Keep your kids healthy each year with expert tips on how to clean a water bottle!

Personalized water bottles and blank water bottles are important back-to-school supplies as the seasonal flu and other viruses circulate each year. Water bottles help keep children hydrated so they can think better and learn faster. But if a bottle isn’t properly cleaned after each use, it can harbor nasty germs that could make your child sick.

Adults also face health risks from dirty water bottles. When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned the one on your desk, in your car or in your gym bag? Rinsing it periodically with plain water doesn’t eliminate bacteria.

How to clean a water bottle

how to clean a waterbottle

To get the facts on how to clean a water bottle I asked the experts at the Family and Consumer Sciences division of the Ohio State University Extension Office. Extension Educator Kate Shumaker said the best way to wash/clean a plastic water bottle will depend on the bottle itself.

“If it is top-rack dishwasher safe, then the high-water temperature and heat drying of a dishwasher can be beneficial,” Shumaker said.

How to clean a water bottle

If your water bottle is not top-rack dishwasher safe or you’re just not sure, Shumaker recommends these steps after each use:

  • Hand-wash it with hot water and dish detergent.
  • Remove any parts of the bottle that can be taken apart.
  • Use a scrub brush or dishcloth to clean the outside of the bottle.
  • Use a small bottle brush to clean the inside of the bottle, as well as any straws or drinking spouts.

Here is a helpful video that shows how to properly clean your water bottle:

Sanitize that smelly water bottle

Clean a water bottle with vinegar

If your water bottle develops a funny odor or the liquid you drink from it has an odd taste, it might be time to sanitize it, Shumaker advised.

  • Fill the bottle with one part vinegar to five parts water.
  • Let the mixture sit in the bottle overnight.
  • Rinse well.

Water Bottle Cleaning - Drying

Shumaker said it’s very important to let water bottles dry properly after cleaning.

“Even though this is a ‘water’ bottle, trapped moisture can be the enemy here,” she said. “Wash and allow the bottle to completely air dry between uses. Do not put the bottle away or re-assemble it when it’s wet.”

Custom Water Bottles

The majority of our customers at Totally Promotional order personalized water bottles with their logo or message for various occasions. We suggest hand-washing these school logo bottles instead of placing them in a dishwasher to keep the custom designs looking their best. We also do not advise using boiling water to clean most plastic bottles to prevent melting and/or other damage.

Clean. Drink. Succeed

Clean Water Bottle

Does your school have an athletic center or designated place for student-athletes to work out? Consider furnishing each athlete with water bottles printed with your school mascot to quench their thirst.

Kids also love getting water bottles with their school logo as rewards for good grades and attendance. Perhaps your school’s athletic or academic booster clubs would support a project to give customized water bottles to each student.

Hydration is key to good health but not if you’re drinking from a dirty water bottle. Follow our easy suggestions and enjoy a great school year for you and your child!

For more on the subject of water bottles and hydration in schools, be sure to read School water bottles: A vital lesson for educators | Totally Inspired ( 

This blog was originally published Aug. 3, 2018, and updated on June 14, 2023.


Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.

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