How to Wash a New Water Bottle and Get it Ready to Use


You might be tempted to pour water straight into your new bottle and start using it right away when you get it, but what about the potential contamination that it is picked up along the way, before you got it? Have you considered the possibility that your water bottle might be harboring some nasty germs and bacteria? All merchandise – not just water bottles – is handled by several people before it gets to you. They are packaged, dropped, priced, looked at, and constantly touched. As you can see there is plenty of scope for it to gather a few germs, dirt, and even smells during the process. For your health and of course, a delicious first sip of water from your new bottle, you need to wash it and prepare it for use.

How to wash a new water bottle and get it ready to use: There are six popular ways to clean and prepare a new water bottle.

  • Put it in the dishwasher (first check if it is dishwasher safe).
  • Wash the bottle by hand with liquid dish washing soap and warm water.
  • Give the water bottle a vinegar rinse.
  • Wash the new water bottle with bicarb or baking soda.
  • Clean the new water bottle with salt, lemon, and water.
  • Wash the bottle out with antibacterial mouthwash.

Some water bottles are easier to clean than others. That being said, even if the water bottle looks clean inside and out, simply rinsing it out with water is not sufficient. Generally speaking, dishwashers and vinegar rinses provided a deeper clean than hand washing the bottle with soap and water. However, that does not mean that a soap and water wash will not suffice. For an easy step by step guide and a few extra tips on keeping your water bottle hygienically clean and healthy, read through the elaborations and pointers below.

Step By Step Water Bottle Cleaning Guide to Prep for First-Time Use

Want to learn a bit more about each of our abovementioned water bottle cleaning methods? Check out the steps and tips below:

  • Dishwasher cleaning a new water bottle.

Dishwasher to wash the kitchenware

Dishwasher to wash the kitchenware including the water bottles

Dishwashers provide a deep clean for a new water bottle however, you must be careful with this option because not all water bottles are “dishwasher safe”. Dishwashers use extremely high heat and steam to wash and dry items respectively. Some water bottles, particularly some of the lower-grade plastic versions, will not be able to withstand the process – they may even melt or crumple during the hot washing cycle.

Glass water bottles (if marked “dishwasher safe”) and stainless steel water bottles are usually good candidates for dishwasher washing. It is always good to check the product for warnings and recommended washing instructions before popping it into the washing machine. Some products, which will be fine in the dishwasher, might have branding or labels on them that will peel or fade when exposed to the high heat washing cycles of the dishwasher.

When using the dishwasher to clean a dishwasher-safe water bottle, simply remove the cap from the bottle and place it on the rack, facing downwards. Turn the bottle upside down on a dish rack spoke so that the water can easily drain out during each washing and rinsing cycle. Turn the machine on and let it do its thing. Make sure that the bottle has completely air dried before you use it for the first time. 

  • Washing a new water bottle by hand with warm water and soap.

dish washing soap to clean a new bottle

dish washing soap and warm water also can be used to clean a new bottle

Washing a new water bottle “the good old fashioned way” is still sufficient to remove germs, dirt, and grime. Make sure that the water is warm and use a decent liquid dishwashing soap. Most of the leading dishwashing soaps on the market include grease-cutting agents that remove grease and grime and eliminate any dirt and dust clinging to the bottle. Use a sponge or a cloth to give the bottle a really good rub down.

Use a bottle brush to scrub the inside of the bottle and to get into the grooves of the lid area and any other decorative areas that might have grooves. If you do not have a bottle brush you can half fill the bottle with warm soapy water and shake the bottle vigorously. For a bit of added abrasion, add a table spoon of coarse salt to the mixture.  Rinse with hot water and repeat a few times. Once the bottle is thoroughly rinsed, let it completely air dry before you use it. Alternatively, you can dry it with a clean dish towel or a paper towel.

This is a good option for bottles, such as plastic reusable bottles, that might not withstand the heat of a dishwasher. It is also a reliable method for cleaning glass and stainless steel water bottles.

