Your Reusable Water Bottle Might Have More Germs Than a Toilet Seat

Every time you take a sip out of your reusable water bottle, you might as well be licking a toilet seat — if you don’t wash it regularly, that is.

A team of exercise experts at Treadmill Reviews took the time to analyze water bottles of different kinds and materials, hoping to find out which ones were most susceptible to harboring germs.

After a week without washing, the researchers found that the average athlete’s water bottle contained 313,499 colony-forming units (i.e., germs) per square centimeter of space. By comparison, a typical pet toy only has about 2,937 CFUs per square centimeter.

Of course, staying hydrated is important, especially while exercising — and reusable water bottles are much more environmentally-friendly than plastic ones. The researchers also compared four different common types of bottle tops: slide-top, squeeze-top, screw-top, and straw-top.

The slide-top type of water bottles was far-and-away the dirtiest, with a whopping 933,340 CFU. The squeeze-tops and screw-tops came out roughly even, with 161,971 CFU and 159,060 CFU, respectively.

The straw-tops won the contest by a landslide, with an average 25.4 CFU. Still, the authors caution, that’s only 2 CFU/sq cm less than the average toilet seat.

As it turns out, lots of items around us can be readily called “dirtier than a toilet seat”: the kitchen sink, a pet food bowl, a toothbrush holder. Even work desks can harbor more than 400 times more germs than the office toilet.

Still, that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to go drinking out of one. To minimize the ickiness of your water bottle, researchers recommend being sure to wash it thoroughly after every workout, either in the dishwasher or with hot water and soap.

The straw-top bottles likely contain fewer germs because water stays at the bottom of the straw, instead of accumulating on top where it can breed bacteria with the air. Steel bottles are also less likely to accommodate germ growth.

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