Introduction: 5 Ways to Clean a Funky Water Bottle

Picture of 5 Ways to Clean a Funky Water Bottle

Here are 5 effective ways to get funky smells and odors out of your Klean Kanteen, or any other water bottle for that matter.

Klean Kanteen has a website that covers these methods - some of the suggested tactics work better than others.  Check out the following methods and learn which ones work best.

Step 1: Take Me to Funky Town

Picture of Take Me to Funky Town

Funky water bottles can happen any time you put anything besides water into them.  The equation for the perfect funky water bottle storm is something like this (+/- a few variables):

juice and or coffee + hot car + time = FUNK 

In the image below we left this insulated Klean Kanteen in the car for a few days with tea in it.  When we opened it up there was mold everywhere growing on not only the tea bag, but the walls of the water bottle themselves.

Step 2: Wash With Bottle Brush

Picture of Wash With Bottle Brush

We're specifically not going to cover simply washing the bottle - I'm pretty sure that everyone can figure that one out without an Instructable. 

First up - wash the bottle using a bottle brush with hot water and soap.

The bottle brush physically removes the funk from the water bottle with scrubbing action.

Step 3: Wash in Dishwasher

Picture of Wash in Dishwasher

Stainless steel water bottles are dishwasher safe.  Put the water bottle into the dishwasher for a full "hot" cycle.  The high temps and strong(er) dishwasher detergent may result in success.

If you've still got funk, read on.

Step 4: Overnight Boiling Water Soak

Picture of Overnight Boiling Water Soak

If the dishwasher didn't work, or say you don't even have a dishwasher (like me), pour boiling water into the bottle and let it sit overnight.  

At the end of the soak, add soap, wash vigorously and reassess.

Step 5: Baking Soda and Water Soak

Picture of Baking Soda and Water Soak

Another method that works really well is to add one or two heaping teaspoons of baking soda and warm water into the water bottle and let that soak for a few hours.  

After the soak wash vigorously with soap and water and reassess.

Step 6: Overnight Vinegar Soak

Picture of Overnight Vinegar Soak

I found that this is the most effective method when dealing with a funky water bottle and perhaps the most simple. 

Fill the water bottle with regular white vinegar and let it soak overnight.

(make sure you've removed all of the baking soda first otherwise you'll have a mini 2nd grade DIY volcano on your  hands)

In the morning wash with soap and water.  The bottle will have a slight vinegar odor for the first few minutes, but that will quickly dissipate and the water bottle should smell fresh and clean.

I'm sure that there are other methods to clean a funky water bottle.  Leave comments with them and I'll test them out and upload them as additional steps to the Instructable in the future.

Good luck getting rid of the funk!


nannamom (author)2017-02-20

another way is with 1tsp of peroxide and baking soda using a brush and/or scrubby not only cleans the stainless steel or aluminum but sanitizes the interior I use this in my coffee container all the time also if rinsed really good there is no smell or after taste

AdamT59 made it! (author)2016-08-11

Did this : bought an evian falavored fruit water bottle then used it for water but mildly raspberried water didn't suit my taste. Did this step :

Step 2: Wash with bottle brush

and it worked !

mmyerspa (author)2016-07-13

Too many ads. So many ads that you have to look around to figure out how to read the article. Also why have the article on multiple pages. I won't be back. Ever.

Bussibar (author)2016-06-13

good ideas.

When you have kids like I do they tend to do dumb stuff like put hot chocolate in it milk in it or milk with orange juice and then not only is there funk there is stink that will not go away.

I use the overnight soak with vinegar and baking soda combined.

Then I put it in the dishwasher to sterilize it.

When my dishwasher broke and I could not sterilize it and feel good about the bottle being all clean and shiny I put it in the oven at 300°C for 15 minutes then I was all happy and it was all clean. Do this only with the stainless steel or aluminum bottles for the obvious reason that plastic will melt.

Good luck all.

RobertA209 (author)2016-06-10

Hello. This is something of a problem my wife and I have had over the years. It will work with refrigerators and freezers too.

Firstly, follow the advice given in the Instructable, then when the flask / fridge etc., is TOTALLY DRY, put a small handful of dry white rice into the flask. Or in the case of the fridge etc., an open topped container, this can then be sat in the door compartment or on a shelf. Close the flask / fridge etc., and when next you open it in 6 months to a years time it will smell nice inside. (Unless you can't stand the smell of dry rice)!

ooohlaa (author)2016-05-29

if u want to use denture tabs, they sell them in Dollar Tree for you guessed it, $1.

