Refilling Your Water Bottle Turns It Into A Bottle of Bacteria

Published: May. 20, 2003 at 2:37 AM CDT|Updated: May. 21, 2003 at 2:35 PM CDT
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You've probably done it.

"Refill it all the time."

Or know someone who has.


"Weeks, I don't think I have ever gone over a month."

Refilling your water bottle.

"I say I get a new bottle every week."

It's pretty common, especially when you're trying to get your eight glasses of water a day. But could refilling your bottles be making you sick? I asked a dozen people at Woodcreek Athletic Club to use a water bottle for a whole week and then give it to me for testing. None of them washed their bottles out. They just filled them up and drank. Then I took the bottles to UT Health Center for analysis.

"We actually cultured around the neck and just on the inside, the part that would go in your mouth," said Dr. Richard Wallace. "All of those grew lots and lots of bacteria that could make you very sick almost like having food poisoning. That can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Basically the worst vomiting you have ever had in your life."

Some tests even showed the water was undrinkable.

"You've got to remember that bottles like this are not sterile and the water in them is not sterile. As soon as you drink out of them they are contaminated bottles," Dr. Wallace explains.

And beware, Dr. Wallace says the pop top water bottles pose an even bigger health danger.

"For the bottles that don't have the nice screw on caps, you can constantly touch the top that goes in your mouth. Whatever is on your hands goes on top. Then anything like stool if you didn't wash your hands after using the bathroom, can be passed. That can cause things like Hepatitis A and all types of viruses," he says.

So what do our brave volunteer as think about this.

"I think that is disgusting."

"I'm grossed out."

They all said from now on they'll think twice before they fill 'er up.

And if you thought you were safe by washing your bottle, think again. The International Water Bottle Association says the bottles are not made to be reused and can not be washed in a dishwasher because the neck is so small, soap and water can not thoroughly clean it. 

 Michelle Mortensen, reporting.