Something to be aware of is that not all dishwashing detergents are made equal. Some are standard non-toxic cleaners that can remove grease and dirt from plates, pots and pans. If you want to make sure that your liquid dishwashing soap kills germs and bacteria, make sure that the label mentions ‘antibacterial’ ingredients. If there is no mention of such ingredients, the soap is designed to clean, but not to disinfect.

  • Cleaning a new water bottle with a vinegar rinse.

vinegar used as cleaning agent

vinegar known as one of the eco cleaning agent

Vinegar is a great cleaning agent. It obliterates germs, build up, stains, and even strange smells in just a few swishes. Using a vinegar rinse is a deep cleaning option and that is what makes it popular for preparing a brand new water bottle for first-time use. What vinegar should you use? Choose standard white vinegar or even malt vinegar – it does not really matter.

You do not need a lot of vinegar at all. A quarter of a cup of vinegar in a liter of water is a decent combination when mixing the “cleaning agent”. Pour the solution into the bottle until just over the halfway point and let it stand with the lid on for a few minutes. Then turn the bottle over and let it stand upside down for a few more minutes. You can then remove the cap and let it sit in the vinegar-water mixture for a few minutes. Put the cap back on the bottle and secure it tightly before shaking the bottle vigorously.

You can then pour the liquid out of the bottle and rinse it (and the cap) with hot water. Repeat the rinse several times to ensure that all of the vinegar flavor and smell is sufficiently removed from the bottle. You can use a clean dish towel to dry the bottle or let it completely air dry before you use it for the first time.

How does vinegar work and why is it ideal for cleaning water bottles? First of all, vinegar is non-toxic and also biodegradable, but those are not the only reasons why they are a good go-to for cleaning your new bottle. There is an interesting article that was posted by ABC News in Australia that indicated UK and US studies were done that ultimately proved vinegar can quickly inactivate the flu virus, eliminate a wide variety of pathogens found in the average home, and only takes around half an hour to kill off a particularly difficult-to-kill bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. You guessed it; Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes TB.

It is said that vinegar’s effective germ and bacteria-killing abilities are due to the fact that it consists of at least 5% acetic acid. Acetic acid is able to do its job (germ and bacteria killing) by chemically altering the fat and protein cells within bacteria and germs. Once their cell structures are disturbed, they are no longer harmful – they no longer exist. That being said, it is safe to say that when it comes to removing stains, killing germs and ridding your bottle of bacteria, vinegar is a fine choice.

  • Cleaning a new water bottle with bicarb or baking soda.

baking soda used as cleaning agent

baking soda is also known as an eco cleaning agent

Many people do not realize the cleaning power of bicarb or baking soda. If you have not tried it before, you should do. Baking soda (or bicarb) and water can be used to clean your new bottle effectively.

To clean your bottle, simply half fill it with warm water and add two spoons of bicarb. Replace the cap tightly and shake the bottle vigorously. After you are happy that you have shaken it enough, you can let the bottle soak in the mixture for a few minutes (or a few hours if you have the time). Then remove the cap, pour the mixture out and rinse the bottle with hot water. If there is bicarb residue on the bottle, use a liquid dishwashing soap to gently clean the residue away. Rinse it with hot water and let it air dry completely before using it. Alternatively, you can dry the bottle with a clean dish towel or paper towel.

How does baking soda and bicarb work and why are these products good for cleaning water bottles? First off, bicarb and baking soda, like vinegar, are non-toxic natural products. They are often used as effective cleaning agents because they are mildly alkaline in nature. This is because baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a salt. It is a compound with a PH that is slightly higher than neutral even though it is created from positively charged ions and negatively charged ions. Because of this, their composition can cause grease and dirt to quickly dissolve in water. And that is the key to why bicarb and baking soda are such good choices when cleaning your new water bottle for first-time use.

It is important however to note that you should opt for a deeper clean if you suspect your water bottle has been exposed to serious bacteria. Unfortunately, baking soda and bicarb is not effective in killing most dangerous bacteria, such as staphylococcus, salmonella, and E. coli.

