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Go ahead and take a look around your kitchen—you have at least a few plastic water bottles, right?

And anyone who owns plastic water bottles is all too familiar with the fact that if you don’t store them properly, they can start to get a little…funky. Mildew and grossness are common on plastic water bottles even if you wash them frequently thanks to how moisture can build up easily on the plastic used to make these bottles.

However, you might be relieved (and a little surprised) to learn that a lot of these mildew and grime problems can be prevented with a little careful storage! Try these tips out the next time you need to rinse out and stash your favorite Nalgene or Contigo bottle and you might just find them easier to use next time:

 

Wash out with vinegar, not soap

A lot of people reach right for the dish soap when they want to wash out their favorite water bottle—and why wouldn’t they? Soap is good for cleaning, right?

While soap is never really a bad thing, with many plastic water bottles it can tend to leave behind a bad taste, or worse trap moisture in the bottle to promote the growth of mold and mildew. Instead, the next time you have a water bottle to clean out, spray it down with a spray bottle full of straight white vinegar, let it sit for five minutes, and then give it a big rinse. This will help promote cleanliness and keep your water bottles fresher for longer than normal!

 

Let air flow through

In both storage and drying after a wash, air flow is crucial in promoting proper drying and preventing the buildup of mildew. Separate the bottles from their lids and dry everything facing downwards so excess water can drain out towards the bottom of your drying rack.

 

Use open shelves

Similarly, air flow is going to help prevent them from getting gross while they’re in storage, so leaving your water bottles on something that will help encourage airflow will go a long way towards keeping them clean. Instead of keeping them locked inside a storage cabinet, try to find something like wire shelves or wall shelves to keep the air flowing and stop them from building up any dust or moisture like they would behind closed doors.

 

Keep them at hand

Of course, if you have a water bottle, it’s probably because you need to drink out of it, right? For athletes, gym nuts, singers, or anyone else that reaches for their water bottle more often than not, you might need to get a little creative with where you keep it. A few good ideas we’ve seen are:

 

  • Wine racks: Many kitchen wine racks are the right size to hold water bottles, with the added bonus of keeping them right in sight and close at hand. Take a wine rack you aren’t using anymore and fill it with your family’s favorite water bottles.
  • Shoe racks: Similarly, a lot of shoe racks are the right size and spacing to hold water bottles safely and keep them dry and mildew-free. Hang one up on the inside of the pantry door and you’ll never scramble to find them again!
  • DIY drawer dividers: If you don’t have the space or access for these other ideas, try laying down some thin wooden drawer dividers (or cardboard if you’re careful about them not getting wet) and you can make easy, neat rows of water bottles inside your deeper kitchen drawers. This way everyone in the house knows right where theirs is!

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