Vinegar and Your Water Bottle: The Dos and Don’ts | Delight Jar (2023)

Let’s just be honest. Washing out your reusable water bottle is a pain. We’re sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way, either. It doesn’t matter if said bottle is made of plastic or metal. With its narrow lip and wide opening, it’s next to impossible to squeeze your sponge inside your bottle when washing it.

What you might do is squirt a bit of dish soap in there, swirl it around with some water, and rinse. This works to a point. If you use your reusable bottle for anything than drinking water, though, you might find that odors and colors linger on the inside of your bottle. You don’t want any funky aftertaste when you go to use your bottle next, do you? Of course not!

Not only that, but bottles made of stainless steel or aluminum can get a bit of a buildup inside them. This may be iron, aluminum, or nickel deposits. While these deposits won’t cause you any ill health effects (we debunked that old Alzheimer’s disease/aluminum connection many articles ago), you can indeed taste them in your beverage. To say they taste pleasant would be a lie.

Besides metal deposits, metal bottles can also crust over inside. This is caused when you use hard water (aka the water that comes out of your kitchen sink) on the interior of the bottle. Yes, washing your bottle with soap and water could be causing the very issue you’re trying to remove with soap and water!

It’s no wonder why some reusable water bottle owners prefer using vinegar for a true, deep clean. Is vinegar safe to use on reusable water bottles? Indeed it is!

We will now share some vinegar dos and don’ts for your reusable water bottle.Vinegar and Your Water Bottle: The Dos and Don’ts | Delight Jar (1)

DO Keep Vinegar Handy in Your Pantry

First, let’s talk about all the vinegar types out there, because there are quite a lot. They include:

  • Raisin vinegar
  • Coconut vinegar
  • Beer vinegar
  • Cane vinegar
  • Malt vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • White vinegar

Many of these vinegar types can add flavor to meals, but you shouldn’t use them for cleaning. White vinegar is safe for this application, and it’s about the only one. With water, acetic acid, and grain-based ethanol as the top three ingredients, white vinegar makes for an effective cleaner. Some people do prefer apple cider vinegar for cleaning, but that’s the only other type of vinegar we’d recommend.

Once you buy your vinegar, you’re going to want to properly stash it. You should keep it in a dark, cool environment such as a cabinet or pantry. Refrigerators are okay, too, but make sure the vinegar stays away from your fridge light.

DON’T Just Use Vinegar for Cleaning, but Water, Too

Above, we mentioned that water is one of the top ingredients in white vinegar. Still, trust us when we say it’s not enough water for cleaning. You’re going to have to dilute the vinegar with more water.

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First, you should turn the faucet water hot and then rinse the bottle. Once you do that, you can add your vinegar and water mixture. It’s recommended you dump in white vinegar until the bottle is one-fifths full. Then, pour water in until the bottle is totally full.

Alternately, you can fill a cup (not the bottle) with water and then dump in the white vinegar by the tablespoon. Don’t exceed two tablespoons, as that’s too much.

DO Keep the Vinegar in the Bottle for a While

Admittedly, if you’re using the first cleaning method we outlined, you shouldn’t leave the vinegar in the bottle for too long. It’s recommended you dump out the mixture after 10 minutes.

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If you filled a cup of water and then added a tablespoon or two of white vinegar, then you should let the bottle rest for much longer, at least overnight. Don’t put the bottle in the fridge, though. Instead, keep it somewhere cool and dark, sort of like how you store your vinegar bottles at home. There’s no need to hide the reusable bottle in a pantry, but definitely stash it somewhere out of direct sunlight.

DON’T Use a Sponge to Clean the Bottle Out

Once the reusable bottle has sat for the appropriate time as outlined above, you’re going to want to clean it out. Rinsing with tap water once, while important at this stage, won’t get rid of all the vinegar residue. You’ll have to continuously rinse, but you’ll also want to scrub the inside of the bottle to ensure that the vinegar is gone.

