Weekly Wellness: Wash that water bottle

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COLUMBIA - "Drink more water!" You hear it from me all the time. So, of course you're doing it, right? You're drinking more water. But how?

Disposable water bottles are convenient but if you're going to drink the recommended daily amount, those small bottles aren't going to cut it. And re-filling them isn't the best idea. In an article in 2007 issue of the journal Practical Gastroenterology, experts pointed out that commercial bottled water manufacturers don't recommend that consumers reuse thei disposable bottles. They sit in the article that "everyday wear and tear from repeated washings and reuse can lead to physical breakdown of the plastic, such as visible thinning or cracks. Bacteria can harbor in the cracks, posing a health risk." In addition, "reuse of plastic water bottles can lead to bacterial contamination unless washed regularly," which entails washing the bottle with mild soap, rinsing it well and making sure there is no "physical breakdown prior to use." 

So, instead of using the disposable water bottles, you've gotten yourself a shiny reusable water bottle. Yay, you! There is STILL a concern about bacteria. You MUST clean your water bottle. Here are some great tips to help you stay hydrated and bacteria-free!

Throw it in the dishwasher: Some bottles are dishwasher safe, so check the bottom of your bottle or the brand's website to make sure. Stainless-steel bottles and glass bottles are generally dishwasher safe.

Wash it with warm soapy water:Pour out any leftover liquid, add a few drops of dishwashing soap and some warm water, screw on the top, and shake for a minute or so. It's smart to invest in a bottle brush like this so you can scrub deep inside your bottle, especially if it has a narrow mouth. Thoroughly clean the cap and straw as well and allow to air-dry overnight.

Use vinegar: This all-natural cleaner is great for killing certain germs and bacteria, but it isn't effective at killing everything such as the flu virus. If you're OK with that, use this method: after washing with soapy water, rinse well, and fill your bottle one fifth of the way with white vinegar. Fill the rest with water, let it stand overnight, and in the morning thoroughly rinse it out.

Use a weak bleach solution: If you're really worried about germs, nothing stands a chance against a little bleach. It's perfectly safe to drink from a bottle that's been cleaned with a weak bleach solution -- it can even be used to sanitize baby toys and bottles. Make a bleach solution using one tablespoon of bleach per one quart of water. Fill your bottle, screw on the top, and allow to sit for two minutes. Pour out the solution and allow it to dry out completely.

Use water bottle cleansing tablets: Many companies make this type of product, or you can also get away with using effervescent denture cleaning tablets (i.e. Efferdent). Just fill your bottle with water, drop the tablet in, and allow to dissolve and sit for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the product's directions). Then rinse and enjoy your clean bottle.