I can’t count the number of times I’ve taken a drink from my water bottle and casually thought, “I should really wash that soon.” The number of times I’ve actually washed it? A lot fewer.
Let’s add that to my list of New Year’s resolutions. A 2018 study from Brazil suggests that water bottles, especially the ones you take to the gym, can accumulate a lot more germs than you’d think. Researchers looked at shaker bottles, used to blend smoothies on the go, comparing 30 clean, unused bottles to 30 belonging to gym-goers. The results came through: 83 percent of the used bottles were contaminated. The biggest bacteria culprits? Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that causes staph infection, and E. coli.
Don’t panic just yet: researchers said these results weren’t completely surprising. E. coli is found in the guts of healthy people, although some strains can lead to illness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Staph bacteria usually won’t cause problems either — it’s often present in people’s skin and noses, the Mayo Clinic said. Still — maybe not something you want to think about drinking.
So how often should you be cleaning that bottle? Ideally, after every use, researchers told Runner’s World. They also recommended going for steel, metal, or glass bottles rather than plastic, which holds onto bacteria more easily. You can clean the bottle by simply sticking it in the dishwasher if it’s safe to do so (check the bottom of your bottle or the brand’s website to make sure). No dishwasher? Pour in some warm water and a few drops of dishwashing soap, close the bottle, and shake it up to clean. Don’t forget to scrub the cap and straw with a soapy sponge.
Also good to know: researchers said that most contamination comes from handling the bottle, not actually drinking from it, so make sure to wash your hands properly after going to the bathroom, working out, and even touching your face. Adding more handwashing and dishwashing doesn’t exactly sound fun, but if it keeps my bottle clean and cute for many workouts to come, hey, I’ll give it a shot.