Kellye Fox | 

How to Clean Out the Funk & Mold in Water Bottles

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When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your water bottle? If it’s been awhile, you’re not alone. Figuring out how to clean water bottles is a serious chore. But we’re here to help and have already done the research for you.

Don’t worry—none of our methods will occupy your day. And once you choose your favorite cleaning technique, it will be a breeze the next time you need to clean it (not just rinse it out). In the meantime, if you’re on the hunt for a new hydration vessel, check out our roundup of the best water bottles. Even better, treat yourself to a coveted Stanley Quencher Tumbler.

If you’re not a tap water drinker and like to use your favorite brand to fill your everyday bottle, here are some water coupons. If you opt for plastic water bottles, try these ways to reuse them to minimize waste. Be sure to download the Krazy Coupon Lady app for more life hacks and money-savings tips, deals, and coupons.


1. Use a water bottle cleaning brush, hot water, and dish soap.

Woman putting a water bottle in a gym bag and washing it in a sink

Fill your sink with hot water and dish soap. Then, use a water bottle brush to scrub the bottom and sides of your plastic water bottle. Turn your water bottle upside down on a drying rack to finish.

Check out these Dawn dish soap coupons to save money before you start cleaning.

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2. Pour boiling water in metal water bottles to remove mold.

A metal water bottle being pulled from under a car seat, then a solution being poured into it for cleaning.

If you have kids—and even if you don’t—you’ve probably found funky mold in water bottles shoved under car seats and in backpacks. Take metal water bottles and fill them with boiling water to kill whatever stink or mold that’s growing within. Leave overnight, then wash the inside vigorously with soap.


3. Drop a couple of denture cleaning tablets into a water bottle filled with warm water.

A woman dropping a denture tablet into an empty plastic water bottle.

Denture cleaner for water bottles? Yep. Let the denture cleaner solution sit overnight, then rinse with dish soap and warm water. The baking soda in the denture tablets lifts any dirt or leftover food from smoothies and gets into small crevices.

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Related: 13 Deep Cleaning Tips for the Germiest Household Items

4. Use baking soda and warm water as an easy water bottle cleaner.

Baking soda being poured into a water bottle.

Baking soda is a natural disinfectant that is very mild. This makes it the perfect ingredient to clean out any mold in water bottles without leaving behind a scent.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda to a water bottle filled with warm water. Let the solution soak for a few hours before washing everything out with dish soap.



5. Fill a bottle with white vinegar to kill bacteria.

White vinegar being poured into a green plastic water bottle.

If you’re wondering how to clean water bottles without bleach, try white vinegar. Studies show that white vinegar kills 82% of mold spores, as well as viruses and bacteria. That alone makes it a killer water bottle cleaner.

Add white vinegar to your water bottle and let it soak overnight. In the morning, wash it thoroughly with soap and warm water. The vinegar scent may linger for a few hours, but it should go away by your next use.

This method also works well in plastic, like those ever-popular Camelbak water bottles. Psst… we’ve seen these bottles on sale for as much as 40% off. Text DEALS to 57299 and be the first to know about Camelbak sales.

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6. Clean the inside of a reusable straw with a pipe cleaner.

Dawn dish soap being applied to a pipe cleaner, then used to clean a straw.

Pour dish soap directly onto a pipe cleaner brush and push it through a grimy straw. Rinse thoroughly. If your straw is wide, use two pipe cleaners twisted together.


7. Clean a hydration pack reservoir with bleach or baking soda and water.

Woman adding baking soda and bleach to a camelbak water water bladder.

It’s not just your traditional water bottles that need cleaning. Hydration reservoirs or hydration bladders need the same attention. Here’s how to clean them:

  1. Add two tablespoons of baking soda or bleach to your water bottle reservoir and fill with hot water.
  2. Seal the reservoir and mix the solution inside by shaking or pushing the water around.
Water being squeezed out of a water bladder into the sink.

3. Hold the bladder above your head and pinch the bite valve, allowing the water solution to run through the tube. Let the solution sit for 30 minutes.

A water bladder being cleaned in a soapy sink.

4. Wash the reservoir with hot water and mild dish soap, scrubbing the hydration pack with a bottle brush if needed.

5. Let it air dry so no moisture is trapped inside.

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8. Freeze an empty water bottle reservoir to avoid mold growth in between uses.

A blue Camelbak water bladder being placed in a freezer

Once you’ve cleaned and dried your hydration reservoir, freeze it until you’re ready to use it again. Just remember to take the silicone bite valve off your water bottle reservoir before sticking it in the freezer. This will help to avoid freezing any stranded water. That leftover water could cause the valve to expand and crack. Do this after a big clean and you’ll be set.



9. Scrub away grime or mold in water bottles with rice.

White rice being poured into a plastic water bottle and shaken.

If you don’t have a water bottle brush, use rice, warm water, and a small amount of dish soap. Attach the lid, or cover the opening with your hand, and shake. The rice will help remove any residue from the sides and bottom of your bottle.


10. Soak water bottle lids in a bleach and baking soda solution.

Clorox bleach being measured and poured into a glass bowl of water and water bottle lids.

Water bottle lids take the brunt of the funk and bacteria, so they need love, too. Here’s how to disinfect your lids:

  1. Add one teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of bleach to a glass bowl. Fill with warm water.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Place your water bottle lid and any small parts that can easily be removed into the bowl. You may have to use a plate to weigh everything down.
  4. Allow the pieces to sit 4-6 hours or overnight.

5. Rinse and thoroughly wash with dish soap.
6. Air-dry the lid pieces with the valve open.

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11. Use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean tight spaces in a water bottle’s lid.

A cotton swab being dipped into a rubbing alcohol and used to clean a water bottle lid.

If you need another method to clean your water bottle lid, here you go. Remove any of your water bottle lid’s parts and get into the crevices with a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol.

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