When Is It Time to Throw Out Your Reusable Water Bottle?

You bought your reusable water bottle knowing it’s a healthier alternative to refrigerated plastic bottles.

Not only are there fewer risks of chemicals like phthalates and BPAs leaking out, but you’re also doing your part for the environment.

After all, each time you throw away a plastic water bottle, it could sit in a landfill for hundreds and hundreds of years before breaking down. 

Even recycled bottles don’t always get recycled and may also end up in the landfill.

You’ve had your reusable water bottle for a couple of years now. Is it one of those things that lasts forever and you only have to replace if it’s cracked or otherwise damaged?

Actually, no. Despite that they’re reusable, your metal or BPA-free plastic bottle doesn’t last indefinitely. Reusable bottles certainly have a shelf life, even though there’s no defined set of years. Instead, it all depends on the material and how well you treat the bottle.

Want to know more? In this article, we’ll tell you about how long you should hold onto plastic and metal reusable water bottles. 

The Most Durable and Reusable Water Bottles I Found

I decided to go on a little research and find out the most durable water bottles that can be used for storing some nice, cold, and refreshing water. And here what I found:

Or check my buying guide for this most durable water bottle here

We’ll also cover some issues that may seem like your bottle is a goner but can be rectified. Finally, we’ll cover ways to extend the lifespan of your bottle.

When Should You Throw Out Reusable Plastic Water Bottles?

Some argue that you should throw out your reusable plastic water bottles right now, regardless of how new they are. We would agree.

Why is that?

It’s an issue we’ve rehashed countless times on this blog, but one that certainly bears repeating.

The chemicals that can leak out of your plastic water bottle if it’s warmed up or chilled can cause a whole slew of nasty health issues. Yes, this can happen with reusable plastic water bottles as well. Even those that are labeled BPA-free may still contain the chemical.

(I explain more about BPAs, what BPA-free plastic is and how it gets that designation, and whether you should make the switch to stainless steel water bottles on this article are stainless steel bottles safer than BPA-free plastic ones?)

You can never be too safe. You’ll heat up and cool your bottle more often than you realize.

Anytime you wash your reusable plastic bottle in hot water or put in in the fridge or freezer (it’s not recommended you do the latter), you could cause BPAs and phthalates to leak out


If you’re insistent on keeping your reusable plastic water bottle, then you can hold onto it until it starts showing serious signs of wear and tear.

If it scratches deeply, cracks, or warps from being frozen or heated, it’s time to get rid of it. You also have to be careful when using your reusable water bottle, as dropping it can cause it to crack.

Don’t try to keep using your bottle if it’s cracked or otherwise damaged. Chemicals can get into the bottle much easier and it could hurt you if you try to drink from it.

When Should You Throw Out Reusable Metal Water Bottles?

The much safer choice for your health is a metal bottle made of steel or aluminum. There are no chemicals in metal bottles. No BPAs, no phthalates, nothing that can hurt your health.

It doesn’t matter if they get warm or cold (although you shouldn’t freeze metal water bottles, either), this doesn’t change. Of course, their safety becomes negligible if the bottle has a plastic liner, so make sure yours is liner-free or all-metal.

Besides safety, reusable metal bottles are also known for their durability and longevity. For instance, if you were to drop one, it wouldn’t crack like a reusable plastic water bottle does. It might have a dent, but that’s just an aesthetic issue. Otherwise, you could go right on using the bottle. 

We do want to note that aluminum reusable bottles are more prone to denting because aluminum itself is a lighter-weight metal. Still, a few dents never hurt anybody.

Metal bottles won’t warp or crack, either. The only issue you have to worry about is rusting, which can happen if your water bottle isn’t made of premium-grade stainless steel. 

As metal bottles are becoming more common since reusable plastic ones aren’t safe, the construction process is improving. Maybe someday your metal bottles will be completely rust-proof, but we’re not there yet.

I break down in a few categories the most common types of materials used for manufacturing water bottles, and we will explore their individual peculiarities and aspects on this post Aluminum, stainless steel or plastic water bottles? What’s best? (+glass +copper)

Standard Reusable Bottle Issues: DON’T Throw Yours Away Yet!

