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What Happens If You Drink Moldy Water? + Tips to Avoid Harm

Whether you’ve kept a water bottle for a while or you’ve just discovered the fungus in your pipes, you should know what happens if you drink moldy water. While it’s usually not a huge health hazard, taking precautions against ingesting the mold is a good idea.

Let’s find out if drinking water with mold can make you sick, what are the side effects, and how you can clean your bottle to avoid dealing with mold again.

Can Mold in a Water Bottle Make You Sick?

Yes, drinking from a moldy bottle can make you sick, but it’s rare. It all depends on the type of mold you ingest and your immune system. For instance, if you’re more sensitive and prone to allergies, you should do your best to avoid drinking moldy water. 

Reusable water bottles are among the most common places where mold grows. Their dark and enclosed environment, coupled with moisture, provides the perfect conditions for a moldy party.

If you have a reusable water bottle and haven’t cleaned it in a while, you should check it thoroughly for signs of mold that might harm your health. 

Let’s learn more about the signs you should look for and the different types of mold.

Is Black Mold in a Water Bottle Dangerous?

Black mold is no more dangerous than any other mold. That said, the type Stachybotrys chartarum can be harmful to the human body and can be found in water bottles. But don’t raise the alarm just yet.

Although Stachybotrys chartarum is known as “toxic mold”, exposure to it won’t cause problems for most people. However, people with allergies or those that have ingested mold over prolonged periods have reasons to worry. Black mold can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. You can check the side effects in more detail below.

Overall, black mold is unlikely to harm your body significantly, but it’s still a good idea to avoid it by cleaning your water bottle or any other objects that may allow it to spread. 

Causes of Water Mold

The right conditions will always produce mold. They include:

  • 70% or more moisture
  • Food particles
  • Temperature between 40 and 100 F
  • Oxygen

Your water bottle provides the perfect environment for mold to grow. But you can also find mold in damp places, pipes with leaks, and high-humidity areas. And since leaks cause 900 billion gallons of water waste annually, I’m inclined to think that most of us have drunk moldy water at some point. 

But what are the symptoms of drinking moldy water you should watch out for? 

Side Effects of Drinking Moldy Water

If you have an allergy to mold or if you’ve been drinking it for a long time, you might experience some of the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose, throat, or eyes
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion

Usually, taking a few sips of water with mold shouldn’t be a problem since your stomach acid should be strong enough to protect you from harm.

That said, if you have asthma, ingesting mold can trigger an asthma attack. You might experience wheezing and shortness of breath.

You might not get any side effects from black mold, but drinking it can cause problems over time. You might notice the symptoms as early as 1–2 days after ingesting the mold.

What to Do if You Drink Mold

If you drank mold and aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms above, you shouldn’t worry about it. Still, you should get rid of the mold to avoid health problems in the future. 

If you suspect that your water bottle is home to mold, clean it thoroughly. And if you’re using a cheap plastic water bottle, it’s best to throw it away since plastic water bottles cause other health issues.

Finally, if you experience more severe symptoms like those above, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.

woman carrying water bottle

How to Tell if Your Water Bottle Is Moldy

Give your water bottle a good sniff. Any musty, earthy, or metallic smell might be the first sign of a moldy water bottle. In that case, you should clean the bottle well using one of the methods described below.

Next, open the bottle and check the mouthpiece and the cap for any visible signs of black mold. While mold isn’t noticeable at first, the black pores tend to group and form a layer.

Another way to tell whether your water bottle contains mold is to compare the taste of the water. Pour tap water into the bottle and into a glass. Let it sit for a few hours and give each a taste. If the water in your bottle tastes weird, you might be dealing with mold or other bacteria. You should also double-check your findings with someone else in the household. 

Alternatively, you can buy a water test kit for mold, but I’d recommend trusting your senses before spending money. There are many proven ways to get rid of mold in your water bottle, so let’s get right to them.

How to Clean a Moldy Water Bottle

Water and soap might be no good if you’re dealing with black mold. We’ll look at a few more effective methods for destroying mold. 

But before we do, keep in mind that you should wash your water bottle thoroughly after all of them, and you should let it air dry. I’ve skipped this step in the past, and it’s crucial to eliminate the mold. Now, here are the best methods to get rid of the mold in your water bottle:

  • Add vinegar — Research shows that vinegar kills common molds, but it’s not effective against all types. Pour some into your water bottle and let it sit for a few hours.
  • Boil the bottle — If you have a sturdy metallic bottle, boil it for an hour. That should get rid of mold and bacteria.
  • Use a cotton swab — If the mold has gathered around the mouthpiece or the bottle cap, dip a cotton swab in alcohol and use it to clean those hard-to-reach places.
  • Put it in the dishwasher — Do this only if you’re removing mold from a water bottle that can handle the dishwasher.

Some suggest cleaning your water bottle with bleach, but I’d never do that myself. Bleach is a strong substance that may lead to poisoning if you ingest it. If you really want to try it, you better be sure that you’ve removed every last bit of bleach before you drink from your bottle again.

Final Thoughts

Reusable water bottles are great for the environment, but they can pose a threat to your health if you don’t clean them regularly. They’re the perfect environment for black mold. 

What happens if you drink mold? In most cases, nothing much. That said, you should be extra careful if you’re prone to allergies or if you’ve been drinking moldy water for a long period. Inspect your water bottle for signs of mold often, and don’t let that nasty fungus grow.


Can water get moldy?

Yes, water can easily get moldy in a closed space, like a reusable water bottle. Mold grows at the right temperature in places with lots of moisture that can provide nutrients. The most common places where water gets moldy include bottles and pipes.

Can mold grow in a plastic water bottle?

Yes, mold can easily grow in a plastic water bottle. It can happen within 1–2 days of getting the right conditions in terms of moisture level, nutrients, and temperature. Generally, plastic water bottles are the worst kind of reusable bottles you can choose. 

Is water mold harmful?

It can be. If you drink water with mold over a long period, you risk getting side effects and developing an allergy to mold. Typical symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion.

What happens if my kid drinks moldy water?

In most cases, nothing will happen to your kid if they drink moldy water. Still, if the kid is sensitive, they might experience allergy symptoms. In very rare cases, they might get an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Can mold make you sick immediately?

Mold in drinks can make you sick, but developing symptoms usually takes a few hours at least. It all depends on how much you ingested, your body’s immunity, and how often you’re exposed to the mold. 

What are the signs of mold poisoning?

Ingesting mold might lead to symptoms similar to an allergy, including a stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchiness. However, it can trigger an attack in people suffering from asthma. In rare cases, it can lead to an upset stomach or vomiting.

How long does mold poisoning last?

Symptoms after ingesting mold can disappear within a few days. But depending on your body, you might keep experiencing unpleasant side effects months after you’ve destroyed the source of mold. If you want to know what happens if you drink moldy water, scroll up to read the list of side effects above.

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