How to Clean Plastic Water Jugs

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The drink market may be exploding with a dizzying selection of brands, flavors, and types of drinks, but sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a nice, cool drink of good ol' H2O. If you own refillable plastic water jugs, you should know how to clean them properly because water is a good replacement for those other yummy beverages only if it comes from clean, bacteria-free containers.


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How to Clean With Rice

You should clean your water jug using rice and dishwashing liquid every two weeks. Add 1 gallon of tap water, 1 cup of rice, and 1 squirt of dishwashing liquid to the jug. Holding it over a sink with your hand clamped over the opening, shake in all directions for 30 seconds, allowing the rice to scrape the interior of the jug. Dump the mixture and rinse. If you aren't going to disinfect with bleach, continue rinsing until all soap residue is gone and then allow the jug to air dry.


How to Disinfect With Bleach

Your water jug should be disinfected with bleach after the rice cleaning twice a year to kill bacteria. To disinfect after dumping the rice and water, add 1 teaspoon of unscented disinfecting bleach and another gallon of tap water. Put a cap on the jug, shake it for 30 seconds, and allow it to sit for five to 15 minutes with the cap on. Pour out the bleach solution and rinse several times with tap water.


If you can still detect the smell of bleach after several rinses, add 1 cup of baking soda. Shake it dry around the jug and then add 1 gallon of water and shake for 30 seconds before dumping and rinsing thoroughly. Turn the jug upside down and allow it to dry overnight.

If You Can't Use Bleach

If you have no bleach on hand or, like some people, simply prefer not using bleach in your water jugs, you can replace it with one of several alternatives to help clean and deodorize: white distilled vinegar, over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda.


To use either vinegar or peroxide after rinsing out the rice and soap mixture, add 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon of water, shake the solution around in the bottle, and then fill the bottle with tap water. Put a cap on the bottle and allow it to stand for approximately 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly and air drying. To use baking soda, follow the same procedure using 2 tablespoons per gallon of water.