How to keep your water bottle and coffee mug sparking clean

Ditching disposable water bottles and coffee cups seems easy for people who have been doing the BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) thing forever, but let’s be honest: changing any habits is hard. For me, the struggle was to remember bringing my mug with me all the time. I can’t count the number of times I went out to lunch with colleagues, grabbing just my phone and wallet, only to remember later that I ALWAYS want coffee after a big lunch. Now I remind myself everywhere I go: phone, wallet, keys, and mug. I also keep a second reusable cup in my office in case I forget to bring mine from home.

Today I tackle another common challenge for people who are just starting to carry their own water bottle or travel mug: how to keep them clean and smell fresh.

1. Know yourself better: buy the bottle that works for you. 

If you are just starting out and need to purchase new bottles: think about your own habits and what kind of product will work for you.

  • A bulky water bottle won’t fit in your small purse? Maybe a collapsable bottle is the solution.
  • Do you have the tendency to leave dirty bottle in the sink for days and let it get stinky? Yes? Consider getting one that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
  • Can’t stand the taste of coffee in your water? Perhaps investing in a bottle just for water and a seperate one just for coffee will help.

2. Get the right tools for the job.

For routine cleaning, a cleaning brush might be all you need. Some companies even sell brushes that are specifically designed to clean their bottles, like Klean Kanteen. An old toothbrush can also do the job for bottles that aren’t too deep, or people with small hands 😛

For several years, I owned a Swell bottle (until I lost it, RIP), which has a narrow mouth that was hard to reach into. These bean sponges saved the day! Just throw them in the bottle with a little soap, shake shake, dump, and done. I let the sponges dry completely after each use, and they have lasted me FOREVER. 

3. Use the holy trinity of household cleaning

Baking soda, vinegar, and soap, obv! This isn’t necessary every day, but for the occasional deep clean:

  • Wash your bottle first with soap
  • Add vinegar or baking soda to hot water
  • Pour the mixture into the bottle, and shake vigorously
  • Let stand (I found 30 minutes usually enough) and rinse
  • If necessary, soak your bottle lid and cap in this mixture too

4. Step up your game for tough stains and odors

If this above method just doesn’t work because you’ve let your bottle go too long without cleaning (haven’t we all?), then it’s time for hydrogen peroxide or water cleaning tablets. You can:

  • pour 1/4 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide in the bottle, close the lid tightly, shake, and rinse
  • try a denture cleaning tablet or another commercially made water cleaning tablet, following instructions on the package

My husband bought me these tablets (that is true love, you guys), which took off years-old coffee stains from my bottle like a charm.

Left – I didn’t let the solution sit long enough the first time around, which left a weird sliver of stain. Right – I used a second tablet to clean off the last bit of stain because, who doesn’t love a before and after?!

5. Don’t forget the nooks and crannies

I had no idea the gasket in your bottle cap can smell too! Watch this Youtube video to learn how to take the gasket out and properly clean it.

Phew, who knew there was so much to say about cleaning water bottles?! Tell me, do you have tips that I missed? And other tips that have helped you BYOB consistently?