Refilling Your Plastic Water Bottles Is Really, Really Bad, So Stop Doing It


Everyone carries a plastic water bottle these days. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold outside; plastic water bottles are handy, practical and easy to buy. And, if you care about the environment, you probably don’t mind refilling your plastic bottle whenever you run out.

But did you know this might be bad for you? You probably think that refilling your disposable plastic water bottle is fine because, after all, it’s just water. There’s no way it can be dirty! But most people don’t know the truth.

Research actually suggests that there are plenty of reasons why people should be discouraged from refilling their disposable water bottles. 

Here are some of them:

Germs. According to research, the cracks in plastic water bottles are perfect breeding places for bacteria. This isn’t because of the plastic itself, but because people don’t usually wash their disposable plastic bottles before reusing them.

A study by the Canadian Journal of Public Health found that two-thirds of their samples had levels of bacteria that were beyond the acceptable standard. This is because hot temperatures, combined with a moist environment, are perfect for bacteria to flourish.


Some studies found that when people reuse water bottles for too long, they can develop symptoms of food poisoning. Some people can get diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea in the more extreme cases.

The solution? Wash your disposable plastic bottles thoroughly before reusing them. Or, alternatively, invest in a reusable plastic water bottle that you can use more than once without worrying. 

Harmful chemicals. In some cases, certain plastic water bottles can release harmful chemicals when they’re washed for reuse at high temperatures. Bottles marked with a number 1 are made of polyethylene terephthalate, which has been linked to cancer.

Bottles marked with a “3” contain polyvinyl chloride, which contains phthalates. Many studies have shown a link between those chemicals and poor reproductive health.

You might be harming the environment. It seems like common sense to wash your disposable plastic water bottles, doesn’t it? You’re trying not to contribute to the bulk of landfills by doing this. Surely, it’s a good thing. Well, it turns out it isn’t.

According to Columbia University’s Health Services, it’s more helpful to the environment if you save the water you use for washing the plastic bottles. The soap and detergent you use to wash them are also known to make their way back to municipal water sources, so start with that instead.

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