How to Clean a Stainless Steel Water Bottle [4 Easy Methods]

Living a zero-waste life doesn't have to be complicated or messy. There are several ways to avoid using single-use plastic and contribute to sustainability, and reusable water bottles provide a great one. We love those tough stainless steel water bottles that can bounce off the floor and look smart anywhere – clean yours smartly too so that you can keep re-using it.

Avoid creating a breeding ground for germs and a disturbance of your healthy intestinal flora. Stainless steel bottles are usually made of food-grade stainless steel, so they’re durable, and easier to clean because of the high density of the steel.

They're also dishwasher safe. Let's get a reusable water bottle on the go!

What you will need

  • A kettle or pot
  • A new sponge
  • A clean cloth
  • A bottle brush
  • Liquid dish soap OR
  • Either standard white vinegar (to be rinsed with hot water) 1l, OR
  • Baking soda (to be rinsed with hot water), a small packet of about 400g, OR
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to be rinsed with cold water, otherwise it isn’t effective) 500ml

Pro-tip: Protect your hands

Before you start to clean a stainless steel bottle, put on some cleaning gloves to protect your skin – no need for you to expose your skin to harsh cleaning agents (mental note: must research and write about eco-friendly cleaning products!) while you’re cleaning the bottle.

Step-by-Step hand wash instructions - 4 methods

It’s impossible to see into that dark concave space, so you need a reliable and fail-safe method of erasing all germs and residue from inside it.

Here are four easy stainless steel water bottle cleaning tips.

Method 1: Liquid dish soap and warm water - avoiding harmful chemicals

Wash the bottle with very hot water and a solution of dishwashing soap, then rinse with hot water. This is a more effective way than using cold water because the heat activates the cleaning power of the soap.

Use a new or sterilized cloth, or a water-bottle brush with a long flexible handle, to safely and gently scrub the inside of the bottle. Then give it a good shake and rinse with hot water. Don’t use a used sponge, it carries too many bacteria of its own.

Rinse with hot water. You can clean the bottle brush afterwards by soaking it in a sink full of hot water and liquid dish soap solution for 15 minutes - rinse off the soap and leave it to dry.

You could also sanitize it by soaking it in a cold solution of hydrogen peroxide for 15 minutes, then rinse it in hot water and leave it on a drying rack to dry.

Clean the thread on the open neck of the bottle, where the bottle's lid fits, by scrubbing it gently with the brush and dishwashing solution, then add hot water.

Method 2: Vinegar Rinse - great anti-microbial properties

It’s safest to use a cleaning solution that is guaranteed to kill germs which build up over time. You will also want to kill any leftover odors that persist in the stainless steel bottle. Stainless steel doesn’t easily absorb bacteria or odors, but repeated use and possible spoilage of the contents may set up an odor problem.

For this effective and quick method, first mix white vinegar and water in equal parts, to make a quick solution.

Pour the vinegar inside and then give it a few good shakes. Let the sealed bottle soak overnight, then empty it, let it sit overnight to air dry, and rinse with hot water the next day.

Method 3: Using baking soda to kill bacteria

Baking soda is the best to wipe out any odors, and this method will give your stainless steel bottle a very thorough clean. The baking soda cuts through built-up residue and also kills any mildew spots in the base or the bottle's cap.

First, put one teaspoon of baking soda into the empty bottle, then fill it with water.

Scrub the inside of the lid with a paste of two teaspoons of baking soda, applied with a water bottle brush, and a little hot water. Alternatively, you could put the lid into the top rack of the dishwashing machine, for a wash, because that detergent is usually powerful enough to cut the residue from the lid of the bottle.

Method 4: Using hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent

It’s very important to use your cleaning gloves when handling hydrogen peroxide because it strips the skin of natural oils.

First, you’ll have to prepare the stainless steel water bottle by washing it in liquid dish soap and hot soapy water. Then rinse it, and add 60ml (about 5 teaspoons) into the bottle, and fill it with water. Put on the lid, shake the bottle vigorously, pour out the solution and rinse the bottle with cold water.

FAQ

How often should I wash my stainless steel water bottle?

Ideally, every time you use it. The usual hot water and dishwashing solution should do the trick, but if it stays unopened for any length of time, it’s more likely to need a more thorough wash with one of the three cleaning agents just described below.

Can stainless steel water bottles get mold?

Yes, although they are resistant to mold, these tough water bottles may develop mold in the lid, or inside the flask if the body has been scratched inside.

What can you not put in a stainless steel bottle?

Lemonade or citrus drinks that release citric acid, may corrode the stainless steel, leading to the cup or bottle becoming a trap for bacteria. Milk will overproduce micro-organisms if kept in a stainless-steel flask, leading to spoilage and a digestive upset if you drink it. Hot tea in your stainless steel water bottle will become bitter if you leave it to brew for hours.

How long do stainless steel water bottles last?

Stainless steel is very durable and your water bottle should last about 12 years. The steel contains chromium which repairs itself of minor dents and abrasions, so the bottle can keep its shape and integrity over time because of the activity of the chromium.

What do you think of this zero-waste solution for stainless steel bottles?

Tough, versatile stainless steel water bottles promote zero waste, and the initial financial outlay is more than you would pay for a plastic bottle of water, but the impact on the planet is substantial and your saving over time will quickly compensate you.

A stainless steel bottle is also great as a travel mug, too. You'd be cutting down cup waste!

Cheers to the value of this long-lasting accessory to a healthy life and sustainability.

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