Germy Water Bottles

Many people are conscientiously carrying refillable water bottles. One key positive here is that drinking water on a regular basis gives the body the fluid it needs to keep itself healthy Also using a refillable bottle helps keep more waste from plastic water bottles out of the trash. There’s also the cost savings of refilling your own bottle compared to purchasing bottled water whenever you’re thirsty. But the question is: how often do you need to wash these refillable cups and bottles? This would be of even more concern if you put something in the bottle other than plain water---perhaps a sports drink, flavor packets or made infused water with cucumbers or lemons. A recent study and on-line report in Treadmill Reviews says that unwashed reusable water bottle could harbor bacteria. Their team swabbed the lids of reusable water bottles and had the samples tested at an independent lab to determine the types and levels of bacteria present. They looked at 12 different bottles and four different types. Each water bottle had been used by an athlete for a week and not washed. The samples showed that these water bottles each had a unique combination of bacteria. Not all were “bad” germs, but some were the types known to cause illnesses. The type of bottle made a difference. Slide-top bottles harbored the most bacteria. This makes sense because these bottles have direct contact with the mouth and more nooks and crannies for bacteria to grow. Bottles with squeeze-tops and screw-tops respectively had fewer bacteria. Bottles with straw tops contained the least amount of bacteria. The folks at Treadmill Review admit that they are not researchers or microbiologists. Even though this topic could probably use a little more scientific research methods and the types of bacteria studied a little more, it does give us all some “food for thought”. If you use a refillable water bottle or are thinking of buying one…here are five important tips to follow to avoid getting ill:
  1. Don’t let a half-full bottle of water set in your gym bag between uses, empty wash and dry between uses.
  2. Select one that uses a straw and replace the straw frequently.
  3. Check the label to see if both the bottle and the lid are dishwasher safe.
  4. Wash after every use in the dishwasher or with hot water and soap.
  5. Rinse well. Allow to dry.
Don’t let your quest for good hydration expose you to unnecessary risks. Use some common sense when it comes to these water bottles. Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University