7 million kids’ water bottles over a potential choking hazard (the silicone spout may detach, which is posing a choking hazard). And secondly, there are a few worrying facts about them that you may need to keep in mind if you already have one.

To clean a Contigo kids water bottle, you can check out this video from Contigo themselves:

Unfortunately, even though the cleaning recommendations given in the video are sound, there is something that has been overlooked, and people have discovered.

And here is the thing.

How Do I Remove the Top Portion of a Contigo Bottle to Clean?

“Why would I want to remove the top portion of the bottle?” you may ask.

People have discovered that a lot of mold tends to form and accumulate under and around the silicon gasket where the straw goes in. This is not just disturbing but also a latent health hazard.

That would be okay if we were able to clean that spot, but as it stands with some models, this is almost impossible to do so.

To clean that area of the Contigo bottle where all the mold accumulates, you need to remove the top portion of it. However, in doing so, you are going to face another problem – usually, this poses a risk of damaging the top part of the bottle beyond repair.

You can check this excellent video, which goes into detail ho to remove that top portion of the cap and what are the risks associated with doing so.

As you can see, the fact that we might not be able to reach those areas to clean the mold is a real concern.

If you have to deal with the same situation the way I see it, you have two options:

  • Risk irreversibly damaging the water bottle by removing the spout and cleaning the are; or
  • Trying to deep clean the lid with a stronger cleaning solution;

I get more in-depth about how to deep clean your Contigo water bottle later in this article. Make sure to check it out.

How to Clean the Detachable Parts of a Contigo Water Bottle

So far, we have covered cleaning the body of your water bottle. Now it comes the next part – cleaning everything else.

Depending on the model you have, your bottle will have different parts like a mouthpiece, a lid, a straw, and more.

This may seem a little tricky to clean at first, but do not worry about that as here I will walk you through how to make the whole process as easy as possible.

How to clean the lid, straw, and mouthpiece of your Contigo water bottle in 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Start by detaching and disassembling each of the parts as much as possible;
  • Step 2: Using a brush or a sponge clean each of the parts with warm soapy water;
  • Step 3: Use a Q-tip soaked in alcohol to clean and reach every area like the threading of the lid or the inside of the straw and mouthpiece;
  • Step 4: Add a drop of liquid soap to a bowl and add warm water;
  • Step 5: Place everything in the bowl and let it sit for 2 to 3 hours; and
  • Step 6: When ready, rinse thoroughly and leave everything to air dry.

Alternatively, what you can do is place all the parts in a glass jar, which is filled with warm soapy water. Then close the lid of the jar tightly and give it a thorough shake. Remove the lid and leave the parts to sit in the soapy water as recommended in step 4. After that, rinse and dry.

Another thing to point out is that although the bottle itself may not be dishwasher-safe most often than not, the parts like the lid, mouthpiece, and straw are dishwasher safe. All you need to do in that case is place them in the utensils area of your dishwasher and wash as usual.

Never skip step number 3.

This is very important as the lid, mouthpiece, and the straw have a lot of narrow and hard to reach spots where mold can accumulate and grow. To clean the straw, you can also use a pipe cleaner, which will allow you to clean it more thoroughly.

How to Deep Clean a Contigo Water Bottle

The standard everyday-cleaning is a must. But it may not always be enough. So every now and then, we will be facing the challenge of deep cleaning our Contigo water bottle.

What deep cleaning means is that we are going to be using stronger substances and chemicals that will disinfect and clean the bottle in a better way.

What you will need is:

  • Baking soda;
  • Vinegar; or
  • Bleach.

How Deep Cleaning Works

For plastic and glass water bottles:

  • Step 1: Disassemble your water bottle and remove the detachable parts.
  • Step 2: Follow the standard cleaning method with soapy water;
  • Step 3: Fill the bottle with 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1-2 tablespoons of bleach. Fill the bottle with warm water and leave it to sit overnight; and
  • Step 4: Rinse thoroughly and leave it to air dry.

To clean the inside of a bottle, which has a small mouth, use a mixture of little water and a little rice. Close the lid and give it a thorough shake. The rice will act as an abrasive and scrape off any gunk and mold off the walls.

This the best and cheapest way to clean a bottle as fast as possible. I have used that before, and it really works (once I even used lentils because I didn’t have any rice at home).

As another option, if you don’t have bleach, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water and add white vinegar to it.

When you add the vinegar, it will the whole thing will start to fizz and bubble. That’s normal. However, try not to inhale the vapors as they can be pretty strong.

For stainless-steel water bottles:

You can follow the same guide as above; but, there are some important caveats, especially when cleaning the outside walls of the bottle. Abrasive substances (like the baking soda) may be too harsh and damage the coating on the bottle, so you may want to avoid using it to scrub the walls.

Baking soda is not a disinfectant, and in fact, it is used for its abrasiveness as it provides good grit when you scrub a particular surface with it.

However, white vinegar and bleach (which are disinfectants) can still be used for cleaning your stainless-steel water bottle.

Another method for deeper cleaning is to fill up your stainless-steel water bottle with boiling water. Then leave it to sit overnight and the next day wash with soapy water, rinse thoroughly and leave it to dry.

