Over the past few years, stainless steel water bottles have become a must-have for travelers. They are sturdy, they help the environment, they save you money, and we’ve come a long way from the type of bottles that leave a metallic taste in your mouth whenever you take a drink!
There is, however, a risk to drinking from metal water bottles, and it comes in the form of mold.
A Better Bottle, but Not Flawless
Have you ever gone to take a sip from your water bottle after a day or so and noticed that it smelled a bit… funky? That smell is the smell of mold and mildew growing inside, and it can be harmful to your health if you ingest it on a regular basis.
Stainless steel water bottles are leaps and bounds ahead of reusable plastic bottles when it comes to being mold- and mildew-resistant. However, that doesn’t mean that you never have to wash the bottle. The higher-quality stainless steel bottles are designed to prevent rusting and to make it hard for bacteria to grow inside, but you still have to help them along by washing and thoroughly drying the bottle after each use.
How Do I Know if My Bottle is Moldy?
As we mentioned before, a sniff test can be a good way to test if your bottle has started growing mold. An earthy, musty, or otherwise unpleasant smell can be an indicator of mold, as can seeing black, white, or green spots on or inside the bottle. These are most often found around the rim of the bottle where it meets the cap, or on the cap itself. Sometimes, in more extreme cases, you can even see mold particles floating on the surface of the water inside.
What Health Problems Can a Moldy Water Bottle Cause?
Despite what the fear-mongering articles on the internet might say, ingesting a small amount of mold from time to time will most likely not do much damage (some people eat moldy cheese for fun, after all). However, frequent or excessive mold ingestion, especially if that mold is of the type classified as “black mold,” can cause breathing problems as well as coughing, sneezing, itchy and/or watery eyes, and other allergy-esque reactions even in people who don’t otherwise suffer from allergies. It can also potentially cause skin rashes or hives, or upset stomach. Long-term, frequent exposure to mold can also cause headaches and fatigue you just can’t shake.
How To Prevent Mold in Water Bottles
The good news is that as bad as moldy water bottles may sound; they are an easy problem to fix. All it takes is some dish soap and hot water to clean up the mold and keep it from coming back. The most important part of this cleaning process, though, is to let the bottle dry completely before putting the top on it to store it. In fact, it could even be better to store it with the cap off so that no moisture gets trapped inside when you’re not using it and no harmful substances have a chance to grow. It is also a good idea to empty the leftover water out of the bottle when you’re finished with it for the day and to give it a good rinse before filling it up each time.