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In an ideal world, our cycling water bottles would magically transfer directly from our bottle cages to warm water and dish soap. But in reality, half-full water bottles roll under car seats or get stuffed in gear bags. How do you save your favorite bidon when it’s succumbed to a sticky mold attack? Follow these simple tips for quick, easy water bottle cleaning.
- Wash them out immediately. Some dish soap and warm water will do the trick. Use a bottle brush (found in most kitchen and big box stores) to access hard to reach places or grooves inside the plastic. This helps remove any mold that’s beginning to form. Be sure to include the cap in this process. Pop the top and be sure the soapy water flows through the valve. This will clean and disinfect the bottle for its next use.
- If this isn’t enough and the bottle still smells like the liquid that was inhabiting it, try cleaning the water bottle by adding a tablespoon or two of baking soda, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Let it sizzle and fizz on the counter for 30-60 minutes. Then use a bottle brush to scrape the sides and into the plastic grooves, then squirt the mixture out through the cap.
- Resist the urge to engage in biological warfare against the bottle. Avoid the dishwasher, which can melt the plastic or affect the integrity of the bottle. Remember, plastic, even the BPA-free kind, still leaches nasty chemicals when heated. Cleaning your cycling water bottles with bleach is also a bad idea, as it can be difficult to thoroughly rinse out, despite your best intentions.
- Leave your bottles open while they dry. Upside down in a dish drainer works well. I like to leave mine open on a shelf until it’s time to ride again.
- Know when it’s time to let go. Even high-end bottles have a life span. Do yourself a favor and chuck them when either the plastic becomes soft from repeated washing and baking in the sun or there’s visible mold or a funk that won’t resolve using the steps listed above.
For a bottle that’s designed to be antimicrobial, insulated and BPA-free, my pick goes to the Camelbak Podium Chill, my go-to bottle for summer cycling.
What are your favorite hacks for how to clean water bottles? Share ’em below!