I like to reuse disposable water bottles as many times as I can so that they get many uses before having to be recycled.

Assuming you continue to properly wash the disposable water bottle, is it safe and feasible to continue using the same one? I've read that leaving them in the sun can cause the plastic to bleed chemicals into the water. But if the bottle is protected from the sun, are there other things that will cause it to deteriorate or bleed chemicals? What can be done to keep it functional?

  • I didn't know that the plastic seeped chemicals into the water... May 11, 2018 at 3:57
  • 2
    So long as you don't STORE water in the bottle for long periods (months), you should have no problem other than the cap not fitting or getting lost after a while. You're good to go. Thank you for reusing before discarding plastic containers. +1
    – Stan
    May 13, 2018 at 12:16
  • Depending where you live re-use may not be as beneficial as you think ... For example, in desert climes water is precious and landfill space is not. It depends how thoroughly you wash ... a quick rinse is an obvious environmental win.
    – jsf80238
    May 17, 2018 at 13:19

2 Answers 2


Plastic bottles have an expiration date - the plastic releases materials and chemicals, and after some time, even if saved well (as you try to do) - you'll need to recycle it.

You can look at a water bottle, and the expiration date on it is more or less the expiration of the plastic bottle.
(If I'll find a source - I'll update)

So, try to save it in a good condition - keep away from heat and sun. Also, of course it's suitable only for cold/room temperature liquids.

(If I'm not wrong, you can have it for around a year)


I applaud your desire to reduce waste, but…

It is important to not re-use particular recyclable bottles. (Somehow magically it is fine with the original product in it [or more so, anyway], but there is an issue with re-using it.) I believe(d) confidently that the pertinent number was 1 (and possibly 2); what I have just read mentions 7, so it might be both, or it might vary by country or something. [Edit: …Or maybe it is BPA and phthalates as separate issues.]

There is a health issue. I used to believe that there is no permanent effect, but what I have just read suggests otherwise. (With apologies) I shall leave you to do a search; start by searching for “health BPA”. The chemical in question is BPA; recyclable number 1 is PETE, and what I have just read talks about polycarbonate (number 7). The first two of those three might be different issues. (I am fairly sure that there is another chemical as well, that leaches — maybe phthalate(s). [Edit: PETE is Polyethylene Terephthalate.] )

The following is the most alarming article I just found; this is not an endorsement.

You can buy a drinking bottle that is BPA-free, or you can just go with glass or metal.

According to this article…
… the substitute BHPF appears to be harmful too.

Note that washing a bottle in hot water can make the problem worse.

For these reasons, the "hack" is that there is none.

  • 1
    This is a very good answer! Concluding that there is no hack is a welcome answer, especially in this case because your answer is well-researched and cites the sources. Thank you and welcome to Lifehacks!
    – Mooseman
    May 17, 2018 at 12:12
  • No. Plastics leaching into the water becomes an issue if you store one load of water in the bottle for a long time (i.e. months or years)- because the concentration of chemicals in the water slowly rises to possibly-harmful levels. It's not an issue if you refill the bottle each day.
    – Hobbes
    May 17, 2018 at 13:09
  • So......the answer is: keep plastic 1 gallon water bottles the cooler the better and wash with cool water and maybe soap between uses maybe indefinitely? There is more than just BPA leaching into the water, right? Has anyone studied just how many chemicals are leaching and at what rate? At different temperature levels and time periods. There has to be someone. The answer is: someone somewhere is testing plastic for it's chemical leaching qualities.
    – Pure
    Mar 18, 2022 at 11:37

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