Wash those bottles!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

We offer a heads-up to all you water bottle zealots out there: Once they're opened, water bottles become contaminated very quickly.

Almost all commercial water bottles are made with plastic designed for one-time use. They're flimsy and made for recycling and not re-using.

The water bottles sold in sporting goods stores and departments are made from a much more durable plastic. They're a better alternative and are designed to be used over and over. Such bottles are wider with wider necks, making it easier to clean.

For those insisting on re-using a "one-time" water bottle, it needs a good daily washing, according to university Extension Service educators. If you refill a commercial water bottle, or any container for that matter, wash it every day to prevent bacteria from contaminating a healthy beverage.

Wash the bottle with hot, soapy water and rinse well. Use a bottle brush to clean in and around the neck of the bottle. Scrub the lids with a brush. Allow the water bottle and cap to air dry completely between uses.

Because of the narrow neck of most commercial water bottles, sanitizing your water bottle in the dishwasher isn't the best option because water can't get up into the bottle for a thorough cleaning.

Most people use their hands to open the caps of the water battle. Another basic but vital part of keeping your water bottle germ free is washing your hands well before opening the bottle. The water bottles can be re-used safely if you wash your hands and the bottle and cap well and often.

University researchers recently collected 75 water bottles from elementary students. Coliform bacteria typically from fecal material were found in 9 percent of the bottles tested. Various hetrotrophic bacteria often present in the mouth were found in 13 percent.

Saliva and food particles can get into the water bottle and around the neck and, if left sitting at room temperature for several hours, harmful levels of bacteria will grow that can sicken and endanger those drinking from that bottle.

Also, family members, friends, athletes, etc. sharing the same bottles that are not sufficiently cleaned before and after EACH use, can spread harmful, perpetual bacteria from person to person.

Of course researchers maintain that we all should drink as much water as we can daily for its many healthful benefits.

But just make sure the container is not going to make you, a loved one, or a teammate sick.