Do Not Let Your Reusable Water Bottle Poison You



By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder


I don’t know about you, but I usually have a reusable water bottle in my car when I am driving or hiking. Doing this makes it easy for me to reach my daily water intake requirement, prevent headaches and hunger pangs as well as avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Plus, several brands of bottled water have contained “microplastics” that may cause health issues when the water is consumed.

(Would You Like Some Plastic With That Bottled Water?)

Hydration is important.

A recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published by eBioMedicine, found evidence strongly suggesting that not maintaining significant hydration increases the likelihood of aging faster, developing chronic diseases and an earlier death. Basically, if you want to achieve happy and healthy longevity, you need to be hydrated!

Depending on our sex and other factors such as age, our bodies are made of about 60 percent water on average. Furthermore, water is one of the six basic nutrients you need to live. The others are protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, but water is the only nutrient where absence will cause death within days.

I’m sure many of you reading this also have a reusable water bottle that goes everywhere with you. And with Stanley Cups going viral just a few years ago, perhaps you have a preteen, teenager or college-aged child who is a dedicated user of one of the trendiest reusable water bottle brands in the world right now.

Be proactive about hydration, but do not let your reusable water poison you.

I came across a recent story about a young woman named Kae who kept getting sick due to mold poisoning from not properly cleaning her reusable Owala brand water bottle.

She explained that she forgot to take the silicone stopper out of her bottle, which she suspected was the culprit of her illness,” according to an article from the New York Post.

Kae described her sickness as having a cold that never went away. She said she had bronchitis and a sinus infection that followed. She also experienced an extremely painful sore throat despite undergoing multiple rounds of antibiotics. It wasn’t until she properly cleaned her water bottle that her health improved. The silicone stopper of her bottle was covered in mold.

“She said she cleaned the bottle, followed by the lid, which she had to Google regarding how to clean properly, and then discovered that people in online forums like Reddit said the silicone piece of her water bottle had to be removed,” (New York Post).

This is a mistake any one of us could have made.

Not properly cleaning our reusable water bottles by not removing certain parts when cleaning or just not cleaning the bottle often enough is not all that uncommon. This can put a person at risk for mold or other illness.

“Mold can cause many health effects. For some people, mold can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash. People with asthma or who are allergic to mold may have severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung disease may get infections in their lungs from mold,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Mold will grow where there is moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been a flood. Mold grows on paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.”

I think the CDC needs to add reusable water bottles to the list.

In this story from 2022, a woman showed in a very shocking video how much black mold came out of her husband’s water bottle when she cleaned it. 

“The video was accompanied by an on-screen caption ‘POV: when your Husbands always ill. Tip of the day: clean your bottle,’” according to a report from Newsweek.

“In perhaps one of the most terrifying comments shared on the post, one user told a story of the repercussions of not cleaning out a drinking bottle: ‘A friend of mine's foot went black and they ended up in hospital with blood poisoning, hospital tested their bottle, and yep, it was the culprit,’ they wrote.”

In another report, from the Daily Mail, another person shares the discovery of black mold in his reusable water bottle. 

“Found some black mold in my water bottle and couldn't fully wash it out. Gotta pick and choose your battles, ppl. I choose to stay hydrated,” he commented on social media.”

This is not a battle you have to choose. You can safely hydrate if you are proactive.

I think we can all agree that it is a good idea to dismantle the water bottle completely when washing it, but the ongoing debate is how often do we need to clean our water bottles? Some microbiologists suggest daily or at the very minimum once a week. It really is a personal choice, but I think the following study will give you some insight and help you make that decision.

One study found that reusable water bottles contain 40,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat! We put our reusable water bottles on gym floors and carry them through airports. If you think about all of the communal surfaces they touch, the results of this study are actually not that surprising. So the cleanliness of the outside of the water bottle is just as important as the inside. Here are some cleaning tips for your reusable water bottle.

  • Soak your reusable water bottle and all its parts in soapy water or distilled vinegar. Use very hot water when rinsing.
  • If you have a dishwasher, run your bottle through the cycle after dismantling it. Most reusable water bottles are dishwasher safe. 
  • Scrub with a sponge or bottle brush on both the inside and outside (diligently wash every part)
  • Dry the bottle and parts with a clean dish towel or paper towel. Do not just leave wet in a drying rack.
  • If you are unsure how to properly clean the water bottle, look for tutorials for the brand of your water bottle. A lot of companies are providing very detailed instructions, because there have been incidents of mold overgrowth.


Don't forget sippy cups.

There have been incidents of mold found in sippy cups and bottles. I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to remove all parts and clean separately.

What is the best material for a reusable water bottle?

I personally think glass and metal are best. Plastic, even BPA-free, is usually not recommended. I highly recommend checking out this informative article


Stay happy, healthy and hydrated.


Enjoy your healthy life!


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.          


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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