One of the perks of racing with a big family is that there is no shortage of reusable water bottles in our household. It seems that an increasing number of races are giving away water bottles, such as the stainless steel variety, in registration bags or as finisher prizes.  In one weekend of racing, our family recently brought home new stainless steel, Klean Kanteen knock-offs.

As much as I love reusable water bottles and the eco, tree hugging-save the planet factor, I really don’t like how manky and gross they can get, especially when I find them in backpacks or sports bags growing funky stuff because the kids forgot to put them in the sink.

Cleaning water bottles is almost as fun as folding mounds of laundry.  Do you have an idea how much I love to fold laundry?  It’s hard to quantify negative numbers, right?

And somehow, with four active kids, there is never just one water bottle to clean out.  It never surprises me to find eight or more water bottles sitting next to (because let’s be real, it takes a lot of extra work to make it into) the sink.

To make life a bit easier, I’ve discovered that there are some ways to make cleaning water bottles a bit easier.  You can also use these tricks for cleaning out Hydrapak or Camelbak bladders that insert into hydration vests or backpacks.

How to Clean Reusable Sport Water Bottles

1.  Invest in a baby bottle brush.  Yep, and you thought you were done with the baby days.  Sure, you can buy fancy OEM brushes to match the brands, but you can also just buy a generic baby brush in the baby section at the local grocery store.  I keep one by the sink so I don’t have to dig around and look for it, in order to clean the endless pile of water bottles that I’m sure to encounter on a given day.

2.  Avoid the dishwasher.  As tempting as it is to throw a water bottle into the dishwasher, especially if you’re short on time, don’t.  If dirty stuff gets into the bottle and caked on, it can be even harder to clean.  Some water bottle companies warn against putting them into the dishwasher anyway.  I think putting them in the dishwasher can also take off paint and who knows what’s in the paint–you surely don’t want to be consuming it when you take a swig after your next run.

3.  Add a bit of soap and soak.  If you don’t have time to clean a bottle and it’s gross because it had something other than water in it, add a drop of dishsoap, swirl it around, and let it soak until you can come back to it.

4.  Reach for vinegar.  Vinegar is an au natural germ killer.  Go ahead and put in a tablespoon or two of vinegar into the water bottle.  You can use your bottle brush to get it all around the interior surface.  Let it soak, even overnight.  Rinse it well after you are done soaking it.

5.  Grab some baking soda.  Baking soda is another natural cleaner.  It is known to soak up odors.  You can combine some baking soda with the vinegar for super cleaning and disinfectant action.

6.  Buy Specialty Bottle Wash or Tabs.  You can also buy sport bottle wash or cleaning tabs (some people also swear by denture cleaning tablets, though I’ve never used them) that are made of food safe ingredients that are designed to get your bottles clean.  
Do you have any tips to share for cleaning out water bottles?  What works for your family?

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