As frugal as I am, I do not refill disposable plastic bottles. On rare occasions when I found myself stuck buying a bottle of water, I used to save the empty plastic bottle and reuse it. Not anymore. When I was researching reusable bottles last fall, I came across a Canadian study that had tested water bottles in a school and found that 13% had bacteria levels exceeding drinking water guidelines by the end of the school day. Worse than that, approximately 9% were found to have fecal coliforms. Ugh! Apparently, the children hadn’t washed their hands well before opening and closing the bottles. Even if hands are clean, there are bacteria in your mouth that will get into your drink. After sitting at room temperature all day on their desks, the bacteria had multiplied and the bottled water wasn’t too clean.
With all these germs, it is important to be able to get a bottle clean before reusing it. Disposable plastic bottles are made out of polyethylene terephthalate, PET or PETE for short. There will be a #1 in the plastic resin code triangle on the bottom. They are manufactured for a single use – the plastic is very thin and easily damaged so they are not designed to withstand washing or multiple uses. Getting them clean is also difficult because the top opening is very narrow. They never really get dry.