I have this problem with lemon and teabags. What I now do is rinse out and keep the stainless in the freezer. Then when I make tea, the cold makes it more quickly drinkable. Also do this with my coffee stainless cup. Don't put the caps in the dishwasher, they sometimes lose their seal integrity depending on the design.

ooohlaa (author)ooohlaa2016-06-05

good thinking but not so for me, guess I have really good thermoses because my previous one lasted many years, like 8, doing this every day with morning coffee, and its still good but scratched so I have a new one for a year and its brand is Liquiseal and the cap is heavy duty, costs around $20 in Ross. I guess it depends on design, this one is really sturdy cap and heavyweight stainless. So not necessarily so, but be forewarned anyway!

bettbee (author)ooohlaa2016-05-29

Thanks for the good idea! I have one thermos/mug that I can't make tea into directly because it's too hot for hours. Into the freezer it goes! (I don't mind non-steaming tea. Better than a burnt mouth.)

davidkichi (author)bettbee2016-06-05

I wouldn't keep a thermos in the freezer and then take it out and pour hot water into it, the metal will react to the different temperatures and warp as will the plastic lid and rubber seal. Just add some water after you pour hot liquid into half of the thermos to cool it down instead of pouring hot water to the brim. If you ever want to have it hot for a long time, then pour all hot water and when you get to your destination then uncap it and let the steam escape so it'll cool down gradually.

ooohlaa (author)bettbee2016-05-29

i have a large 24 oz tumbler so that makes it real cold but you might have to toss in an ice cube, that's what I used to do.

bettbee (author)ooohlaa2016-05-30

Thanks! Mine is about 16 ounces. I only need to tone it down a little to make it drinkable. I appreciate the tip, this will save me some time on days when I find myself in a hurry.

kronhead (author)2016-05-30

Seems like the article and the comments are focused on the BOTTLE - what has always bothered me are the nooks and crannies buried in the lid, if they are designed to sip thru some opening with moving parts. Taking the lid apart, and re-assembling it afterward are almost impossible. I have pretty much given up on this style, and just prefer to unscrew a solid lid. Anyone have any solutions to this problem?

davidkichi (author)kronhead2016-06-05

Reattaching the rubber seal gasket is tricky as you have to stretch it with a knife of some sort for immediate effect. If time wasn't important perhaps the cap can go into the freezer for some time and possibly shrink it a tiny bit and the rubber seal gasket should soak in hot water expanding it in hopes it'll slide right on in

rnorton2 (author)kronhead2016-05-30

oh yea the straws any idea how to clean thos hard plastic straws?

circe801 (author)rnorton22016-06-02

I simply use a slightly narrower straw to remove any gunk, and then wash thoroughly. Several pipe cleaners twisted together are quite effective as well.

I clean our sports bottles with a dilute bleach solution. I usually bleach them in series by pouring the solution from one bottle to the next.

I clean the straws by placing them in the bottle that I am bleaching. I place them in one way, then turn them over to bleach the other end. I like the accordion shaped straws and the bleach does a lovely job on them. Eons ago, I got a small diameter, long length brush made jus for cleaning sports bottle straws. I have no idea if you could still get one.

maria42 (author)kronhead2016-05-31

I use Milton sterilising tablets to clean the lid. (The tablets you sterilise baby bottles with.)
First clean the bottle with hot soapy water, then put the lid back on and squirt the soapy water out through the spout to get rid of any obvious gunk.
Then soak the lid for 30 mins or so in a container of Milton solution.
Job done :)

lpatrick7 (author)kronhead2016-05-30

I use the Kean Kanteen and it has that top that has the loop which happens to be hollow so I just put hot soapy water with a tbls. of bleach and screw it on and upend it so that the bleachy soapy water is inside the lid. I leave it for a bit then rinse the top well and scrub the bottle with a bottle brush.

hammer9876 (author)kronhead2016-05-30

I have a couple of these:
I can take the lid apart easily enough. There are still nooks and crannys though.

davidkichi (author)2016-06-05

I love all the different ways of cleaning it whether using chemicals like bleach/lye or chemical free ways like salt & lemon juice & crushed ice, vinegar and hot water soak, baking soda and warm water soak, sand and hot water, bottle brush & hot water & detergent,etc... I think for something really dirty and germy, I'd avoid using the brush since all the nasty stuff would stick on it and you'd have to clean it too afterwards. I've personally tried the vinegar and hot water soak in a tea/coffee stained thermos with the lid off overnight and the next day the inside was like brand new. Pouring sand with some type of liquid and shaking it till you break out into a sweat is another good solution especially for containers with a bottleneck when you don't have a wire/bottle brush handy.

davidkichi (author)davidkichi2016-06-05

I forgot to add that periodicly removing the rubber seal from the thermos cap and brushing everywhere with a tooth brush to get rid of the built up gunk is a must.

AlienC (author)2016-06-01

What happened to good old detergent and hot water soak and shake? Does this not work anymore?

MaryA17 (author)AlienC2016-06-03

Hmmmm......that's what I use too. Works for me. We must be old timey folks.

JustinK14 (author)MaryA172016-06-03

Unfortunately, that's useless when the funk is in the pouring mechanism!

dorkfay (author)2016-06-02

I remove the gasket and clean it and the lid. I make sure the gasket is warm from the water and use a teaspoon to tuck it place. I clean the bottle with soap water and Oxi-Clean

David the R (author)2016-05-31

Good ideas. I heat some water, pour a quarter cup of bleach into the bottle, fill, and seal. In a couple of minutes it looks like new. Rinse well!

jimustanguitar (author)2016-05-31

Some vacuum bottles (usually the double wall stainless ones) are not dishwasher safe, and the care instructions will tell you not to expose them to hot water. Check what kind of bottle you have first - check the manufacturer's website for care instructions.

aadro (author)2016-05-31

Here's a simpler method. Buy Dip-It or Lime-Away (with Dip-It Power) coffee pot and beverage bottle cleaner ( Make sure to get the cofee pot cleaner, not the coffee maker cleaner! Place a couple tablespoons of this Dip-It pot cleaner into your Klean Kanteen, add BOILING water, stir with a long spoon, let sit for 30 minutes, and you're done! No bottle brushes, scrubbing, dishwasher ing, no nothing. ?