There are some issues that may afflict your reusable water bottle, be it made of plastic or metal, that may convince you your bottle is destined for the trashcan. Don’t be too hasty. Here’s an overview of those issues as well as how to solve them:

  • The water in your bottle is discolored: If you figure you can just rinse out your bottle to clean it because all you drank was water, think again. We’ll go over this more in the next section, but a lack of cleaning the bottle will cause discoloration. Another culprit is filling the bottle, sealing it, and leaving it out for a day or so. If you stash your bottle somewhere moist or wet, discoloration is also likely. Start cleaning better/more often to fix this issue.
  • You get a metallic taste when you drink: Sometimes stainless steel or aluminum reusable water bottles will taste kind of metallic. This isn’t serious, and it’s a problem you can solve with some white vinegar and water. As you remember from our last blog post ​(vinegar and your water bottle the do’s and don’ts), white vinegar is great for cleaning reusable bottles. It comes in handy again here.
  • The water smells a little stinky: Is your water bottle kind of smelly? It happens. Again, it comes down to how often and how well you clean the bottle. The same conditions that can cause water discoloration can also contribute to that unpleasant stench. How to properly clean your water bottles? I wrote more information on this post How to clean your water bottle including the smell
  • You see crust in your reusable metal bottle: Metal deposits in aluminum or stainless steel bottles are common. These tend to build up when the bottle is exposed to hard water, such as that from your faucet. White vinegar, warm water and baking soda, or hot water and soap ought to clean your bottle.

Tips and Tricks for Caring for Your Reusable Bottle So It May Last Longer

Want to prolong the life of your water bottle? Caring for it from the moment you get it onward is the key to doing so. In this section, we’ll provide some handy tips for extending reusable water bottle longevity.

  • Wash your reusable water bottle daily or as often as you use it. Even if you only fill the bottle with water, it still necessitates a good cleaning. According to the Good Housekeeping Institute, germs will propagate inside your bottle without regular cleaning. After all, it’s moist and cool in there, so it’s the perfect place for bacteria. Mold and mildew can also grow in this environment.
  • In this case, cleaning refers to using hot water and soap. You can also use white vinegar or baking soda for a deeper clean, although we don’t recommend mixing the two ingredients (they’re quite volatile together).
  • Use a toothbrush or small cleaning brush to reach the interior of the bottle and give it a thorough clean all the way to the bottom. Rinsing with water is not enough!
  • Don’t forget to clean the cap or lid of your reusable water bottle. Germs, mold, and mildew can and do grow here as well. If your bottle has a straw, then detach it and clean that separately. It can be hard to get dish soap in the opening of the straw, but definitely do your best.
  • Only put your reusable water bottle in the dishwasher if it’s marked dishwasher-safe. The icon for dishwasher-safe products looks like a wine glass turned upside down with water dripping off it. You can see a picture of the icon here.
  • Once your bottle has been washed, let it sit and air dry fully. Putting it in a cabinet or pantry if it’s wet could lead to germs, mold, and mildew.
  • Don’t microwave your reusable water bottle. If it’s made of plastic, this could cause BPAs and phthalates to leak out. If it’s made of metal, no ill effects will occur, but it won’t clean the bottle like you think it will.
  • Don’t freeze your water bottle, either. Both plastic and metal reusable bottles are prone to cracking and even exploding due to the way water expands. When water becomes ice and pushes on the bottle and the bottle becomes brittle from the low freezer temperatures, disaster strikes. If you like to freeze your bottle water you might need to get one of the freezable water bottle, I had wrote some on this post here.
  • Try to avoid dropping your water bottle. This can prevent it from cracking outright or suffering unsightly dents.


There’s no real timetable on how long you can keep your reusable water bottle. It mostly depends on what it’s made of and how well you treat it.

If it’s a plastic reusable bottle, you might want to get rid of it anyway. The chemicals within the plastic can leak out and cause health issues.

Metal bottles can get deposits of metal crust, but this doesn’t mean the bottle has to go in the trash. Similarly, if you notice discoloration, funky odors, and even a metallic taste from the bottle, these issues are all easily fixable. 

It’s only when your bottle has cracked, warped, or is otherwise severely damaged that it’s time to get a new reusable water bottle.

Last but not least you can read my favorite and most durable water bottle on this post here, why I like it and my personal preference:


  • http://groovygreenliving.com/ditch-reusable-plastic-water-bottle/,
  • https://www.banthebottle.net/articles/battle-of-the-reusable-bottles-plastic-vs-aluminum-vs-stainless-steel/,
  • https://thecoldestwater.com/how-to-clean-your-stainless-steel-water-bottle/,
  • https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2018/05/10/the-right-way-to-care-for-your-reusable-water-bottle/,
  • https://www.hunker.com/13421682/how-to-get-rid-of-a-metallic-taste-from-stainless-steel-water-bottles,
  • https://www.huffpost.com/entry/wait-youre-supposed-to-wash-your-water-bottle-how-often_n_57a357b2e4b04414d1f3bf3a,
  • http://tupperware.com.my/safety_assurance_decoding.php

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