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Why Is My Contigo Water Bottle Smelling Strange?

It’s frustrating when your once-fresh-smelling Contigo bottle starts emitting mysterious odors. From sour milk to moldy smells, unpleasant scents can make your daily water bottle unpleasant to use. In this guide, I’ll cover all the possible causes of strange smells in Contigo bottles and provide helpful solutions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Residual beverages, poor cleaning, bacteria, and improper drying can cause smells
  • Identify odor sources like mildew, plastic tastes, or spoiled milk
  • Wash with baking soda and vinegar to remove stains and odors
  • Allow the bottle to air-dry fully after each wash
  • Deep-clean bottles every week with a thorough scrubbing

Read on for my complete troubleshooting guide so you can pinpoint why your Contigo bottle smells funky or stale. I’ll provide valuable tips on cleaning methods, storage, and when to give up on deodorizing a stubbornly stinky bottle. Let’s start by covering the most common offenders when Contigos start to reek.

What Causes a Contigo Water Bottle to Start Smelling?

Contigo’s patented designs are great at keeping smells locked in, which is great for retaining fresh water taste but unpleasant when odors start to linger. The most typical culprits behind smelly Contigo bottles include:

  • Residual liquids like juices, sports drinks, or spoiled dairy products
  • Grimy plastic textures trap sticky residue
  • Bacterial accumulation from poor cleaning habits
  • Improper drying leads to mold, mildew, and other “stale water” odors

Common reasons for odor development in a Contigo water bottle, why those reasons can create an odor, and simple solutions to eliminate that odor.

Reasons for OdorWhy It Can Create an OdorSimple Solution
Beverage ResidueLeftover liquids can decompose, especially sugary or dairy-based drinks, leading to bacterial growth and odor.Thoroughly wash the bottle with hot, soapy water and let it dry completely.
Infrequent CleaningBacteria and mold can grow in moist environments that aren’t cleaned regularly.Clean your bottle after every use, especially if you’ve used it for beverages other than water.
Seal & Lid GasketSeals and gaskets can trap moisture and particles, creating an ideal environment for odors to develop.Remove the seals and wash them separately. Allow to air dry completely before reassembling.
Stored in a Damp LocationStoring a bottle in a damp environment can promote the growth of mold and mildew.Store the bottle in a dry place with the cap off to allow air circulation.
Using for Multiple Types of BeveragesDifferent beverages can leave behind residues or particles that contribute to odors over time.Dedicate bottles to specific types of beverages, or ensure thorough cleaning between uses.

Usually, an unpleasant surprise is that the first whiff of a stinky Contigo can be mildly annoying to downright nauseating. Now let’s dive deeper into the specifics behind musty leftover beverage residue and why it causes lingering stenches.

How Can Residual Beverages Affect Your Bottle’s Smell?

Even the smallest amount of spoiled milk, fermented juice, or contaminated water left coating the inside of your Contigo can make the bottle smell horrendous fast. Foods and liquids all have their own distinct foul odor once expired and are best avoided inside reusable bottles.

Powerful examples include curdled dairy products, yeasty alcohol residues, vinegary fruit juices, and rotten vegetable matter. Even sports drinks with mineral content can leave salty, chemical, or medicinal smells behind.

The key is thoroughly rinsing out all traces of beverages after each use before odors have a chance to develop. However, some drink types are more problematic than others when it comes to retaining smells inside bottles.

Are Certain Liquids More Prone to Retaining Odors?

High protein and thick viscosity fluids like dairy products, smoothies, and health shakes tend to stubbornly coat bottle interiors if not promptly washed out. Sugary sodas and fruit juices also cling and get stinky fast.

Even water can develop unpleasant mineral, metallic, or plastic/chemical tastes if left sitting too long in bottles. So remember to promptly rinse all beverages and allow bottles to fully dry after each use to avoid smells.

Here’s a simple graph showing how likely some common beverages can leave orders in your Contigo bottle.

Of course, another common reason for stinky Contigo bottles is inconsistent washing habits. Let’s look next at how poor cleaning contributes to strange scents. There are more great tips ahead on tackling smelly bottles caused by beverage residue buildup.

How can inadequate Cleaning Lead to Strange Smells?

Irregular or inadequate washing leaves organic matter and bacteria accumulation inside your Contigo over time. Just like dirty dishes in the sink, grimy bottle interiors become smelly bio-incubators.

Without hot water and soap killing and flushing away germs, odors get progressively worse. Funky smells indicate it’s time to improve your bottle-cleaning habits.

Even with daily washing, bacteria could be the root cause of stubborn, stinky bottle odors. Let’s look next at the origin of unpleasant scents.

Can Bacteria Build-Up Cause Your Bottle to Smell?

Absolutely. Bacteria love to grow and spread in moist, enclosed spaces like water bottles. Without vigilant cleaning habits, strains like pseudomonas will colonize all surfaces and emit rank odors.

You especially risk contamination and nasty smells if you share your Contigo with others. Backwash and germ exposure can quickly make a bottle smell foul, even with daily rinsing.

Now that we’ve covered the typical reasons for stinky Contigo odors, let’s talk about identifying exactly what type of smell you’re dealing with. Pinpointing the origin helps troubleshoot solutions.

How to Identify the Source of Your Contigo Bottle’s Smell?

