Reusing plastic water bottles helps the environment and saves money but can present a health hazard if the bottles harbor bacteria or the plastics begin to break down. Many people enjoy drinking chilled water from a bottle for its convenience, but it is important to know how to safely reuse water bottles.
1. Purchase a water bottle intended for reuse, rather than simply use an empty water bottle intended for single use. Think of stainless steel bottles, though pricey at first, as an investment. Stainless steel water bottles can be safely reused indefinitely when cared for properly. Other options include bottles made of dense plastic with wide lids that can be cleaned efficiently. Look at sporting good stores and online at Isabella Catalog.
2. In a pinch, reuse a single-use container once or twice, but never long-term. Some researchers, including a graduate student at the University of Idaho who did a study on the topic, found that with repeated use, toxic chemicals can leach from thin plastic bottles into their contents.
3. Wash your water bottle with soap and hot water, scrubbing thoroughly to remove any bacteria, once daily. Ideally, allow it to dry before refilling. Most bacteria cannot live on a clean, dry surface.
4. Wash hands thoroughly before filling your water bottle or touching the lid or spout.
5. Store filled water bottles in the refrigerator whenever possible to slow or eliminate bacteria growth.
6. Once a week, sanitize the water bottle by rinsing with 1 tsp. bleach in 4 cups of water. Rinse again with plain water and dry to safely reuse the water bottle.
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