According to new research, drinking from plastic refillable water bottle can be “many times worse than licking your dog’s toy” in terms of the amount of bacteria it will bring you into contact with.
The website Treadmill Reviews commissioned EmLab P&K to test 12 water bottles of four different types – screw-top, slide-top, squeeze-top, and straw-top. Each water bottle had been used by an athlete for a week without being washed.
“Based on the 12 water bottles we tested, we found that reusable drinking containers may be crawling with an alarming number of viable bacteria cells: more than 300,000 colony-forming units per square centimeter (CFU/sq cm),” TreadmillReviews.net said.
Slide-top were found to have the highest germ content, with more than 900,000 colony-forming units per square centimeter (CFU/sq) cm on average. The bottles harbored gram-positive cocci, which can lead to skin infections, pneumonia, or blood poisoning.
Squeeze-top bottles were next-worse with 162,000 CFU/sq cm, and screw-top containers hosted just under 160,000 CFU/sq cm.
“Drinking from these bottles can still be worse than eating a meal from your pet’s dish,” the site added.
A far better picture emerged from tests on straw-top bottles, which were found to contain a fraction of the bacteria of other bottles – just 25 CFU/sq cm. “This may be because water drips to the bottom of the straw rather than sticking around to attract moisture-loving germs.”
The germs that were present in the straw-top bottles were described as “mostly harmless.”
“Based on our test results, we suggest opting for a straw-top bottle, both for the low prevalence of bacteria and the lack of harmful germs,” the site said.
“We also know that when it comes to water bottles and bacteria, stainless steel is a better choice than plastic. Additionally, water bottles without crevices and tough-to-clean spots are less likely to host germs.”
The site advises readers to wash water bottles after each use, ideally with a weak bleach solution.