After all, you don’t want the very unpleasant surprise of opening your reusable water bottle, taking a sip, and tasting white vinegar

  • Vinegar to Clean Your Water Bottle? The Dos and Don’ts
  • Vinegar to Clean Your Water Bottle? The Dos and Don’ts

! It won’t harm your health in small quantities, but it tastes terrible.

In the intro, we mentioned how annoying it can be to try and get a sponge inside a reusable bottle. The opening is so small and your sponge doesn’t often want to fold over so it can (maybe) fit inside.

That’s why you should use a toothbrush instead. Yes, that’s right, a toothbrush. This oral hygiene item can easily reach inside even a small bottle opening and get all the way to the bottom, scrubbing away any leftover vinegar residue.

Of course, be sure that you use a brand new toothbrush, not the one that’s been sitting in your bathroom for a few weeks. It should also be soft, especially if you have a reusable bottle made of stainless steel. This metal can easily get scratched. That’s not a huge deal if you’re cleaning the interior of the bottle, but still, soft toothbrushes are best.Vinegar and Your Water Bottle: The Dos and Don’ts | Delight Jar (2)

DO Know There Are Plenty of Ways to Keep a Reusable Water Bottle Clean!

Maybe you don’t like the way white vinegar smells. Perhaps you don’t have any handy. Can you still give your reusable water bottle the thorough cleaning it needs? Yes, absolutely!

Denture Cleaners

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Denture cleaners can be used on both stainless steel and plastic reusable water bottles. You simply fill the bottle up with water, toss the tablet in, and let it do its thing. Follow the instructions on the tablet box about how long you should let the tablet sit. Rinse thoroughly.

Bottle Cleaning Tablets

If denture cleaners sound a little too weird for you, did you know there are cleaning tablets made specifically for reusable water bottles? It’s true! Next time you go grocery shopping or open your Amazon app, check it out. There are plenty of inexpensive options that will clean your bottle easier than you could by hand.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a third option. Since it’s antibacterial, it makes for a great skin treatment and household cleaner. Admittedly, the smell of tea tree oil can be kind of strong. Some people like it while others don’t. If the aroma is too much for you, dilute the oil with water. Again, make sure you rinse thoroughly, since you certainly should not be drinking tea tree oil.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide, aka that stuff you use on bad scrapes and cuts, is especially adept at removing mold. Hopefully, you haven’t let your reusable bottle get to the point that it’s moldy, but if it is, you know what to do. Fill the bottle and leave it be until the morning. Then rinse out all traces of the hydrogen peroxide before drinking from the bottle.

Antibacterial Mouthwash

Antibacterial mouthwash serves the same purpose as tea tree oil or hydrogen peroxide. Plus, if you accidentally consume some, it won’t be so dangerous. Just like always, rinse thoroughly after cleaning.

Baking Soda

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By mixing water with baking soda, you can also effectively clean the interior of your water bottle. Disregard the advice to mix vinegar and baking soda together, since that’s a great way to propel your bottle and break it (seriously, you can create a makeshift rocket with vinegar and baking soda!).


As an absolute last resort, there’s also bleach. There are several reasons we don’t advocate using bleach unless totally necessary. First, it can ruin plastic or stainless steel water bottles. It’s known for being quite corrosive, which is no good for metal. Second, if you were to accidentally drink any residue, you’d have to go to the emergency room.

By combining sodium hypochlorite solution or liquid bleach and water in a 1:10 ratio, you can safely use this to clean your bottle.

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It can be a struggle to clean the inside of your reusable water bottle, be it made from plastic or stainless steel. You shouldn’t just ignore the problem, as you never can quite tell what’s lingering in there. From mold to metal deposits and hard water stains to bacteria, you need to get into a regular bottle-cleaning routine.

White vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) when diluted with water can effectively clean reusable water bottles. Don’t have any white vinegar handy? No problem! Denture and bottle cleaning tablets, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, mouthwash, baking soda, and bleach are all options, too.

Now that you know how to clean your water bottle, it’s time to scrub yours down inside and out!




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