I have a water bottle that I use pretty much every day. Admittedly I don't wash it all that often just purely because I don't feel like it / forget when I am home and just want to relax.

I have noticed that after a while the edges of the bottle begin to smell a little funky, probably a mix of saliva and water drying and becoming smelly. I was wondering if anyone has come up with an easy way to stop this apart from the obvious "Wash it.".

I know that washing it will fix the problem and I will likely do this but I was interested in any other solutions to get rid of the smell or even prolong the time before it starts to smell!

  • I use milk bottles, because it's easy to wash them up. Obviously no good if you need to put it in a bag...
    – P i
    Jan 27, 2015 at 10:46
  • 4
    Smelliness indicates the presence of thriving and multiplying bacteria and fungal organisms, and could be a serious health hazard. Pretty sure you wouldn't eat direct out of your kitchen bin, so why drink from a bacteria ridden bottle that you aren't prepared to clean daily? Takes 2 minutes under a running tap with a brush, turn upside down to dry thoroughly every evening.
    – Bamboo
    Jan 27, 2015 at 11:42

11 Answers 11

  1. Don't let it touch your mouth while drinking.
  2. Wash it with vinegar to help further remove the smell from bacteria. This will also, to an extent, help prevent bacteria from building up again as quickly.
  3. Don't leave it somewhere warm, such as near a furnace vent. Bacteria grow best in warm, dark, and damp places, which also leads me to...
  4. If you don't wash it at night, open it to allow it to dry as well as possible. Dryer equals less bacteria growth.
  • Would bleach also work instead of vinegar? May 10, 2018 at 16:10
  • 1
    @TrajanEspelien I know of people who have used bleach, but seeing as bleach would kill you to drink even a little of it and vinegar would not, I would recommend sticking to the latter.
    – Mooseman
    May 17, 2018 at 12:09
  • @TrajanEspelien Since bleach is nontoxic in small doses (used in pools, municipal water, no-rinse sanitizer), it would be excellent for this. But it leaves a strong smell, so use it diluted, then rinse.
    – piojo
    Sep 11, 2019 at 7:32

The problem isn't the bottle or the lid in general. It is the gasket inside the lid. The gasket is an o-ring seal that keeps the bottle air tight.

The gasket is the most neglected part in terms of cleaning. If you pull it out, you'll see how dirty it is. Here is what mine looked like when I had this smell that I couldn't get rid of. Once I changed the gasket, my water finally tastes normal again. That mildew or mold buildup sets directly onto the metal lip of the bottle which is the part you taste and smell.

See the pictures of my moldy gasket! enter image description here

If you need help with pulling the gasket out, cleaning it, or replacing it completely, watch this video.


  • Is there any way to clean the gasket (and cap)? I have tried soaking/washing with vinegar as well as dishwashing liquid. It did not help.
    – Kvothe
    Dec 3, 2022 at 18:14

The smell may appear as a result of bacteria living in your mouth and if you don't wash the bottle bacteria breed on the bottle.

  • If this is a normal bottle do not drink directly from it, pour the water in a glass.

  • You can try not to touch it with your mouth while drinking.

  • Or you can change your normal bottle with sport bottle and you can sprinkle water in your mouth without touching it with your lips.

You can find sport bottles in any sport shop

sport bottle


You can get several days with no stink if (after you wash it and start with a neutral smell) you take the cap off as often and for as long as possible between drinking, such as overnight and whenever the bottle will not be used. By all means, keep the cap on when traveling and exercising. But, if it's just sitting around, take the cap off to allow air flow.


Get a stainless steel bottle. 18-8 is the best for preventing microbes from growing. The other is to soak bottles in water/baking soda.

  • 2
    Could you explain why the material makes a difference?
    – Chenmunka
    Sep 5, 2017 at 8:02
  • @Chenmunka well, I don't know the specifics as to why but it's used in the medical industry because of its anti microbial properties.
    – user22038
    Sep 5, 2017 at 9:57
  • as long as there will be any gaskets, I think the antimicrobial part will vanish.. Unless I'm mistaken. Also: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7372344 "SS lacks desired biofunctionality, which makes it prone to bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation.". 18-8 steel means food grade, doesn't mean you don't have to wash it.
    – Raf
    Apr 30 at 8:48

Learn how to drink from your bottle without touching it withyour lips.
This is inexpensive and you will learn a new and fun skill and learn how to deal with people looking funny at you.
This is a custom in India and Bangladesh, here is a blogpost that tried to find out why they do this. it is intersting to see the cultural differences between how water is perceived:

He also explained that since the water is community that people won’t touch their lips to the cups to avoid germs.

Two other links with explanations:
Yahoo answers

Different drinking techniques


I tried poking a hole through a plastic bottles lid and then putting a straw through to stop my mouth touching the rim and it worked very well.


Even if using a straw to drink from a water bottle, there is the risk of having back-wash from your straw (and, potentially from your mouth) go back down into the water bottle and begin the growth of smelly bacteria.

The next-best option is to pour the water into another glass for drinking, or to pour the water directly into your mouth -- without letting it touch any parts of your mouth; as was suggested earlier by another responder here.

  • That answer has already been given.
    – Chenmunka
    Sep 1, 2017 at 7:19

To clean your bottle cap and rim take a small and wet piece of cotton and with help of a fork or backside of a spoon brush the cotton against the rim or the cap where dirt is accumulated.

Repeat this with fresh cotton to completely remove dirt and wash it with cleaning solution and make sure it is dried up completely dried up either in direct sun or with a help of a dryer.

And before re-use make sure to wash it with hot water to remove odour completely.Hope this helps!


Simply and standard solution for me is wash your bottle with hot water and salt. Just add the salt in hot water and wash it and its done.

Advice: Keep washing your bottle every week.


The object is to make it so mold will not grow it the bottle. Before storing the water bottle,completely drain it. Then store it with the cap off. Also,don't drink out of the bottle with any food or food taste in your mouth.

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