How to Get the Smell Out of Bottles

I am a huge fan of drinking water from reusable bottles. Why pay for something that is free and create more waste? It just doesn’t make sense. The only problem that I had was, I could never keep a reusable water bottle such as a Nalgene or CamelBak clean.  Overtime, especially if I put anything besides water in them, they began to smell awful and make drinking out of them next to impossible. I used to just get new ones because soap, water and dishwasher wasn’t cutting it. I used to think that it was just me, but soon realized it is a problem for a lot of people. I have gathered 10 different methods to clean the smell out of bottles and some great tools for cleaning. I hope this solves this problem for you too! Let’s reduce waste together!

How to Get the Smell Out of Bottles

  1. Before trying any of these methods, first try using hot soapy water.  Using the classic method- Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
  2. Hot water and baking soda (1/4 c baking soda and 1 c. water) Shake it vigorously for a minute. Let it sit overnight. Shake for one more minute in the morning and follow with a soap and water rinse.
  3. Fill with 1 cup of hot vinegar that has been warmed in the microwave. The temperature will speed up the cleaning process. Shake it vigorously for a minute. Let it sit overnight. Shake for one more minute in the morning and follow with a soap and water rinse.
  4. You can use crushed ice, kosher salt and a lemon wedge. The acidity, salt and ice turns into a great scrub for the inside of the bottle and helps to make it taste fresh and clean.
  5. A new method I have heard about is Polident Denture Cleaner. Drop in the tablet, add water, let it sit for an hour or so and rinse it until you can’t smell the minty smell.
  6. Crumple up news paper inside the water bottle (assuming its a widemouth), put the lid on overnight. The newspaper should soak up the aroma.
  7. Add Real Vanilla Extract to the bottle, (see post on how to make your own vanilla here) enough to roll around and coat the inside  and let it sit overnight. The vanilla alcohol content will clean and if you are using this on a thermos, will make your first cup of cocoa taste yummy.
  8. The one of the best things that I have tried, is storing containers without the lids on. For some reason, after washing and drying them, if I put the lid on, the next time I drink out of that bottle I can still taste what was in there before. Leaving the lids off in the cupboard helps a ton!
  9. This tip is great for cleaning out a smelly water bottle while on a backpacking trip or while camping. You can use gravel! The abrasiveness of the pebbles and the fine dirt can scrub away the film along the inside of the water bottle that is starting to smell. Then once it is all clean, you can fill it with fresh filtered water. (I use this filter while camping.)
  10. Lastly if the bottle can take some heat, BOIL it. Works like a dream.  Most water bottles will say if they can hold hot liquid or not.

Tools To Clean Reusable Water Bottles

I love the shape of this brush. It gets in all the corners easily. This one is great for really narrow mouth bottles. This one is a must for any of the really cute tumblers or bottles with a straw like the CamelBak. Have you had success with cleaning stinky water bottles in another way? What has worked for you? We love the feedback!

6 thoughts on “How to Get the Smell Out of Bottles”

  1. I swear by the denture cleaner method – so sparking, no odor. They make non-minty flavor, so you don’t have to rinse forever. I usually fill my sink with water and bottles, add 5 or 6 tablets, and let soak for about an hour. Rinse, refill, and good to go.

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