If you occasionally doubt whether you are washing that reusable water bottle often enough, you are certainly not alone. Yet there is a simple answer to the question of how often you should wash it. “I clean the bottles every day,” says Liesbeth Verboven of Het Poetsbureau Part of Glowi. “Usually I simply rinse them out with water first. At the end of the week I will do a more thorough cleaning.”
Does the material of your drinking bottle make a difference in how often you have to clean it?
Once a day sounds like a lot, but it’s certainly not advice to ignore. You spend a whole day with your mouth on the drinking bottle: a source of bacteria. That way they can multiply quickly every time you drink it again. You never wash that bottle? Then you can even get sick of it, for example. In addition, that bottle will also start to smell louder. “That is a microbiological phenomenon,” says Dominique Vandijck, deputy general director of the Poison Control Center. “If leftovers of drinks or even food are left in such a bottle for a while, it will mold and additional bacteria will grow. After that, the bottle starts to smell and your water will taste different. In the summer, the chance is even greater, when your bottle is in the heat. Then the material will give off more flavor to the water. So it is not only the liquid that we smell, but also the material itself. Whether you have a bottle made of plastic, metal or glass: the material will influence that taste.”
If the material gives off flavour, this also means that miniscule parts of a plastic or metal drinking bottle end up in the water. “There are particles of plastic or metal in the water you drink, even if only in small quantities,” Vandijck explains. “That in itself is not harmful, otherwise we would never be allowed to use these reusable drinking bottles.”
Two substances do matter. The so-called phthalates, a collective name for chemical substances that are added to plastic as plasticizers to make it a lot more flexible, softer and more flexible, and bisphenol a. These substances are under scrutiny due to increasingly strict legislation, because they have endocrine-disrupting properties. are attributed. “These in turn are linked to, among other things, a higher risk of certain cancers, diabetes, obesity and fertility problems. In the short term, its intake has no toxicological consequences, but science is now investigating whether this is also the case in the long term.”
What’s the best way to clean that reusable water bottle?
“If I want to thoroughly clean the bottles, I first rinse them with water and then add a tablespoon of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate,” says Liesbeth Verboven. “The baking soda removes bad odors and ensures that any limescale deposits disappear. Then I fill the bottles with warm water and leave them overnight with the contents. The next morning I rinse them well and then they are completely clean again.” An extra tip that Verboven shares: “use a special brush for the bottle, the kind you would use to clean a bottle for baby food, for example. That brush is long and narrow and you can easily reach all places in the drinking bottle with it.
The dishwasher is also an option, but not for all bottles. “Not all receptacles are suitable for this,” says Verboven. “Plastic sports bottles used by cyclists, for example, cannot be put in the dishwasher. The plastic of those kinds of bottles is not hard enough for that. The harder copies that you buy in the shops, such as the Dopper brand, on the other hand, do. Like the metal bottles. And even though that dishwasher is a handy option to clean your drinking bottle: don’t put it in every week. Due to the heat released in it, some particles can eventually come off the plastic or metal and still remain in the drinking bottle, so that you still ingest them, even if the bottle has just been cleaned.”
Does a reusable water bottle have an expiration date?
“Absolutely”, says Vandijck. “You can’t keep using these kinds of bottles permanently. Producers cannot continue to guarantee its qualitative freshness. The more you use them, the more the bottle will be damaged and the more particles will be released. Therefore, for example, alternate different drink bottles, and also alternate materials.”
Not only does the friction loosen extra particles, people also often add extra seasonings to the water. “The acid of a lemon, for example, bites into the metal or plastic inner wall. It’s like spaghetti sauce in a plastic container: it will look red no matter how many times you wash it off. That is the perfect example of how foods interact with that material.”