How To

As the weather gets warmer, one of the main reasons athletes get sick is due to poor water bottle hygiene. Leaving a half-finished drink in your water bottle can turn it into an incubator for bacteria and mold.

Copyright: Gelpi JM

Rinse out your sports water bottle with warm soapy water then fill with 100ml of white wine vinegar and the rest with water. Leave for 8 hours or overnight. Thoroughly rinse and dry the bottle and it will be ready to use the next time you need it.

Baking Soda & Vinegar

Baking Soda

Place 2 tablespoons of Baking Soda (this cleans and removes odors) and 150ml of vinegar (which kills mold and mildew germs) in the bottle. Fizzing will occur. Allow the mixture to settle for 5 minutes. Leaving the vinegar and baking soda mix inside the bottle, use a brush or cloth to clean inside the bottle making sure you don’t miss the groves and corners. Replace lid and squirt out the contents to clean the nozzle. Then rinse the bottle out several times with warm water.

Tip for cleaning narrow neck or long bottles: Some water bottles, especially SIGG liter bottles, have a narrow opening and long body making them more difficult to clean. That’s where a bottle brush can help. Use the vinegar and soda mix, then use the brush for at least 30 seconds, rinse out the bottle and brush, fill with hot water and repeat.

Dental clean tablets

Dental Cleaning Tablets

Drop one denture tablet into a bottle full of water and allow it to soak overnight. This way of cleaning kills bacteria, removes stains and leaves no funny taste. When soaking, turn the lid upside down, open the nozzle and place it on the bottle, making sure the nozzle is soaking in the mixture. The next morning, attach the lid, squirt out the liquid and repeat with clean water.



If using a dishwasher, make sure you rinse out bottles first and place them upside down so water can get in to clean them. Place the cap upside down with the nozzle open to allow the dish washer to thoroughly clean it.

 Tip for using tap water: If you’re using tap water in  your sports water bottle or to mix your drinks, it may be a good idea to boil it first in order to sterilize the water depending on the quality coming from your faucet. Make sure you let it cool before using in water bottles or hydration packs. Consider boiling the water the night before for use in the morning.

 Regularly clean sports water bottles and hydration packs for best results

Cleaning a sports water bottle or hydration bladder after a ride, a hike or a trip to the gym appears to be a low priority for the vast number of athletes, as they re-fill them time and time again. Indeed, very few athletes consider water bottle hygiene to be a big priority in the build-up to race-day, but following the tips above could make all the difference. It has never surprised me that the athletes who get sick the most often also have the most unhygienic looking water bottles. I cannot guarantee this information will keep your bottles 100% clean of bacteria or mold and keep you from getting sick, but they will certainly reduce the chances considerably. Here are a few parting tips for clean water bottles and hydration packs:

  • The best advice I have is to rinse your sports water bottle or hydration pack out after each use. But you should also thoroughly clean your bottles at least once a week. The rule of thumb is that if it looks dirty on the outside, it’s not worth risking what’s on the inside!
  • As with your sports water hydration pack, you should also thoroughly clean your bottles at least once a week. The rule of thumb is that if it looks dirty on the outside, it’s not worth risking what’s on the inside!
  • Clear, see-through water bottles are the best. I suggest you change your sports water bottle every 8-12 weeks depending on how often you use it.  Avoid dark colors as it’s difficult to spot the dirt. Bacteria can also be a problem inside aluminum bottles.
  • Using electrolytes and carbohydrates or fruits and vegetables in your water bottle allows bacteria to thrive on the bottom of your bottle. It can be hard to fully clean this in a dishwasher and you may need a brush and hot, but not boiling water.
  • Hydration bladders and bottles can be kept in the freezer between uses after they have been thoroughly cleaned.

DISCLAIMER: The above tips are what I have learned from personal experience during the last 30 years. Bacteria can still occur even when you’re just using tap water.

Main Photo image Max Blain

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