How to Clean a Water Cooler Bottle


Carol asked: We have a Brita water cooler. We reuse the bottle by filling it up with tap water. There is a brown film on the bottom of the bottle. How can we clean the bottle?

Any growth inside of the water bottle is a sign that unwanted germs and mold have become trapped and made themselves a new home. While it is easiest to replace the bottle with a new one, it may be possible to remove this brown crud with a few creative “scrubbers.”

You Will Need:

  • Bleach or dish soap
  • Water
  • Rice
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Baby bottle scrubber
  • Soft cloth

Steps to Remove the Growth:

  1. Choose a cleaning product from the above list, either dish soap or bleach (or both) to begin cleaning the bottle and killing whatever is growing inside.
  2. Fill the bottle about ¼ full with water and add a small amount of dish soap and/or bleach.
  3. Swish the water around by shaking and swirling the container.
  4. It may be necessary to add something to the water to produce some friction on the surface of the bottle.
  5. Rice or crushed ice can be poured into the water and then swirled/shaken to allow it to scrub against the surface and remove the growth.
  6. If the bottle is small, a baby bottle brush may be inserted through the neck and bent to clean the sides and area leading up to the opening.
  7. If the opening is large enough, drop a dish cloth into the container and swish it around.
  8. If using salt, it’s best to use it with just a little bit of lemon juice (no water, or the salt will dissolve). Swish it around and allow the salt to scrape the growth from the surface.
  9. Once the build-up is removed, rinse the bottle thoroughly to remove any cleaning residue.
  10. Keep a close eye on the bottle as the growth will likely return.
  11. Clean it promptly before it contaminates the water.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If you’re really feeling creative, attach some sponges to a bent wire hanger for an extended brush.
  • If the build-up or growth cannot be removed, recycle the bottle and start with a fresh one. It’s not healthy to keep drinking from a bottle in these conditions.


  1. Maxine says:

    Is there not a tablet or something we can use to stop the build up at the bottom of a bottle? I have tried all the above and it only lasts about a couple of months and then you must you must clean it again.
    I keep buying new bottles.

  2. Bob says:

    Thanks! Great article!

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