reusable water bottle lying in colorful grass

How Long Should You Keep a Reusable Water Bottle?

Water bottles are no longer just for hikers and gym enthusiasts. They’re also a must for everyone who cares about the planet. 

No matter which group you fall in, if you’ve had a reusable bottle for a while now, you’re probably wondering whether it’s time to replace it. Let’s answer this question and learn more about maintaining your bottle in tip-top shape.

How Long Should You Keep a Reusable Water Bottle?

If you’re using a stainless steel or a glass bottle, changing it every 2–3 years is a good idea. But if you’ve been using a plastic one for a year, it’s time to replace it or, even better, get one of the other two options. 

Reusable bottles from stainless steel or glass are more durable, and they don’t gather as much bacteria over time. Plus, they’re way more sustainable. Glass bottles are a bit heavy to carry around all day, so I always vote in favor of stainless steel. 

What Impacts Water Bottle Life

The material from which the bottle is made matters most. Although glass bottles are usually sturdy, the risk of breaking them after an accidental drop is way higher than with the other types. 

In contrast, plastic and stainless steel bottles are harder to break. But plastic bottles have a few more disadvantages. For instance, they’re bad for the environment and retain a lot of bacteria over time.

Whether you clean and keep your water bottle in good condition is the other big factor that impacts its life and your safety. You can learn more about that below.

How Long Do Plastic Water Bottles Last?

Plastic water bottles can last up to a year. But why do they last so little? 

Most plastic bottles contain BPA. That’s a chemical with no smell or taste, and you might have already ingested it, if that plastic bottle you use is too old, or if it’s been exposed to higher temperatures. 

So, why should you worry about that? Studies suggest a link between BPA consumption and increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. To avoid it, experts suggest using BPA-free bottles. Frankly, switching to a different type of water bottle is a small price to pay for your health.

Are Reusable Plastic Water Bottles Safe?

Some reusable plastic water bottles are perfectly safe. It all depends on the type of plastic they’re made of, so you should check your bottle to find out. Here’s a short guide:

  • PET plastics — It’s safe for reuse, but you should always keep it at room temperature. Heat can release chemicals into your water, which can pose a health hazard.
  • HDPE plastics — That’s the best plastic option as it has a low risk of contaminating your water. Still, you should clean it regularly. 
  • Type 7 plastics — It’s not a good option as experts associate it with a high risk of BPA ingestion (check the previous section to learn more).

But the bigger issue with reusable plastic bottles is bacterial growth. That will happen quicker if you don’t wash your bottle often, and it will only get worse with continuous use.

How Long Can You Use a BPA-Free Bottle?

You can use a BPA-free bottle for as long as a regular plastic bottle — about a year

And if you thought that BPA-free is better, you were wrong. One study on BPA-free products showed that such products still release significant amounts of similar chemicals. In short, they pose similar health hazards for humans, so you should avoid them. 

While BPA-free bottles might be cheaper than stainless steel ones, isn’t it worth spending a few extra bucks to ensure fewer chemicals enter your body?

woman with a backpack holding a reusable water bottle

How Often Should You Wash Your Water Bottle?

Ideally, you should wash and clean your water bottle every day. I know, I don’t do it either. The next best thing would be once every couple of days, or as often as you remember and manage to find the time. 

Did you know that 2.2 billion people don’t have access to safe water for drinking? That’s one statistic you wouldn’t want to join. And it’s one more reason to take care of your water bottle.

To wash your bottle, use water and soap. Scrub thoroughly and use a bottle brush if you have one. After that, let your bottle air dry to ensure all bacteria are wiped out effectively.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Water Bottle

You can clean a stainless steel water bottle in the same way you do other bottles. Here are the few most popular methods:

  • Hot Water & Soap — Probably the easiest solution that would do the job. 
  • Baking Soda & Lemon Juice — Fill your bottle with a mix of warm water, baking soda, and a few drops of lemon juice. Let that sit for at least 10 minutes and rinse it out. If you want to go the extra mile, use the bottle brush.
  • Cleaning Tablets — Great option if you’re forgetful. Buy them and put them somewhere you’ll see them often. That way, you’re more likely to clean your water bottle regularly. 
  • UV Light — If you have a UV-C light at home, you can use that to disinfect your water bottle.

So, which method should you use? Pick the one that’s easiest to remember and implement into your eco-friendly daily habits.

How Do You Know When to Buy a New Water Bottle?

If your stainless steel water bottle smells metallic, that’s among the first signs that you should replace it. Bacteria can build up in your bottle and cause corrosion, which in turn can create this metallic taste.

And even if your bottle doesn’t smell weird, there are other ways to tell that it’s time for a new one. For starters, you should check your bottle for signs of wear and tear. Examine the lid. Is there any dirt or residue you can’t clean no matter what? If yes, it’s time to say goodbye to your favorite bottle. That’s just the cycle of consumerism. No product is designed to last a lifetime.

What to Do With Old Reusable Water Bottles

Some plastic water bottles might be recyclable, but most won’t be. And you can’t recycle a stainless steel bottle. So, what can you do?

Well, if you can’t recycle reusable water bottles, you can repurpose them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use it to water your plants or refill your pet’s bowl.
  • Carry nuts or other dry foods in it.
  • Make a beautiful vase out of it.
  • Turn it into a piggy bank.

The limit is your imagination! Personally, I use them to store spices for cooking. There are never enough containers for those. 

Final Thoughts

Reusable water bottles don’t last forever, no matter the material they’re made from. You should change your plastic water bottle every year, and if you have a stainless steel bottle, you should change it every 2–3 years. 

You can do your best to prolong the life of your bottle by keeping it away from hot temperatures and cleaning it regularly. And if you have to buy a new bottle, always try to repurpose the old one.

FAQ

How long do Nalgene bottles last?

Nalgene bottles are incredibly durable and can last a long time, but you should replace them after about a year. They’re still made of plastic, which can expose you to harmful chemicals. Research shows that even BPA-free bottles aren’t safe after continuous use.

Can you reuse water bottles?

Yes, you can reuse water bottles as long as you keep them in good condition. Experts advise cleaning your bottles with soap and warm water every day or at least once every few days.

How many times can you reuse a plastic water bottle?

Avoid reusing a plastic water bottle if it wasn’t meant to be reused. If you bought a bottle of water, it’s better to drink the liquid and recycle the bottle. But if you have a reusable water bottle, you can continue using it for up to a year, provided that you clean it regularly.

How long should you keep a reusable water bottle?

You should keep a plastic reusable water bottle for up to a year. If you have a stainless steel water bottle, you can keep it for around 2–3 years. In any case, you should clean the bottle at least every few days to protect yourself against bacteria build-up.

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