Great! You’re doing a much better job drinking more water these days. How well are you doing at keeping your water bottle safe?

We’re all looking for health on the go, so it’s no surprise that sales of bottled water have skyrocketed in the past few years. While tempting to refill those disposable bottles over and over, multiple studies have shown that’s not a good idea. Having your own, personal water bottle to refill is more popular than ever, but you have to be careful there, too.

As we embrace the health benefits of drinking water everywhere we go, here’s our guide to staying as safe and hydrated as possible.

Amp Up Your Defense

Bacteria from your hands and mouth cover and infiltrate your personal refillable bottle with each use. Just like dirty at-home glasses and dishes, you must clean yours daily.

  • Throw them in the dishwasher (check for dishwasher safety first)
  • Hand wash with warm soapy water and dry overnight
  • Use a weak bleach solution (1 T per quart of water); let sit in the bottle for two minutes, then pour out and allow to dry completely
  • A mixture using denture cleaning tablets can remove food particles and bacteria

If your water bottle has a narrow mouth, spout or straw, get inside it with a special brush, like this one from Redecker. If your bottle has a twist-top, scrub the threaded cap to make sure the cracks are clear and clean.

Find Your Match 

You’ll drink more water if your bottle matches your lifestyle and is easy to reuse and refill safely.

  • Stainless steel bottles are lightweight and generally free of lead, paint, and harmful toxins; we like Kleen Kanteen, Hydroflask, or S’well
  • Aluminum bottles are also very portable; brands such as Swiss-made Sigg ensure an inner lining that is free of toxins and volatile compounds
  • Glass bottles wrapped in silicone are all the rage, from companies like Lifefactory, EcoVessel, Takeya or bkr; they’re heavier, but offer pure taste, no chemical leaching, and protection from breakage
  • BPA-free plastic water bottles are generally reason to exhale, but note that one recent study claimed the chemical used to make BPA-free containers is just as harmful. Good Housekeeping ranked its top BPA-free water bottles, which include Nalgene and Camelbak.

Warning: Choose to Recycle

Disposable, plastic water bottles can decompose in heat and during washings to leak chemicals from the plastic, which is linked to severe health problems. Also, continuous refilling allows your water bottle to be a host for bacteria, which can even cause you to feel like you have food poisoning, according to some doctors. Bottom line, if you buy bottled water, use the bottle one time then, recycle it.

Be well hydrated, and be well!