How to deep clean the detachable parts of the bottle:

In order to deep clean the lid, mouthpiece, and straw, you can use the same cleaning solution of warm water and vinegar or bleach. Just add everything to a glass jar or bowl and place the detachable pieces inside and leave them to sit in there for 1-2 hours before rinsing them.

Don’t forget to go through every nook and cranny with a Q-tip soaked in alcohol, as previously advised.

As far as cleaning the gasket around the mouthpiece of the Contigo kids water bottles goes, you can try submerging it in a stronger solution of bleach and water over the night.

Mold can be removed even without scrubbing that way, however, don’t expect any miracles and make sure to inspect the end results. And if the mold cannot be removed no matter what you may need to consider buying a new bottle which is easier to clean.

How to Clean the Mold from a Contigo Water Bottle

It can happen to anyone. Forgetting your water bottle with some liquid inside for a long time can result in some interesting outcomes.

If you have never had to deal with a moldy water bottle, you are one of the lucky ones.

The good thing is that mold can be cleaned and fully removed from your bottle. Even bottles with heavy mold can be saved and given a second chance.

Here is how to clean a moldy Contigo water bottle in 5 steps:

  • Step 1: Start by filling up the water bottle with a drop of liquid soap and warm water;
  • Step 2: Close the lid of the bottle. Give the bottle a good and vigorous shake for 15-30 seconds;
  • Step 3: Pour out the water and rinse the bottle with clean water;
  • Step 4: Pour 2 tablespoons of white vinegar (or bleach) into the bottle. Use a brush to scrub clean the bottle; and
  • Step 5: Rinse thoroughly and leave to air dry.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 a few times if necessary.

Also for bottles with a lot of mold that has been growing for some time, you can pour in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar (or bleach) fill it all the way up with warm water, give it a thorough shake, and leave the bottle to sit like that for the night.

Can You Clean a Contigo Water Bottle with a Pbw?

Many of you may not know what PBW is. The thing is that this is a somewhat specialized and niche product that beer brewers use; PBW stands for Powdered Brewery Wash.

And although brewers use it, you don’t need to be a beer brewer yourself to use it.

It is a very strong and environmentally friendly powdered cleaner. It can be used on almost everything like plastic, rubber, metal, and more.

It is especially good for water bottles that have a lot of residue or have accumulated crud in places that you cannot easily reach or get to.

Can You Clean a Contigo Water Bottle with Oxiclean?

OxiClean Versatile is another product some people like to use for a deeper cleaning, especially for bottles that have accumulated a lot of crud, which may be hard to remove with regular products.

However, OxiClean is not as good as using the PBW or some of the other techniques I have mentioned here.

It also tends to leave a thin layer of slick film, which may be hard to remove without a brush or sponge. Overall it is good for removing hard residue, but you will need to do more washing and cleaning after it.

Can You Deep Clean a Contigo Water Bottle with a Dishwasher?

Some dishwashers have a sanitizing feature.

However, it will not be very good at removing heavy residue or curd in some of the more obscure places.

Proceed with cleaning the bottle as previously recommended, and after that, you can finalize the cleaning process by placing the bottle inside the dishwasher and running the sanitizing program.

It is known that dishwashers that can sanitize can kill 99.99% of the bacteria.

And, as always, make sure your bottle is dishwasher-safe, first.

How Often You Should Clean Your Contigo Water Bottle?

Just like any other tableware, your water bottle should never be left uncleaned for a long time. Bottles, and especially stainless steel bottles, provide for the ideal environment where various bacteria, microorganisms, and mold can grow and develop.

All of these love, dark, warm, and moist places, and your bottle is just the perfect candidate for that.

Even a couple of hours can be considered too much. Leaving your bottle closed or open with water inside can further speed up that process of mold and bacteria growth.

So how often you should clean your Contigo water bottle, really? Experts are unanimous that water bottles should be cleaned daily or at least after each use. This provides for better hygiene and sanitation levels, given the circumstances.

Additionally, it is recommended to do a deep cleaning every now and then since regular cleaning (for example, with soap and warm water) is not always going to be enough.

A good example is going to be the case with the kids’ Contigo bottles, which even if you follow the cleaning recommendations to a T, sooner or later, you may end up with a bottle that has mold build-up.

This happens simply as a result of the water, which gets trapped in the little crevices and is not able to properly evaporate.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Contigo Water Bottle?

Unlike the regular and everyday dishes or tableware that we use, the reusable water bottle may seem like something that doesn’t need frequent cleaning.

After all, it is only just water, right?

If I poured inside the bottle a coffee or even a soup, I would be well-aware of the situation and recognize the need to clean the bottle after each use.

But since I am using the water bottle for just that – water – cleaning it every single day may seem like an unnecessary chore. Not to mention that a stainless steel water bottle can make it hard to spot how dirty the inside of the bottle is.

One of the primary concerns is that it doesn’t take much for mold to start growing in the more obscure places of your water bottle.

Even though there are thousands of different types of mold (both harmless and harmful) the one that we can most often find on our water bottles is black mold

Black mold is highly toxic and a serious health hazard.

Of course, there is a good chance that the mold in the bottle may be harmless, but do you really have to take a chance on your health? Not cleaning our reusable water bottle, we are risking letting bacteria, mold, and various microorganisms to grow and spread.

Resources I Used:


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