Reusable water bottles are crawling with infectious bacteria like ‘barnacles on a boat’ and must be clean once a week

A BOFFIN has warned that reusable water bottles can attract germs like “barnacles on a boat” if not washed properly.

Microbiologist Dr Philip Tierno issued the stark advice and compared the bottles to a portable Petri dish if not looked after.

People have been warned they must regularly clean the water bottles
Getty – Contributor
Dr Philip Tierno is a well respected microbiologist in New York

The most dangerous ones come from the outside world, which can cause strep and staph infections.

Dr Tierno suggests scrubbing every inch with hot soapy water and a bottle brush at least once a week.

The clinical professor of pathology and microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Mashable that “it’s imperative to scrub the inside of the bottle, too. Merely rinsing is not going to do the trick.”

Bacteria usually form a thin biofilm on the inside of the reusable container over time.

He went on: “So you need mechanical action to get rid of that biofilm that coats the inside of the bottle.”

Dr Tierno said the bacteria accumulation is similar to on a boat, or the soap grime that builds up on a bathtub.

Data has shown that humans buy a million plastic bottles around the world ever minute and 91 percent of them are not recycled.

It’s imperative to scrub the inside of the bottle, too. Merely rinsing is not going to do the trick.

Dr Philip Tierno

The shift from the twist top bottle to a reusable one could help reduce waste but if you are not cleaning it properly, it may increase your risk of infection.

Most people worry about keeping the inside of their bottles clean – but many do not think about what is lurking on the outside.

Dr Tierno added: “Some people may [for example] carry strains of staph that other people don’t have.

“They may pick those up shaking hands with somebody, touching things like countertops, doorknobs, elevator buttons, telephones, computer keyboards.

“You’re constantly exchanging flora on your hands, and then you’re touching your water bottle.’

“You’re unscrewing it, capping it, scraping lipstick from the mouthpiece — basically, you’re ensuring that whatever was on your hands is getting into that water.”

A recent study looked at just how much bacteria was actually lingering in and around our water bottles.

The team swabbed 12 different bottles and found there were more than 300,000 colony-forming units (CFU) per square cm.

The lab looked at the four most popular bottles and found that the one with a slide-top hosted over 900,000 CFU where your lips touch.

Experts have also suggested running it through the dishwasher after every couple of uses and replacing it often or soaking it in a large bowl of hot water with soapy and vinegar.

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