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De-Stinking Water Bottles

Q. Gear Guy, How do I prevent the nasty odor and taste that I get when I store my Nalgene bottle with the lid closed?
— Dirty Bottle Daniel, Huntington, W. Va.

A. A stinky, sour water bottle is no fun. I’ve had that problem myself. There are a couple of things you can try. First, soak the bottle in warm, soapy water. If it’s particularly nasty, add some lemon juice or a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the water. Let the bottle soak overnight, then run it through the dishwasher (on the top rack only). Dry the bottle upside down with the top open. If all that doesn’t work, it’s time for drastic action. Nalgene’s Web site suggests this: Take a charcoal briquette, roll it up inside a piece of newspaper and shove it inside the bottle, then screw on the cap. Leave it in there for a few days. Finish by washing the bottle in the dishwasher or by hand in warm soapy water.

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10 Comments on De-Stinking Water Bottles

  1. I’ve washed them in bleach water I’ve also put baking soda in them

  2. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer // December 20, 2019 at 9:58 am // Reply

    Bleach kills bacteria and mold/mildew and eliminates all odors. Only put water in your water bottle, as anything with sugar will cultivate mold.

  3. Has anyone tried grapeseed extract?

  4. ASM Delorge // June 27, 2016 at 8:14 pm // Reply

    Will just any charcoal briquette work? I can’t imagine that it is safe to use one that is pre-treated with lighter fluid.

  5. Happy camper in Australia! // June 26, 2016 at 6:40 pm // Reply

    Denture tablets are the go! Hot water, a denture tablet, leave to soak, wash and dry, and you’re good to go!

  6. Um…is there something wrong with leaving the top open?

  7. Skip all these steps and scrub the inside of the bottle with toothpaste.

  8. Mr BottleHead // August 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm // Reply

    You can put a couple drops of vanilla on a paper towel and put it into your water bottle for storage. When you are ready to use your water bottle, pull the paper towel out and it will smell and taste great.

  9. Once you get it deodorized, you can prevent future odors by putting a paper towel inside before you put it away. We also store ours without the lid screwed on.

  10. I picked up a tip from a fellow Back packer that used Denture clean tablets that also work in the water bags. It also leaves a minty taste but gets rid of the odors. Cost is around $1.00 if you get them from the Dollor General.

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