ChristyT1 (author)2016-05-31

Fresh sueezed lemon juice salt and ice works for me

ttucker10 (author)2016-05-31

1/4 cup of bleach and the rest water..let soak for a couple hours and it cleans it perfectly

jimbru (author)2016-05-30

If I need to really clean out tea or coffee residue(or other deposits) from a thermos I put a tbl spoon of dishwasher detergent in it an then fill up with boiling water. Let it soak for a while and then use a brush. Pour some of the mix through the lid or disassemble it to clean out the gunk.

Boiling dishwasher detergent in a pot with burnt in oatmeal, rice, etc also works well. Be sure to start the fan though :)

yopauly (author)2016-05-30

If all else fails, a quarter teaspoon of clorine bleach will kill most anything still living in the bottle. rinse well and air dry.

yopauly (author)yopauly2016-05-30

You're both right. I haven't used plastic in forever. I can't stand the after taste.

jsawyer (author)yopauly2016-05-30

Strong bleach will etch stainless, so be careful...

Once in a while won't hurt, though...

dennis.bonner.52 (author)yopauly2016-05-30

That's great for stainless and glass but, do not use chlorine bleach in plastic.

rnorton2 (author)2016-05-30

remember lysol? well it use to contain lye. a very strong chemical. i had a crock pot thing that had plastic or food that burnt on to the sides and stuck for years of use. i took it to work one day to use for a gathering. For precaution i washed it all again before use and the only cleaner they had was lysol. Wouldn't you know it the several year old crud came off! i sprayed it again and let it sit for a few minutes and it was like new.

At Liberty (author)2016-05-29


I use copious amounts of bleach,and hot water, let it sit for a looooong time, then scrub with the soapiest of hot water.

Because germs must die.

jsawyer (author)At Liberty2016-05-30

Careful with bleach and stainless steel... it will pit and corrode the stainless, leaving pockets for the nasty's to take up residence...

At Liberty (author)jsawyer2016-05-30

Thank you! I'm aware. It hasn't happened yet, that I've notices.

jsawyer (author)At Liberty2016-05-30

It is probably a time/concentration thing... Bleach is my friend!

flowergirl19 (author)At Liberty2016-05-30

The problem with bleach however, is that I always manage to ruin whatever I'm wearing even if I try to be very careful. I do like vinegar and baking soda though. And boiling water. And Clean & Simple.

webfingerzz (author)2016-05-29

When I want a sparkly clean Klean Kanteen, I use PBW (Powdered Brewer's Wash). It's used to clean beer brewing equipment where you don't have physical access to what you're trying to clean; things like hoses and insides of valves. It's environmentally friendly, and doesn't leave any smell whatsoever.

I normally put 1/2 teaspoon in my 12 ounce kanteen, fill it up with hot water, and let it sit for an hour or overnight, depending on the stains inside. No scrubbing, just rinse it out well (5 times according to the instructions).

jsawyer (author)webfingerzz2016-05-30

Brilliant! PBW is great. You can make your own from Washing Soda (which can be made by heating baking soda) and Oxy-Clean... Lots of DIY options...

iFix8 (author)webfingerzz2016-05-30

PBW is simply buffered alkaline detergent of which there are many in most stores, varying mainly by alkalinity. The bio-safe variety do less harm to the environment.

flowergirl19 (author)webfingerzz2016-05-30

Thank you for this tip. I just bought some and can think of so many uses for it already!

iFix8 (author)2016-05-30

I have found that prevention is part of the solution. I add a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to the contents to kill most of the creatures that might decide I'm making them a smoothie. It doesn't affect the taste.

rxima (author)iFix82016-05-30

I don't think hydrogen peroxide is good for you unless its diluted a lot

iFix8 (author)rxima2016-05-30

I see your site reference, and raise you mine:
Using a cell phone causes brain tumors. Try to put things in perspective. It has NO carcinogens, you know, the things that cause cancer that are contained in most of the food you intake, and in at least some of the air you're forced to breath.
But I guess it's your choice: kill the germs now, or possibly intake chemicals later that didn't completely rinse out of your bottle after that 'thorough' rinsing. But wait, you probably already drank some. Too late to worry about it.

ccooper-burke (author)2015-06-21

I'm pretty forgetful, and can't carry much, anyway - so things get left in the car, often. I use denture cleaner tablets. Fill the bottle with hot tap water, drop in a couple of denture tabs, and let it sit over night. In the morning, Voila'! clean and fresh - just rinse well, fill and go.

Studio Rat (author)ccooper-burke2016-05-29

that works! I've also used them to clean old thermos bottles.

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