How to clean stainless steel bottles


Does your reusable water bottle sometimes smell a little funky? Don’t worry, it’s not your imagination – even stainless steel needs a good clean every now and again. Here’s how to keep your planet-saving bottle in optimum shape.

Remind me why I’m so good again?
As you know, stainless steel bottles are a great choice for the environment and also for your health. By choosing to reuse, you are saying no to plastic bottle madness and setting a fabulous example for your fellow earth-citizens. You are also protecting yourself and your family from hormone-altering chemicals. That’s why you’re awesome.

Stainless steel is a marvellous material – unlike plastic, it is non-porous and non-corrosive, which means no holes and fewer scratches for bacteria and fungi to grow in.

How often should I clean my stainless steel water bottle?
Bacteria and fungi are tenacious little buggers, so even stainless steel water bottles will provide them a home eventually. In case you’re wondering how the hell they get into your drink bottle, I’m sorry to tell you that they swim in there via your mouth and then they breed.

Simon Karlik, co-director of Aussie reusable containers company Cheeki, says stainless steel water bottles should be washed weekly if used on a daily basis.

So tell me how to clean stainless steel bottles
Simple: hot water and dishwashing liquid. Take off the lid (duh) and fill the bottle with water and suds and then get jiggy with a bottle brush. I have a great coconut-fibre bottle brush or you can buy custom made ones from the bottle companies. Make sure you give the lid and all its cracks and crevices a good scrub too. The whole process should take you about 30 seconds once a week.

Eugh: is that my bottle or my breath?
No-one wants to drink from a stinky bottle. Cheeki Steve says, “Stainless steel water bottles with odours should be given a very good wash with hot water and baking soda – a bottle brush should also be used to scrub the inside.”

FYI: I have been known to use second-hand bottles found in the charity shop, which I wash about ten times, then soak with bicarb, douse with vinegar and wash again. After that, they smell like… nothing.



  1. Susan says

    So funny I was just thinking yesterday I needed to wash everyone’s bottles. When they start to smell I get lazy and start reaching for a glass which is no good for me when I’m out and about so I need to get over it and get a washing system going. The kids’ ones I need to wash daily though, so much food and dirt on there!
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  2. Katy Potaty says

    Oh, this is awesome – I just found the cutest coral and orange stainless steel water bottle at St Vinnies the other day, but I was just planning on using it as a vase because I didn’t know how to clean it well enough to drink from. Nice timing, babe!

  3. Ryan Petersen says

    Use a kitchen brush if needed to gently scrub the inside of the bottle. It is typically not necessary to press very hard. Once you’ve finished washing your bottle, rinse it thoroughly with clean, warm water. Using a clean, dry cloth , wipe down the exterior of the bottle.

  4. Ben McEwing says

    Thanks for the article Jo. Also, you’re a great writer. So much joy and rhythm in your words. You made me smile. More than once. Like this :-) :-)

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