Female runner tying her shoe next to bottle of water.

By Assata McKenzie

I once had a client that complained about drinking water. Let’s call her Elle. Elle said she really didn’t enjoy drinking water during or even after our workout sessions because she didn’t like the taste. She explained that she didn’t feel refreshed after consuming water and she hated the smell of her water. In fact, it was the smell of her water that turned her off the most she said. When I questioned her further, she admitted that she had not cleaned her bottle since she purchased it over three months ago.

Elle felt, as many of us may have, that because there’s only water being placed in our water bottle there is no real need for cleaning. However, don’t you think contaminants are lurking from our own bacteria?  And when our bottle touches the surface of our water source, don’t you think that’s another source of bacterial growth because other water bottles could have touched that same surface before us?

Look at it this way, you wouldn’t like to eat a delicious meal from an unwashed plate, would you? If your answer is no, then why are most of us drinking our water from unwashed water bottles?

If we want to be truly healthy, then our drinking container should also be healthy.

Whether your drinking container is plastic, glass or stainless steel, and no matter what the nozzle of your chosen bottle is (straw, sport cap push-pull or wide mouth), these simple steps will help you keep your drinking container healthy and bacteria free.

  1. Clean your drinking container at the end of the day/after each use. Our mouths and hands are home to thousands of bacteria. Transference of bacteria to our drinking container is normal. However, the build-up of bacteria on the lip of our drinking container could be smelly and eventually harmful.
    • Use a mild soap with water solution when cleaning your drinking container and let it air dry.
  2. Use bottle brushes to clean your drinking container. Various sizes of brushes should be used for the various sections of your bottle.
    • Remember to clean your water bottle straw or nozzle, both inside and out.
    • Clean and rinse both the inside and the outside of your drinking container.
    • Clean all the crevices of your drinking container too. In fact, the more crevices your drinking container has, the more in-depth your cleaning will have to be. Keep this in mind when purchasing your next water bottle.
  3. Consider your water source and be very aware of the point where a drinking container could physically touch your source of water. For example, consider using water fountains with more hands free options. This will decrease the chance of cross contamination with the lip/entrance of your drinking container and the drinking container of the person ahead of you.

Hydrating should be a pleasurable, refreshing experience. When drinking from your drinking container, there should never be a weird smell or weird taste to your water. Weird smell and/or taste may be a sign of bacterial growth.

Following the simple tips above worked for my client Elle. Now she drinks more water because she cleans her drinking container regularly (I actually bought her a set of water bottle brushes from the dollar store and she says they’re the best). Consider sharing these tips with your fitness friends so they too can experience healthy hydrating.


Assata is passionately in love with all things fitness! She is a certified fitness professional and wellness consultant and she has been working in the corporate and commercial fitness industry for more than 10 years.

Graduating with a B.A. from the University of Toronto and a postgraduate diploma in workplace wellness and health promotion, Assata has made a career of helping others meet their fitness and wellness goals.