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How To Clean Stainless Steel Water Bottles [How Often & Best Methods]

how often to clean stainless steel water bottle

A stainless steel water bottle is a fantastic, sustainable option for your everyday water bottle. Robust, reusable, good quality and with no toxins likely to leach out.

The fact that a stainless steel water bottle will last a very long time (mine has been going years now) means you’ll have to clean it a good number of times.

Cleaning your stainless steel water bottle regularly will help maintain the quality of the bottle, increase its reusability and the use you get out of it.

Let’s learn how to clean stainless steel water bottles properly and how often this should be done? We’ll also take a look at the best three methods for deep cleaning so it’s as good as new.

How to wash stainless steel water bottle

The best and easiest way to wash a stainless steel water bottle is with warm, soapy water and a good reusable biodegradable sponge.

Nothing more, nothing less. This is what I do.

For a daily clean, swill out and wash all parts with warm, soapy water.

Make sure the drinking spout, cap and threading where the cap screws down to are all cleaned. It’s these parts that are most likely to get dirty and grimy.  

You’ll also need to clean the inside of the bottle. It may be difficult to reach the bottom of the container, particularly if you haven’t got a soft bottle brush, which I haven’t.

So I like to fill it half way with hot, soapy water, put the top on and give it a shake for 10-30 seconds.

Once clean, leave it to air dry on a drying rack and it’s good to go again.

No need to make things more complicated than needed, this simple and sustainable method is the everyday way. You can apply this method to when cleaning other metal drinks bottles.

stainless steel food containers and water bottle
My stainless steel drinks bottle and food containers in work

3 alternative ways on how to clean a stainless steel drinks bottle

The everyday wash with hot, soapy water is a great way to keep on top of your water bottle cleanliness. If you do this very regularly, you might not have to give it a deep clean at all.  

If your stainless steel water bottle doesn’t get an everyday clean, hasn’t had a proper wash for a while or you want to give it a regular deep clean, here are the best ways to do that. You can use these to clean a metal drinks bottle too.

1.    How to clean stainless steel water bottle with baking soda

Baking soda is one of those super compounds that has multiple, beneficial uses. From it’s primary job in cooking and baking, to health use and household cleaning. It’s even great for cleaning the oven and is slightly less harsh than other alkaline cleaners including borax substitute and soda crystals.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate and bicarbonate of soda, has disinfectant properties, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, can neutralise acids and is good at removing odours and bad smells.

What do you need:

  • Teaspoon of baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Bottle brush (optional)

What to do:

  • Put a teaspoon of baking soda into your empty steel water bottle
  • Fill the rest up with warm water
  • Option 1: Scrub the inside of the bottle and lid with the bicarbonate mixture and leave to sit for a little while (at least 15 minutes) and rinse out
  • Option 2: Leave the mixture to sit in the bottle overnight. In the morning rinse your bottle out with water

2.    Wash a stainless steel bottle with white vinegar

White vinegar is also a very useful household item with multiple uses, especially with eco friendly cleaning.

It’s non-toxic, mildly acidic, a good disinfectant and a fantastic cleaner of stainless steel and glass. It’s been used as a staple resource for hundreds, possible thousands of years, for sterilising wounds, fighting infections and cleaning sores.  

What do you need:

  • Two tablespoons of white vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Bottle brush (optional)

What to do:

  • Put two tablespoons of white vinegar into your empty stainless steel water bottle
  • Fill your bottle half way up with warm water and screw the cap back on
  • Option 1: Give it a good shake to make sure the vinegar is well distributed and comes into contact with all areas inside the bottle
  • Option 2: Use your soft bottle brush to give the inside of the bottle a good scrub, as well as the cap and drinking spout
  • Pour the vinegar and water mixture out and swill your bottle with fresh water
  • Leave to air dry on a drying rack

3.    Stainless steel cleaning tablets

Cleaning tablets are a very simple way to clean your steel water bottle.

The good thing is that you can get all natural, biodegradable cleaning tablets that will get rid of all grime and odours. The natural cleaning tablets are often made from a mixture of baking soda, citric acid, hydrogen peroxide and other ingredients.

They’re an effervescent tablet that will fizz away and fully dissolve in the water. The negative side is that they often come individually wrapped in plastic.

What do you need:

  • 1 cleaning tablet
  • Water

What to do:

  • Fill the bottle with warm water
  • Drop the cleaning tablet in the water
  • Let it stand for at 15-30 minutes
  • Put the lid on the bottle and give it a little shake
  • Empty the bottle, give it a rinse and let it air dry off
stainless steel food boxes on wooden board
My stainless steel drink and lunch box collection

Can I put stainless steel in the dishwasher?