  • Cleaning a new water bottle with salt, lemon and water.

salt lemon and water used as cleaning agent

it might be easier to find salt and lemon at your home and mix with warm water to use your new bottles

Lemon has a nice fresh fragrance that most would not mind, even if it did stick to inner material of the bottle. Do not worry, it will not. To clean your bottle out effectively, add one cup of warm water, the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, and 3 tablespoons of salt.

You can top the bottle up with more water or ice (for a bit more abrasion) if you wish. Let the mix stand in the bottle for around 15 minutes. Then, shake the bottle vigorously before turning it upside and letting it soak for a further 15 minutes. Shake vigorously again and then empty the bottle out. You can rinse it out with hot water to remove the lemon and salt residue – you may have to repeat this rinsing a few times. Alternatively, you can use a mild soap and water solution to rinse the residue out, but it is not strictly necessary.

How does lemon juice work and why is it ideal for cleaning water bottles? Lemon is much like vinegar in that it is a natural and non-toxic cleaning agent. This means that it is safe to clean items that come into contact with food with it. The acidic content of lemon is great for removing stains and bad smells. It is both antiseptic and antibacterial, but it is important to note that it is not a disinfectant. Natural lemon juice is often used as a bleaching agent and is strong enough to prepare your new water bottle for first time use.

  • Cleaning a new water bottle with antibacterial mouthwash.

mouthwash used to clean the bottle water

an easy alternative by using mouthwash to clean your new bottle water

Got some Listerine or another brand of mouthwash in the cupboard? You can use it to clean your new water bottle. Antibacterial mouthwash can actually be used to clean a variety of household surfaces as well as help clean up a wound or sore/cut.

Simply add a quarter of a cup of antibacterial mouthwash to your water bottle and let it stand for a few minutes. Turn the bottle upside down and let it stand for a few more minutes. This is to ensure that the entire bottle gets a good soak. Once it has soaked for a sufficient amount of time, empty the bottle and then rinse it out with hot water. You can repeat rinsing a few times to ensure that any flavor is completely removed. If you want to make sure it is removed, you can also rinse out the bottle with some warm water and mild liquid dish washing soap, but this is not strictly necessary.

How does antibacterial mouthwash work and why is it ideal for cleaning water bottles? You probably did not know this, but Listerine was originally created as a surgical antiseptic. Nowadays, it makes for a good mouthwash. Mouthwash is such a good antibacterial that it can be used to treat nail fungus infections as well as athlete’s foot. Suffice to say, it is a good option for cleaning your new water bottle.

What Not to Do – Water Bottle Cleaning Methods to Avoid

a women holding cleaning chemical

Don’t be confuse and use the eco friendly solution to clean your new bottles

When you get a new water bottle, you might be tempted to pour some household cleaning chemicals into it to give it a good clean. Harsh cleaning chemicals are not safe to consume and therefore should not be used to clean any items that come into contact with food and beverages that you plan to consume. Even small amounts of chemical residues in your water bottle can negatively impact on your health. Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals and always opt for mild soaps that are designed for washing dishes and food service items.

How Often Should You Wash a Water Bottle?

clean bottles at the kitchen sink

stay safe and wash your bottle water regularly

It is not just preparing your water bottle for first time use that you need to think about if you use a reusable water bottle. You also need to ensure that you are regularly cleaning your bottle, going forward. Because the bottle is handled so often and comes into contact with so many different surfaces and environments that you encounter on a daily basis, it is safe to assume that your bottle is regularly infected with bacteria and germs.

You should also consider the fact that you sip from the bottle numerous times a day. Anything that comes into contact with your mouth every day should be cleaned thoroughly, regularly. Think about your favorite coffee mug. You probably wash that every day – if you do not, you should!

You should aim to clean your water bottle every evening. If you do not seem to find the time or your situation does not allow for it, aim to clean your bottle every second day or so. Also remember that it is not just the bottle that you need to wash. You need to clean the bottle inside and outside, as well as the bottle cap/lid.

Last Word 

How you clean your new water bottle to get it ready for first-time use is up to you. What is absolutely important is that you do clean it, to protect yourself from potential germ and bacterial contamination.

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