hand holding plastic water bottle

The next time you reach for the faucet to refill a plastic water bottle, stop and consider the risks first.

Bottled water is packaged in containers intended to be used one time and then thrown away or recycled. The same goes for plastic soft drink bottles.


A lot of people refill these containers, thinking they're being frugal or protecting the environment. However, doing so can result in serious health problems. 

There are several dangers associated with refilling plastic water bottles, each of which is a good reason to avoid this practice altogether.

PET Risks

Fact is, the containers bottled water is packaged in are not intended to be used over and over. They're manufactured for the purpose of being single use, disposable containers. Even plastics manufacturers will tell you that. 

The material these bottles are made from is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This substance is perfectly safe for disposable containers, but is not safe for multiple uses. 

PET breaks down and may release dangerous toxins with repeated usage. Antimony, in particular, is a concern, according to the National Institutes of Health

Although it's not considered a carcinogen, antimony can cause digestive problems if it's ingested.

It's not a huge risk, but it can happen. That's one reason disposable water bottles shouldn't be refilled and reused.

Bacterial Dangers

In addition to the risks posed by PET, reusing water bottles also poses a significant risk of bacterial infection.

When you drink bottled water, germs find their way into the containers in various ways. Bacteria on your hands and especially in your mouth can be transferred into the container.

When those containers are refilled for later use, they're likely to be carried around or stored in an environment that allows bacteria to thrive and grow. So then later, when you drink it, you're exposing yourself to the risk of infection.

Washing Isn't Sufficient

There is a common misconception that it's okay to refill water bottles if they are washed in between uses.

However, this is just not the case. 

For one thing, the shape of a bottle with its curves and narrow neck make it difficult to clean, even with a bottle brush.

In order to kill any bacteria that get into the bottle, it would have to be sterilized in order to be safe to reuse. But how can you sterilize it?

You can't put boiling water in it because it will melt the plastic. And running it through the dishwasher will speed up the breakdown process, increasing the release of toxins.

Instead of trying to clean it, you'd be better off just recycling it.

Don't Risk Water Bottle Reuse

Your health is too precious to risk exposing yourself to the very real dangers associated with reusing disposable water bottle containers.

It's important to avoid exposing yourself to toxic substances and bacteria by reusing these containers.

If you purchase bottled water, dispose of the containers after the original liquid is gone. It's certainly better to recycle them than to toss them in the trash.

But, whatever you do, don't fill them up and use them again!

Last Updated on April 7, 2022

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  1. Do you have any recommendations on water bottles that are safe and are the same shape of typical water bottles? I have been looking and it’s hard to figure out if they are the same shape that will fit into car drink holders and typical places plastic water bottles are stored. Thank you

    1. Hi Cathy! I don’t know of any that are exactly the same shape as plastic water bottles. There are a few slim bottles that I found on Amazon, like this one: It’s actually a thermos. I think the diameter is small enough that it would fit in a cup holder. You could measure your cup holder and compare it to the dimensions on the products you’re looking at online. Amazon almost always gives the dimensions in the product descriptions.

      1. Hey, Cathy, I totally forgot about the Boroux water bottles. They’re made of borosilicate glass and come in a variety of styles and colors. I think they might be just the right size to fit in a cup holder. Amazon sells them, but they’re less expensive from Berkey Filters. You can find them here.

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