Your Water Bottle Is Filthy

It used to be that you only had a drink at home or in a restaurant. If you were carrying a water bottle, it was a sure sign that you were exercising or camping. The idea of carrying a drink around with you was unheard of. However, as we have grown more aware of hydration’s importance, more and more of us carry bottles of water everywhere we go.

Water bottles are now a popular gift. And what kind of water bottle is “in” is discussed. There are water bottle trends! Some people care about the look of their water bottle and matching it to their style, while others just care about the function. Squeeze-top water bottles are the most popular for baby boomers and Gen Z, while millennials and Gen Xers prefer a screw-on lid. No matter what kind of bottle you prefer, there is a good chance you use one regularly to stay hydrated.

New research about water bottles may leave you horrified. Our reusable water bottles are filthy, according to a study. In fact, on average, a water bottle has 40,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Bottles also have 14 times more bacteria than a pet’s water bowl.

The news gets worse. Those comparisons estimate that a water bottle has 20,800,000 colony-forming units (CFUs). That’s a measurement of living microbes. But that is an average. Squeeze-top bottles have 3,000,000 CFUs. Screw-tops have 30,000,000. If you drink from a screw-top, you may want to consider switching to a squeeze-top version.

It has to be noted that 13 percent of people in the study washed their bottles only a few times a month. Only 42 percent of people washed their bottles daily, while 25 percent said they washed them a couple of times a week. Some people, 20 percent, washed their bottle multiple times a day. Washing something you are drinking from is essential for good health.

The human mouth contains a lot of bacteria. Transferring it back and forth between your mouth and an object can make you ill, especially if you are drinking anything other than water and bacteria or mold could grow there.

Imperial College London molecular microbiologist Dr. Andrew Edwards said, “The human mouth is home to a large number and range of different bacteria. So it’s not surprising that drinking vessels are covered in microbes.”

Bacteria isn’t always a terrible thing. It’s all over our skin. It’s in our intestines. It’s impossible to avoid. The faucet tested in the study had 30,000,000 CFUs on it. That’s the same as the screw-top water bottles. The water bottles may have been rinsed but not washed.

Reflecting on how dangerous it is, Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the Univ. of Reading, had doubts. Especially as the faucet was just as bacteria riddled as the bottles. He said, “I’ve never heard of someone getting sick from a water bottle. Similarly, taps are clearly not a problem: when did you last hear of someone getting ill from pouring a glass of water from a tap? Water bottles are likely to be contaminated with the bacteria that are already in people’s mouths.”

While that’s true, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and only washing a thing a couple of times a month that you drink from every day is unsanitary. It’s impossible to avoid all bacteria, but eating from clean glasses, cups and bottles is important. It’s best to wash them once a day with hot soapy water and sterilize them once a week in the dishwasher.

Banner image: Bluewater Sweden via Unsplash

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