cleaning a S'well bottle

how to clean a s’well bottle

Call me a bottle snob, but I love my S'well water bottle.  With a svelte style, the bottle is slim enough to fit in a cup holder or stash in a gym bag. But the bottle still holds plenty of fluid. Moreover, with vacuum insulation, S’well bottles keep liquids cool for hours; perfect for long hikes and travel.

But the bottle is a pain to clean. I discovered that S'well bottles cannot be placed in a dishwasher as they have temperature sensitive components similar to travel coffee mugs and plastic containers. Cleaning S’well bottles is a hand-wash affair only.

Armed with a sponge and soap, I found it was easy enough to clean the bottle's outside surface. But the narrow mouth makes scrubbing out the bottle’s inside impossible. Sure, the small opening to the bottle makes on-the-go drinking easy, but it is a cleaning design flaw. S'well sells a specially designed brush for washing.  But dropping $20 on a little brush to clean a single bottle struck me as absurd.

I compounded these hygienic issues by putting more than water in my S'well.  As a runner, I often put energy drinks in my water bottle, sometimes mixing in sugary powders or an electrolyte tablet to stay energized during treadmill workouts. I even put protein recovery mixes into the bottle for post-workout recovery.  These sugary and milk-based products leave a smelly mess in the bottle.

After a few months of intensive use, I learned to just avoid looking directly into the gunky interior of my bottle. Ignorance seemed preferable to the knowledge that I could not clean out the ever-growing gunk within the bottle. The best I could think was to swirl sudsy water in the bottle and grit through the soapy aftertaste. Not ideal. I needed a better idea on how to clean a Swell bottle.

One weekend, after filling the bottle at the tap for a quick mid-afternoon swig, I raised the S'well to my nose only to be greeted by the striking smell of old Gatorade, electrolyte tablets, and protein powders... all mixed into a single, funky odor.  As I swallowed ostensibly fresh water, the scent of months-old energy drink lingered in my nostrils. The water was probably safe to drink. But it certainly wasn't enjoyable, and a more effective Swell bottle cleaner was necessary.

Enter the Bottle Bright cleaning tablet.

Small enough to be dropped into a S'well bottle's narrow mouth, the tablets packed a big fizzing punch. I dropped one in and watched the tablets do their work. Bottle Bright is a multisensory experience: the ingredients pop in an effervescent dance that lifts up odors and residue. I watched the tablet react with water to fizz and foam away within the interior of the bottle.

My S’well bottle was opaque and I was eager to see Bottle Bright in action. So I filled my glass coffee carafe with water and dropped in another tablet.  It exploded into a vortex of bubbles, streaming upwards in an ebullient tornado.

After leaving the tablet in the filled water bottle for twenty minutes and pouring out the cleaner, the metallic sheen had returned to the interior of my S'well bottle. The gunky residue was gone and the malodorous scent had disappeared. In the carafe, the rusty sheen left by hundreds of cups of coffee had been lifted away. The glass looked brand new. Consider me impressed with this new experience of cleaning swell bottles.

I can see how the tablets would work well beyond the kitchen. They pack easy for overnight camping trips or long day hikes. All you need is access to water so that you can toss a Bottle Bright tablet into the filled bottle. The tablet is non-toxic, so it is safe to drink after use, even without rinsing.  Moreover, Bottle Bright is biodegradable, so you can empty out the contents without damaging the environment.

After my first experiment with the S'well bottle and coffee carafe, I found myself weirdly wondering what else I could clean with Bottle Bright. Soft flasks? Yep. Travel mug? You bet. More importantly, the next time the grimy residue of energy drinks in my S’well attacks my olfactory organs, I'll be ready. I have Bottle Bright on standby.