Start by emptying out any remaining liquids still inside your funky-smelling Contigo. Next, take note of clues like:

  • Bottle material: Does plastic have a chemical smell? Do metal linings seem metallic?
  • Location: Does the bottle smell inside and outside of the mouthpiece, straw, and lid?
  • Describe the odor: Stale, vinegar, plastic, chemical, rotten eggs, etc.
  • When noticed: After storing, before first use, intermittent?

By detecting patterns related to materials, use cases, or maintenance, you can strategize likely causes. This also helps rule out false positives like storage boxes or bags contributing to smells instead of the bottle itself.

Sometimes a “new” smell out of the box can be confused with a cleanliness issue. But some odor from packaging or factory assembly is totally normal with new Contigos.

Is It Normal for a New Contigo Bottle to Have a Smell?

Brand-new Contigo bottles may have faint odors from plastic materials, quality control testing, sterilization processes, or even packing materials that dissipate with initial washes. Typical smells described as plasticky, chemical, rubbery, metallic, powdery, floral, or antiseptic are usually harmless.

But if the new bottle smell is overpowering, acrid, related to beverage residue, or persists after a few cycles through the dishwasher, contact Contigo support about a replacement.

Next, let’s talk about another easily remedied source of temporary Contigo bottle smells: storage!

Can Storing Your Bottle Improperly Contribute to Unpleasant Odors?

Definitely! Leaving bottle remnants, drops of liquid, condensation, or even humidity inside containers creates ripe conditions for mold, bacteria, or staleness.

Storing bottles horizontally also allows backwash and interior residue to spread and get stinky faster. So, make sure no pools exist by:

  • Inverting bottles overnight after washing
  • Storing caps in clean, dry containers
  • Not nesting dirty bottles or parts together
  • Allowing all pieces to air dry before closing up

Diligent washing and drying prevents most stinky bottle issues. So let’s talk about guidelines on cleaning frequency.

How Often Should You Clean Your Contigo Bottle to Prevent Odors?

To keep smells at bay:

  • Wash daily with hot water and soap after each use
  • Scrub off any visible gunk stuck to the sides
  • Disassemble to clean nooks and crannies
  • Rinse 3–4 times until the water runs clear
  • Fully air-dry all parts after each wash

I recommend deeper weekly cleanings too.

  • Disinfect with diluted white vinegar or lemon juice
  • Use bottle brushes to detail hard-to-reach areas
  • Periodically sanitize with no-scrub bottle-cleaning tablets

Finding the right cleaning solutions can also make deodorizing easier. Let’s talk about options for tackling smelly bottle messes next.

What Cleaning Solutions Are Best for Removing Smells?

My top recommendations for cleaning and deodorizing stanky Contigo bottles include:

Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia that degrade plastic and rubber parts over time. Acids and alcohol tend to leave medicinal smells behind, necessitating extra hot water rinses too.

For quick, targeted odor removal, try these home deodorizing remedies.

Are There Any Home Remedies for Deodorizing Contigo Bottles?

Yes! Concoct these fast, smelly bottle treatments:

  • Baking soda paste: Sprinkle inside, add water, scrub, and rinse
  • Lemon/lime juice: Shake juice in the bottle, and let sit closed for 1 hour
  • White vinegar soak: Fill bottle and let sit for 15–30 minutes
  • Oxygen booster: Dissolve denture-cleaning tablet in warm water and soak
  • Sunshine: Place in direct sunlight to zap bacteria

Be sure to fully rinse away all cleaning solution residues after soaking and scrubbing treatments before your next drink.

Getting bottles bone-dry after washing also prevents recurring odors. Let’s look next at proper drying techniques.

How to Properly Air-Dry Your Bottle to Prevent Smells?

Trapped moisture invites microbial growth and staleness between uses. So after each wash, make sure to:

  • Shake out excess water through straws and nooks
  • Disassemble caps and seals
  • Stand the bottle upside down on a bottle drying rack to facilitate evaporation
  • Allow all surfaces to completely air dry
  • Reassemble dry pieces for storage or refilling


As you can see, many factors, from beverage choices to drying practices, can create stinky Contigo bottle odors. But with some investigation and tweaks to care routines, you can get even the foul-smelling bottle fresh again.

The key is to clean your Contigo bottle frequently, using odor-fighting solutions, completely air drying, and replacing unsalvageable parts as needed. Don’t tolerate preventable smells – help your Contigo stay hike-ready with fresh water flavor every time.

Have lingering questions about eliminating stubborn bottle odors? Check out the FAQ.


Q: How do you get mold odors out of a Contigo bottle?

A: Fill bottle with equal vinegar & water solution. Shake and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse several times with hot water & a drop of soap until the mold odor dissipates. Lay parts out to dry.

Q: Why does my new Contigo still smell bad after multiple washings?

A: Persistent chemical or plastic smells from brand-new bottles may indicate an issue with materials, the manufacturing process, or quality testing instead of user error. Contact Contigo support for troubleshooting or replacement options.

Q: How can I deodorize bottles without traditional cleaning products?

A: If avoiding chemicals, try concoctions like salt, baking soda, lemon juice, or vinegar for scouring and deodorizing bottles. Just rinse thoroughly afterward and allow all surfaces to completely air dry.

About Me

I’m Paul Burkhardt, an expert in water and water treatment since 2006 with in-depth experience not only in treating water but also in helping to provide people with healthier, high-quality drinking water.

I’ve helped thousands of people with their drinking water questions, including what kind of water bottle might be best for them and their lifestyle.

If you’d like more information about me, please check out the links below or read more here:

Paul Burkhardt

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