Your water bottle is so gross, omg.
I mean, far be it for me to let my inner Adrian Monk shine through a little bit, but come on.
When’s the last thing you washed that thing? Do you know how gross your gym can be?
Just imagine—you picked up the gym’s jump rope and began sweating your booty off, quite literally, after you got to work…never mind the fact that the guy who used the jump rope before you was scratching and rubbing sweat and adjusting at every interval and never washed his hands before touching the rope again. And what’d you do after you finished with the jump rope? You touched the lid of your water bottle, and began to drink.
I’m overexaggerating a little bit, here, to be sure. And there are people who believe there’s a benefit to their immune system to not be so adamant about washing every little thing at every turn. (They might be right.) But, ultimately, should you ever get sick, you have to be vigilant about getting rid of the germs that you might’ve left behind while sick, and your water bottle is the place to start.
Your water bottle needs washing, and it’s pretty simple to do, no matter what kind of bottle you own.
It’s always a good idea to keep a gallon of white vinegar on hand—white because it’s the cheapest kind you can get, and doesn’t have any extra “flavors” that can alter the taste or scent of anything you use to clean with it—because it’s so multi-purpose. Sure, it’s great for food, but it’s also a great multi-purpose cleaner. Vinegar can be used to clean fresh produce to help remove residue from dirt [and possibly pesticides], and it can be used to neutralize and eliminate the bacteria that accumulates on your water bottle and its many pieces.
Your water bottle needs to be taken apart and have all the individual pieces put in a metal mixing bowl, or at least some kind of container that doesn’t react to the things put inside it. All the little rubber bands and straw holders and clasps and snaps need to come apart—if they can’t, or if you don’t know how to put them back together, it’s okay. Do your best, but make sure you get your cleaning solution deep within those grubby cracks of your water bottle.
Mix a third of a cup of white vinegar with 3 cups of water, and pour this inside of your water bottle and over the top of the pieces of your water bottle, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Why does vinegar work so well? Vinegar, also known as acetic acid—much like we know citrus fruit to contain “citric acid,” the same goes for vinegar—has a completely natural reaction to things like oil and bacteria, cutting through dirt and grime, suffocating it, and neutralizing it to prevent it from impacting your immune system. Vinegar won’t clean everything, nor should we expect it to, but it’s certainly a huge (and inexpensive!) help.
I know that some websites encourage you to use bleach to get this job done, but that’s a hard pass for me. If something you eat with (or eat, for that matter) requires bleach to get it clean, you probably should just give up on eating it.
While you’re waiting for the vinegar to work its magic, you’ll want to bring a kettle (or a pot) of water to a boil, and set it to the side.
For water bottles like mine—long, cylindrical, too narrow to stick your entire hand in, I like to use the kinds of bottle brushes traditionally made for cleaning baby bottles. They’re relatively cheap—two for $3—and are good for reaching the bottom of the bottle with a thick sponge and scrubbing the inner lining of the water bottle.
You won’t need (or want) to use soap for this, partly because it’s unnecessary and difficult to make sure all the bubbles are gone, but mostly because it’ll taste disgusting for a while if you use soap.
Use your bottle brush to scrub the insides using only water and the vinegar mixture, and rinse it out. Use regular water from the faucet to clean off the remaining parts of your water bottle.
(If your water bottle is made of thin plastic, then skip this step.) Rinse out the bowl you originally had everything resting in, and put your water bottle parts back in your bowl. Pour your hot water on top of everything, giving it a nice clean rinse. Dump the water out of the bowl and, once everything feels warm enough to hold, rinse off your bottle and its parts one last time, and put your bottle back together.
Now, your bottle is clean again!
…if only we could keep the gym this clean.