Another alternative to deep clean your stainless steel water bottle is to pop it in the dishwasher.

Generally speaking, stainless steel is dishwasher safe but it’s crucial to check that your bottle is dishwasher safe.

Dishwasher get seriously hot and this may damage the bamboo part of the lid (if yours has bamboo like mine) and the little silicone ring that prevents leaks. I personally wouldn’t put my stainless steel water bottle in the dishwasher, but that is me.

If you’ve checked it all out and you’re are fine to put your stainless steel water bottle in the dishwasher, remove the lid and another other parts and put these in the dishwasher separately alongside your bottle.

How often should you clean your stainless steel water bottle?

In an ideal world, you should clean your stainless steel water bottle after every use.

If you use your water bottle every day, you should wash it out every day.

Cleaning your stainless steel water bottle every day will keep it super clean and sterile.

Being completely honest, I have a 304 stainless steel water bottle by WAKEcup that I use every day but I don’t clean it every day. Shocking I know, but for me, it’s absolutely fine.

The reason this works for me is that I only use my metal bottle for water. Nothing else at all.

To just tend to refill my bottle with water and put it in the fridge overnight with my activated charcoal filter in the bottle, ready for nice, cold, filtered water in the morning.

So, how often should I clean my metal bottle out then?

I clean my stainless steel water bottle out once every 3-5 days with warm, soapy water.

stainless steel water bottle and activated charcoal stick

Cleaning your metal water bottle more often

If you use your stainless steel bottle for coffee, a daily smoothie or some kind of fruit juice, you should definitely clean it out after every use.

For tip top maintenance though and in an ideal world, whether you use your bottle for just water or another type of drink, you should clean your bottle out each time after a day of use. This will help to keep the bottle in great condition for longer.

It’s good practice to give your stainless steel bottle a deep clean every so often. If you’re dedicated this will be a weekly deep clean, if you’re a bit slack you can revert to a monthly deep clean which still works very well.

You need a deep clean every so often as bacteria love a moist environment – and water bottles offer these in great numbers.

Although stainless steel is a difficult material for bacteria to take a hold on, parts of the bottles such as the ridges, threading and under the cap may present an opportunity.

Major benefits of stainless steel for a water bottle

Along with glass, a stainless steel bottle is arguably the best, most sustainable water bottle material you can get.

There are a number of great reasons and benefits to why stainless steel is the go-to material in professional food kitchens.

Top tip – look out for the 304 stamp mark on a stainless steel water bottle. This means the bottle is made from food grade stainless steel, and is one of the best qualities. Furthermore, stainless steel is environmentally friendly and highly recyclable.

A major benefit to stainless steel is that it can be cleaned and sterilised very easily. This is largely thanks to the chromium layer on the surface of stainless steel that does two things.

Firstly, this layer stops the material from rusting. Secondly, it gives the material naturally anti-microbial resistance. This layer creates an extremely smooth surface with no micro-pores that harbour bacteria and mould.

my easy to clean stainless steel water bottle at the gym
My fantastic, easy to clean stainless steel water bottle

Is a metal bottle better than plastic?

In my opinion, a metal steel bottle is way better than a plastic version.

Benefits of a stainless steel bottle over plastic include better durability and reusability, safer, can be made from recycled material, easier to recycle after, and it’s easier to clean.

Have you ever noticed discolouration in a plastic water bottle or mould growing on the inside?

Have you ever put a chilli con carne in some plastic tupperware only to have it stained that orange colour forever? This is a good reason why you should go for stainless steel food containers too.

This is because on a micro-level, the plastic surface is open to foreign bodies and particles. Things can leach into plastic, and nasty things and chemicals can also leach out. You don’t get this problem with stainless steel at all.

If you’re interested in buying a metal bottle, take a look at my best stainless steel bottles here.

Wrap up on stainless steel water bottle cleaning

And there we have it.

I hope you’ve learned how to clean a stainless steel water bottle too. This couldn’t be easier. Warm, soapy water is more than fine for a simple clean.

If you’re looking for a deeper clean on your metal drinks bottle, there are three good methods that don’t take long at all. Alternatively, most stainless steel bottles are fine to be put in the dishwasher.

Depending on what you’re drinking, you should clean your stainless steel water bottle once every 1 to 5 days if you just use water.

No excuses now not to keep your bottle in top condition for it to last you years and years – bye bye plastic!


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Ben & Murphy Peaks Mam Tor

Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.

Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.