Black Mold in Your Water Bottle: How to Spot & Remove it

JULY 25TH, 2019
Black Mold in Your Water Bottle: How to Spot & Remove it

When you’re cleaning up in the kitchen after a meal, it’s pretty obvious to see which dishes need to be washed and which do not.

Generally, anything that has been used gets loaded into the sink or dishwasher for cleaning after that one meal, but what about your reusable water bottle?

You know… the one you bring to work every day, or the one that sits in your gym bag waiting for your next workout; how often are you cleaning those?

Reusable water bottles can fall in a grey area in terms of needing to be washed after use. We say to ourselves, it’s only water, and we use the same bottle for an entire week without thinking to clean it.

Without staining or leftovers, water bottles make the decision to wash them a bit more unclear. Some coloured or patterned water bottles can make it difficult to see what the inside of the bottle looks like, but if you only knew what could be dwelling in there…

Enter, Black Mold

Black mold is a type of fungus, a class of microorganisms that are neither plant nor animal. More than 100,000 unique types of mold exist; some are harmless, and others are toxic.

Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold, is one of the most toxic mold species. And, if you aren’t cleaning your reusable water bottle properly, it is one of the culprits who might be living in there.

Black mold is greenish-black in colour and is usually accompanied by a musty and earthy odour, described to smell like rotting leaves or dirt.

water spout with mold growth
Water spout with mold growth – Original photo by Thomson Research Associates, Inc.

Mold grows best in dark, damp environments, exactly like the environment your water bottle provides. Even though individual mold spores are microscopic (meaning they are so small they cannot be seen with the human eye), if enough mold spores grow in one place, they can become visible.

So, by the time you might notice a thin black film forming on your mouthpiece, there are already a large amount of spores present. 

black mold in water bottle
Black mold growing on the underside of lid of a children’s water bottle – Original photo by Thomson Research Associates, Inc.

Is Black Mold in a Water Bottle Dangerous?

There is a good chance the mold spores growing on your reusable water bottle aren’t harmful, but why take the chance?

It doesn’t take much work to keep your bottle from growing mold, although you’ll have to start cleaning it on a more regular basis. 

Importance of Proper Cleaning

To prevent mold spores from making a home in your water bottle, we recommend cleaning your reusable after every couple uses (if you can’t clean it every single time).

This is a good practice to employ even if you aren’t seeing visible mold because mold isn’t your only concern. Each time you use your water bottle, you introduce bacteria to the mouthpiece. You can also transfer viruses through your mouthpiece into your water bottle.

All these microscopic pests thrive in wet environments, so proper cleaning of your water bottle will help prevent unwanted party guests in your water. 

How to Clean a Reusable Water Bottle

Using a Bottle Brush to Scrub the Inside 

Fill your sink with hot water and dish soap. Leave your water bottle to soak in the soapy water for some time and then use a bottle brush to reach the bottom and edges of your bottle and scrub thoroughly. Rinse the water bottle with hot water, before allowing it to air dry. This method works well for plastic water bottles. 

Grab some Vinegar 

Studies have shown that white vinegar can effectively kill 82% of mold spores, in addition to viruses and bacteria species. Add a mixture of white vinegar and water to fill up your bottle. Let the solution soak inside your bottle overnight. In the morning, wash your water bottle vigorously with soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly to ensure you get rid of the taste of vinegar. 

Boiling Water for Metal Water Bottles

Metal water bottles require special attention. To clean properly, fill your metal water bottle with boiling water. This will help eliminate any odour or worse, mold, that is growing within the bottle. After allowing the water to sit for several hours or overnight, wash the inside of the bottle out thoroughly with hot, soapy water. 

Consistency is Key

Now that you know how to clean your reusable water bottle properly and how to spot when you really need to, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. We recommend cleaning after every few uses, but the more frequent you can make the effort to do so, the safer your water bottle will be from black mold and other unwanted microorganisms. 

How Antimicrobial Technology Can Help

By adding a safe and effective antimicrobial technology to reusable water bottle parts during the manufacturing process, the growth of odour and stain causing bacteria, mold and mildew are prevented.

Adding an antimicrobial isn’t a substitute for regular cleaning and it does not protect users or others against bacterial, viruses, germs or other disease-causing organisms. However, it does provide piece of mind confidence in knowing your item will stay cleaner and fresher in between regular cleanings.

Our Antimicrobial Expertise

Thomson Research Associates (TRA) is a global leader in the field of antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial, and anti-dust mite treatments (see regulatory information), providing antimicrobial protection to finished products for over 60 years.

We are committed to helping our clients deliver fresh, durable and innovative products by providing antimicrobial additives and treatments for fabrics, polymers, foams, coatings and more.

Our ultimate goal is to satisfy our clients’ specific needs through excellence in service, science, and support. Find out how we work with you through our scientific testing laboratory, highly-qualified technical and regulatory specialists.

We offer a selection of products, including options that are US EPA registered, BPR compliant and OEKO-TEX® listed. Please refer to product label or contact us directly for region-specific approved end-uses.

Furthermore, acknowledging our social responsibility, we have partnered with bluesign® in our joint initiative for the removal of harmful substances and practices from the manufacturing process.

Learn more about us or contact us for more information.

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