If you want to keep your bicycle water bottles and hydration bladders sanitary, and tasting and smelling fresh, then you need to clean them regularly. This article shows you how to remove that funky smell from your favorite water bottle using Bottle Bright Natural Cleaning Tablets without using harsh chemicals or bleach, leaving them squeaky clean!
Hydration Bladders and Water Bottles Can Get Really Gross If Not Cleaned Properly
Hydration bladders like those used in Camelbaks, or other hydration packs can be difficult to clean especially if you fill them with electrolyte mixes or energy drinks. They pose more challenges in cleaning since it’s hard to get into their nooks and crannies with a brush. Conventional bottles nozzles are the biggest challenge but some newer designs, like the Camelbak Podium, uses more complex nozzles and caps that can be more difficult to clean. Sometimes soapy water just doesn't cut it.
I first discovered Bottle Bright when I was shopping at REI. I overheard another customer who was raving to her friend about how well these tablets worked on her Camelbak. Well, that piqued my interest and decided to grab a box and try them. The price was reasonable enough for an impulse buy and I was looking for another option. Why not eh?
Cleaning My Really Gross Thermos
A while back I happened to notice that my old reliable thermos looked really gross inside. It also had a foul odor. It seems that despite regular washings, the interior was badly stained or rusted. Since thermoses are made from stainless steel, they shouldn’t rust, but yes, it was so badly stained that it looked like rust. Hardly sanitary.
I tried using a white vinegar solution to clean it along with lots of hot soapy water. Even using a bottle brush didn't help get the gunk out. I tried using a baking soda solution and hot water. The stubborn stain remained. Still no improvement.
A few days later I'm getting my Camelbak ready for a mountain bike ride and remembered that I had Bottle Bright tablets that I use to clean and disinfect my Camelbak bladder. Maybe they'd clean my thermos?
Before I found out about Bottle Bright, I used to use dish detergent to wash the bladder followed by rinsing with warm water with two or three drops of bleach. While this effective in cleaning, it left a bleach aftertaste. Now I just drop one tablet into the bladder along with warm water and let it soak for a few minutes. Then give it a good rinse and you're ready to go. While this method has been effective, I've never cared for the notion of using bleach.
Look at the photos and you'll see how nasty the thermos was. Next is the tablets in action, working their magic. The last photo shows the interior of the thermos after cleaning. As you can see, the results were pretty amazing! I also use these to clean my stainless steel Klean Kanteen too.
How to Use Bottle Bright Tablets
Bottle Bright's instructions are to fill your bottle with warm water and add one tablet per liter of water. Then let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Empty and rinse. I prefer to give it a routine soap and water wash afterwards with a thorough rinsing but that's just me.
What's In These Cleaning Tablets That Make Them So Effective?
Bottle Bright claims that their tablets are "Natural, powerful, biodegradable, & chlorine free".
The official ingredients are:
According to the package, Sodium carbonate peroxide, sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium polyitaconate, sodium carbonate, sodium chloride, water (as added), sodium silicate, stearoyl glutamate, sodium lauroyl glutamate.
Translated into non-chemist terms:
These are derived from (as the box states): Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, citrus fruits, wood pulp, salts, water, water softener, plants & minerals.
What Does An Actual Chemist Say About The Ingredients?
I asked my friend, Daniel Torok, Ph.D.., who is both a pharmaceutical organic chemist and an avid cyclist. Dan received his MS from the University of Arizona, his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from University of Iowa and performed his post-doctoral fellowship in microbiology and medicinal chemistry at the National Institute of Health. Dan has served in the pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years and can deliver a hell of a lead out as well as kick your butt climbing Clingmans Dome.
As a longtime friend and riding partner, he's witnessed firsthand some of my gross water bottle accidents. Let's just say that you should never leave bottles of Skratch in the back of your car for weeks at a time. Not unless you intend to grow a nice batch of black sludge. FYI, bananas accidentally left under cars seats may also become naturally dehydrated or mummified depending on your opinion on the matter.
Here's Dr. Dan's take on Bottle Bright Natural Cleaning tablets:
The effervescent tablets, when introduced to hot water, create a cleaning solution that will kill harmful bacteria as well as odor-causing bacteria without resorting to a bleach solution.
Dr. Daniel Torok breaks down the ingredients:
Sodium carbonate peroxide, forms hydrogen peroxide when water is added.
Microcrystalline cellulose likely just a "filler" to make dispersion of the powder easier otherwise the actives would be too concentrated to easily dose out.
Sodium polyitaconate, stabilizes surfactants (soaps) making them more "gentle".
Stearoyl glutamate, emulsifier (helps put things into solution, likely the crud you’re washing out of the bottle).
Sodium lauroyl glutamate. A surfactant (soap).
Bottle Bright tablets offer a deep cleaning and can help remove stubborn or tough stains, while getting too hard-to-reach areas (especially important for hydration bladders) knocking out harmful germs and bad tastes. They should be equally safe and effective for plastic water bottles, hydration reservoirs, as well as your favorite stainless-steel bottle or thermos. The price is reasonable at anywhere from 45 cents up to 67 cents per tablet depending on the package.
Where To Buy Bottle Bright Natural Cleaning Tablets
Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds. No compensation from the manufacturer or distributor was received.
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