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Which Is Dirtier: Your Reusable Water Bottle or a Toilet Seat?

by
author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
Which Is Dirtier: Your Reusable Water Bottle or a Toilet Seat?
Is your reusable bottle teeming with bacteria? Photo Credit Miller Studio/Adobe Stock

Your trusty, BPA-free water bottle is great for the environment, but, according to new data, reusable bottles can come with a nasty side of bacteria.

The “study” is from TreadmillReviews.net, which claims that it used an independent lab to test 12 athletes’ water bottles post-workout and found that reusable water bottles are host to an alarming number of viable bacterial cells — more than the average toilet seat! They also found that 60 percent of those cells belonged to the type of bacteria that can make you sick.

Even worse? The average reusable bottle was host to more than 313,499 colony-forming units per square centimeter (CFU/sq. cm). They also found that certain containers are more likely to hold bacteria because of their shape.

The worst offender is supposedly the slide-top container, which had more than 900,000 CFU/sq. cm, presumably because the lids are harder to clean. The best were the screw-top, at 160,000 CFU/sq. cm, and then straw-top bottle at a mere 25 CFU/sq. cm.

According to the treadmill review site, the average home toilet seat has 27 CFU/sq cm. Meanwhile, the average chewed-up dog toy has about 2,937 CFU/sq. cm.

Canada’s Globe News asked a microbiologist to weigh in on the data. He scoffed at the fear that this kind of news could cause, but he also legitimized the findings because he’s not surprised that toilet seats, which are not in contact with mouths (we hope) have less bacteria. According to The New York Times, “Realistically, toilet seats are relatively low risk compared to many other surfaces.”

How to Keep Your Bottle Cleaner Than a Dog Toy

Ready to throw out your reusable bottle in disgust? Don’t. Your bottle is salvageable with a few simple actions:

1. Never let your bottle sit around in your gym bag where room-temperature moisture and can make for the ideal bacteria breeding grounds.

2. Be sure to clean any crevices or ridges where bacteria like to hide out, either by hand or by throwing it in the dishwasher as often as possible. We’d suggest getting into the habit of doing it every day.

Something to keep in mind is that this test only looked at bottles that were washed once per week, so if you’re storing your bottle correctly and washing it properly and regularly, you should be fine.

Plus, you’re never going to get rid of all the bacteria, and some is actually good for you. So keep calm and sip on.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you use a reusable water bottle? Do you clean your it bottle every day? Do you clean it by hand or by the dishwasher? How do you stay hydrated throughout the day? What type of reusable water bottle do you like most?

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