How to properly clean your water bottles

Cleaning your bottles properly is an important step in keeping them hygienic for use

Clock18:00, Monday 8th January 2024

Having a proper cleaning regime for your water bottles might not be something that's top of your maintenance list. Even when you do give them a good scrub it might be that you're not actually cleaning away all of that bacteria, mould and microbes that can gather inside them. Which is why Ollie Bridgewood is here to guide you through the best way to clean your bottles, keep them fresh and ensure you can use them for thousands of kilometres without issue.

What do I need to clean my bottles?

No matter how you decide to go about cleaning your bottles you should always pair it with a good brush that can reach all of the internal surfaces of the bottle. Using a sponge can be incredibly awkward and can leave certain areas of the bottle untouched.

A bottle brush can not only make it easier but can also save a lot of time in the cleaning process. You can pick up a dedicated bottle brush from most cycling retailers. Yes, it might look a lot like a toilet brush, however it features softer bristles that are less likely to damage the surface of the bottle.

Some bottle brushes will feature a small pipe-cleaning brush attached to the handle. If the brush you choose to use doesn't come with one, it's a worthwhile investment getting a set of pipe cleaning brushes as they are great for cleaning in and around the nozzle.

What is the best way to wash my bottles?

To start off with, a simple solution of warm water and washing up liquid will work fine for lifting most surface dirt. If you keep on top of your bottle-cleaning practices partnering this with a good brush will remove any dirt or mould and effectively sanitise your bottles. In some of the tricker crevices on some bottles, some moulds are particularly stubborn and will take more cleaning power than washing up liquid on its own can supply.

The same applies to cleaning the nozzle. Using washing up liquid with the smaller pipe cleaning brush should get rid of most of the nasty stuff. Some bottle nozzles are also removable which allows a deeper clean of the whole area ideal for removing all bacteria build up.

How else can I sterilise my bottles?

If you are particularly keen on removing all contaminants from the bottle and making sure that is sterile, it is possible to use baby bottle sterilisation tablets which can just be popped in the bottle along with some warm water. However, there is an even cheaper option. Using bicarbonate of soda also has the same effect and can be mixed into a batch that all of your bottles can be cleaned in. As a rule of thumb, a mixture of around 70 grams of bicarbonate of soda to a litre of warm water will be effective.

If you live in an area of hard water where you get limescale build-up in your kettle and around your kitchen sink, you might find that you get carbonate build-up in your bottle. This can have the appearance of looking like your bottle is starting to frost up. To clean away these deposits a cheap and effective method is to use a 1:1 ratio of distilled malt vinegar and water. The acidic properties of the vinegar works by breaking down and lifting away the carbonate deposits.

What shouldn’t I do to clean my bottles?

Something that we recommend avoiding is using a dishwasher to clean your bottles. They do not use hot enough water to effectively clean them nor do they have the ability to properly clean the hard-to-reach areas around the neck and inside the nozzle. It is also noteworthy that not all sports bottles are dishwasher safe so it is best to save the hassle and just clean them by hand.

Harsh cleaning chemicals should also be avoided when cleaning bottles. Bleach-based products are not safe to consume so they should not be used on bottles. It is possible that residue from the bleach cleaner can remain in the bottle and then contaminate them when they are next used.

Don’t neglect the outer surfaces of the bottle either. It can be easy to become fixated on the internal surfaces of the bottles but the outer surfaces also need some love. Especially in the winter months the outside of the bottle can be exposed to all sorts of nasties from the road spray and this can then carry over to your gloves and mouth as well.

Do you have any other golden nuggets of advice for keeping your bottles squeaky clean? Share them with the GCN community in the comments section below.

GCN's Essential Road Bike Maintenance
GCN's Essential Road Bike Maintenance

For road, gravel, commuter and hybrid bikes, Essential Road Bike Maintenance is intended to be a proper bible to all those essential bike maintenance, repairs, and set-up tasks that we all need to know. Everything from basic bike set-up, how to get your wheels on and off, through setting up gears, bleeding brakes, and beyond to things like installing electronic gears, converting to a 1x transmission and more. In a nutshell, pretty much everything you would want to tackle on your bike (or bikes, plural) yourself. And then some. Like bike set up tips for taller and shorter riders; bottom bracket standards explained; common bike maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them; essential roadside fixes to keep you riding; how to make your bike more comfortable; how to puncture-proof your ride and much, much more. “A huge amount of knowledge, hacks, and know-how to help improve both your workshop skills and your ride” – Ollie Bridgewood, GCN Presenter Each chapter is structured with the tasks you’ll most likely need more of the time at the start (like how to adjust your gears, replacing brake pads, or changing a tyre), before running through to those that you’ll do much more infrequently (such as changing disc brake hoses, servicing a freehub or pedals, and so on). This also means that many of the tasks naturally ratchet up in difficulty as you go through each chapter which should also mirror your natural progression as you become more mechanically capable and confident. In short, 260 pages packed with all the essential knowledge you’ll need to confidently take on and complete pretty much any bike maintenance task. Get Some ‘Show-How’ With Your ‘Know-How’ Each walkthrough is linked to a companion video which you can watch for free from your computer, tablet or smartphone. To watch, either type in the walkthrough’s short-link URL – e.g. – into your browser, or scan the QR code with your smartphone or tablet so you can get the best of both worlds: know-how and show-how. Simple. All you need to know to fix your bike. Product Details: Pages: 260 (120sm) Size: 280mm (h) x 216mm (w) (portrait) Cover: Paperback Cover Finish: 300gsm, silk stock with anti-scuff matte laminate and spot UV gloss finish Please note: There may be some additional shipping charges for orders consisting of 2 or more books. However, our customer service team will contact you after you have placed the order to advise on delivery options. Click here to explore all GCN best selling books

Related Content

Link to How to remove dried tubeless sealant from your bike's tyres
YouTube video undefined

How to remove dried tubeless sealant from your bike's tyres

Removing dried-on sealant will keep your tyres light and performing at their best, but it can be a hard task

Link to How to join a cycling club
Our tips for joining a new cycling club

How to join a cycling club

Joining a new club isn't always as simple as it sounds, so here are our tips for finding a group and getting involved

Link to 8 ways to protect your bike from theft
Eight ways to protect your bike

8 ways to protect your bike from theft

Yes, you need a big lock, but there's far more to bike security than that

Link to How to cycle to work in the rain: Weatherproofing your bike commute
You can still commute by bike even when it's raining

How to cycle to work in the rain: Weatherproofing your bike commute

With a little planning and the right cycling gear, riding to work in the rain doesn't have to be the nightmare commute everyone thinks it

Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox