I have this habit of having a water of bottle near me when I go to sleep. Not a while ago I used a plastic bottle for that - I refilled it each day or two.

I read somewhere that plastic encourages bacteria growth (and in general not too healthy to use), and decided to replace the plastic bottle with a stainless steel one.

It has a cork and I close it after each use.

The problem is - the water gets smelly after a day. It get's this weird smell it's hard to explain. Smells maybe like mold. I cleaned the bottle with soap and hot water, but the smell returns after a day.

I thought maybe I should store the bottle without the cork?

What would be the "healthiest" way to have a bottle of water near you, with minimal implications like bad smell, bacteria growth, etc?

  • 1
    I think regardless of the material, the healthiest way in means of preventing bacteria would be to empty and clean it once a day.
    – skymningen
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 10:44
  • 1
    Also consider the water itself can carry odors that settle out. I've traveled in regions where the water (even after filtering) had odd odors that were still noticeable when the water sat out a while.
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 6:53

5 Answers 5


Plastic bottles work just fine. When buying sparkling water (I'm German), they come in plastic bottles and never get this taste of old shoe soles, and I haven't had any problems with bacteria either.

In your case, the cork could be a problem, as was pointed out before. I personally have made the experience that water in steel bottles always tastes a bit different to me than "plain water". If it is just the cork, I recommend using a different lid like this

As you were asking for the "healthiest way of having water in a bottle": Just don't. Exchange the content of the bottle everyday, but rinse the bottle with very hot water before refilling. This is the safest way I know of.

Again, this is largely based on experience and I don't have scientific studies I could quote.

  • Other than the bacteria I think he was looking at things like BPA. Regarding sanitizing bottles, hot water is good for short term, but at least every few days the bottle itself should probably be washed ,depending on how much contact it has with your mouth - more often if you suck on a spout versus pouring it into your mouth without touching it (yes people do that)
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 7:19

I agree with the answers on cleaning and the type of bottle/cork/lid.

Another thing you should consider is that residue from your saliva may be what smells bad. Try leaving the freshly-cleaned bottle filled with your usual water out for a day without drinking from it and see if there is any odor, in which case it might be your water source. Then try changing your oral hygiene habits - brushing after meals, brushing your TONGUE, gargling with mouthwash - and see if that improves anything.


I don't have a citation on this

Also use a brush and clean the outside of the mouth also

Let it sit and dry completely.

I rotate with two bottles.

Does the cork smell? The cork is porous and may be holding some bacteria.


Compare the symptoms of Cork Taint with your observations. If they match then it would be sensible to remove the cork from practice. Cork is porous material and can harbor bacteria / mold etc. In contrast, glass / plastic does not provide a foot hold for bacteria (though water does).

Emptying the vessel every morning, rinsing and allowing it to dry should flush bacteria away and prevent odors. If there is an existing odor, it may require several cycles in the dishwasher


What would be the "healthiest" way to have a bottle of water near you, with minimal implications like bad smell, bacteria growth, etc?

Bad smells come from bacteria and/or algae [1]. As living being they need water to live. Because the goal is to get rid of them, we can act:

  1. limiting the time in which spores are in touch with water.
  2. limiting the number of spores given by amount of water.

For your case-study, if you need water when you sleep, you can use a glass or two of water, instead of an entire water bottle, if it meets you needs.

In this way, you accomplish both points 1. and 2.

I refilled it each day or two.

Following point 1., you should refill your bottle everyday and maybe most important, empty and wash it as you wake up, so during the day it will dry (put the bottle upside-down so drops of water fall down naturally) by itself; refill it just before you go sleep.

I read somewhere that plastic encourages bacteria growth (and in general not too healthy to use)

I haven't heard it anywhere, so I can't say anything about bacteria in plastic bottle. Instead, I use a metal bottle "just" because it's healthy.

a. Proved by my personal experience: I use a metal bottle everyday for work and free time activities and if I don't empty and wash (just with water) for some day, I get bad smells too!
b. Last but not least, your bottle now could be damaged: algae could have fitted in narrow spots, like the mouth and you can't reach it with simple water and/or soap. Using specific products could help you.


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