Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How To // Get Odors out of a Nalgene Water Bottle

We’ve all done it, you come home from a long hike and dump your pack on the floor and just leave it there for awhile. You're too tired to empty out your pack now, you'll get to it later. Days pass by and when you open your water bottle up the destict aroma of “water bottle funk” fills the air. Not to fret, It takes less than 5 minutes to totally cleanse that funky bottle.

It’s simple and easy though to get out the gross and get back to fresh clean water for the trail.

What You’ll Need:

  1. A Funky Water Bottle or Reservoir
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Hot Water


Step 1

Open the Water Bottle and Spoon in about 1/4 of a cup Baking Soda.

Step 2

Add about 1/8th a cup of Hot Water (but not boiling, you don’t want the plastic to melt!) so you have a cake batter like mix in the bottom.

Step 3

Close the water bottle and shake the mix around letting it coat the sides of the water bottle. Shake upside down so the mix gets into cap threading.

Step 4

Usually a simple wash will do the job, but for stubborn odors let the closed water bottle sit upside down for 12-24 hours.

Step 5

Dump out the mix and clean the bottle with warm water and a bottle brush.

Step 6

Once all the mix has been rinsed out let the water bottle dry upside down with the cap open preferably on a drying rack so that air can flow in and out of the bottle. Be sure to clean the treading on the inside of the cap.

Final Step

Refill your fresh smelling water bottle and hit the trail, enjoying clean, non-funky water.


  1. Great tip, there is nothing more off putting than a musty smelling water bottle!

  2. You're not alone Daniel! While a hot water rinse will kill the live bacteria inside the funk has a tendency to lock into the plastic walls even after the buggies are gone.

    That's where the baking soda comes in to play.

  3. whitening toothpaste also works. wash it with dish soap first. Afterwards, put some toothpaste in the bottle, fill with warm water then shake for a little bit then rinse it out.

  4. That makes sense because Toothpaste also contains Sodium Bicarbonate - known otherwise as Baking Soda. I should think that Baking Soda would work more efficiently but that's a nice tip in a pinch. Or even something you can work out on a long backpacking trip.

  5. Be careful when using this method with older polycarbonate bottles based on BPA, as heat and abrasive materials are the main causes of the chemical's leakage. When in doubt, warm water and a mild dish soap can work just as well.

  6. Good note.

    For those who might be wondering polycarbonate = plastic by the way. I'd add that it's always a bad idea to use excessive heat with any plastic product especially water bottles. Warm to Hot water is what's called for in the guide and I think I may not have emphasized enough that you really don't want to have scalding hot water for a whole host of reasons. Chemical breakdown the foremost of them.

    However there are some water bottles that I've found have "the funk" that just won't come out with the standard soap and water procedure. The baking soda won't cause any chemical breakdown so if you're concerned about chemical breakdown you can use lukewarm or even cold water to achieve a similar effect.

  7. Awesome. This is wonderful I put some rum in my flask and can't get the stink out! :)

  8. 5 minutes + 12 to 24 hours mentioned in step 4 ;)

  9. "It takes less than 5 minutes"
    "Step 4 - Let the closed water bottle sit upside down for 12-24 hours."

    "What You’ll Need: A Funky Water Bottle or Reservoir, Baking Soda, Hot Water"
    "Step 5 - Dump out mix and clean the bottle with warm water and a bottle brush."

    I'm sure this works but you should fix that. Sorry I'm a jerk.